|Pamela Jelimo, London, 2008. Photograph: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images|
|Runners Roost, Denver, CO|
3. Be Patient, Think Big
|Calm down there, kid. Photograph: Mark Robinson.|
I wish I had been less eager at the end of high school and the beginning of college. I logged big miles: 90-110 in singles every week. I thought I needed to be working my hardest every single day. I ran through illness, including a summer of 100 mile-weeks with mononucleolus. I ran through tendinitis, muscle strains, and rolled ankles. I nearly died one summer evening during a post-dinner track workout, which led to exercise-induced anaphylaxis. A couple years later, I collapsed after a workout with heat stroke one awful Carolina afternoon. My senior year, I ended up in the emergency room with gastritis after taking ibuprofen before an intense track session.
I wish I could go back and tell 19-year-old Sam to chill out. Now, every morning, I struggle with a bit of weariness that feels premature. At the age of 31, my legs feel better than when I was 21. But mentally, some days I feel like I'm 60. There are only so many matches, make sure you burn them when they count.
4. Balance Rigor with Fun
|Bay Area Track Club morning miles. Photograph: Magda Lewy-Boulet.|
After eight years of seasonally focusing on track, summer base mileage, and fall cross-country meets, I've learned to not take myself too seriously. I have a tendency to bounce between disciplines: road half-marathons and marathons, punchy 25k trail runs, mountain races, and the occasional return to short cross-country courses. The sport is supposed to be fun, and being overly rigorous in one’s approach to what is (for most of us) a hobby can lead to burnout.
5. Be Committed
|David Torrence, 2015 USA 5K Road Champion. Photograph: kevmofoto.|
One damp Berkeley morning, I arrived at Cal’s track at 6:30 in the morning for a long tempo-paced effort. It was going to be a long slog of a workout. But as I parked my car, I saw that Torrence had already jogged his warm up. When I finished my own warm-up, he was doing activation exercises. As I ran my first segment of six miles up-tempo, Torrence began an intensive set of drills that lasted well over half an hour. As I went into a recovery session, Torrence finally began his “real” workout varying between 600s and 1K intervals. During my second block of up-tempo, Torrence spiked up and began speed work of 150-200 meter strides. We cooled down together. Afterwards, I headed up to the rec locker-room to take a shower. Torrence headed to the weight room for another 90 minutes of weights and stretching. All told, I think he spent nearly six hours working out. Oh, and then he did a shakeout run that evening.
"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."
- Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"