It’s easy to get caught up in where you think you belong, and last night was the perfect example of this. I often tell the team that complacency is a dangerous place to be in running – thinking you belong in a place because that’s where you’ve always been. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be what you’ve always been,” is a quote by Henry Ford, something I share often with the team.
A prime example of this played out last night between Nolan (red shirt/shorts) and Jackson (gray Adidas shirt). Historically, Nolan has always been a step ahead of Jackson in practices and races, and again during our workout last night. Similar to the elephant tied to a stake from a young age believing it could never break free, runners often believe they belong in a certain place on the team because they’ve never experienced anything different. Last night we put this to the test. The group was running 200m repeats (if you’ve been with Whisper for any length of time, you know the workout) between 38-47s, with Nolan running 44s and Jackson running 46-47s. Upon starting, the group would immediately get strung out before the turn, each finding “their place” within the group. On one of the middle intervals in the third set, I pulled Nolan and told him my theory – that pulling him might make Jackson stay more connected with the front runners, and instead of the group being strung out by 20-meters, they remain closer together. Low and behold, it worked. Jackson ran 41-seconds! Nolan seemed shocked – realizing that he, like Jackson, was running with complacency – merely staying ahead of someone he felt he was faster than, rather than pushing himself to his potential, for consistently better results.
To ensure this pattern didn’t happen again, I asked Lucas and Jackson to run together, and Charlie and Nolan to run together. In pairs, they ran the next five 200m intervals in opposite directions around the track at the sound of “Ready, go,” and the kids ran consistently faster, 36-39s.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be what you’ve always been. Like I told Seamus at last race, I want my runners to feel a sense of vulnerability when they race. Taking a risk, testing their limits, pushing their body beyond their safety zone, exploring a new pace, balancing fear and wonder in the safe confines of a 3k/5k. Again, balancing fear and wonder.
My words of encouragement to all of the runners reading this post is to remain curious as you explore yourself as a runner, embracing fear as an ally, and wonder like a child.