Running is not always easy. On your road to being the best runner you can be, you are going to face challenges and setbacks sometimes as often as you have victories and rewards. I point this out because I know that many of you are struggling with injuries or frustrated with your progress - and all of you will face these things at one time or another if you stick with running long enough.
When I think back to all of the stages of my running, I can remember challenges I had to face that made me who I am as a runner and a coach and a person. In high school I really struggled my entire junior year. I had an amazing sophomore year and figured my junior year would be a breeze and I would win every race. Not so. Nearly every cross country race was slower than the year before, and I didn't set a single PR on the track. I had some injuries and some illness that year and my confidence wasn't where it needed to be. But I was determined to get through it, and I didn't give up (even if I sometimes wanted to). I learned from the experiences, and came back a stronger runner my senior year - both mentally and physically. And I don't think I would have enjoyed my successes as a senior without having gone through some definite lows as a junior. I also learned that I had a great support system made up of teammates, coaches, and parents.
In college, after my mission, I thought I would get right back to the fitness I had when I had left. It was probably the most challenging part of my entire running career. I would start to get strong again and then get hurt or have some other setback. It took me over 2 years to finally run the times I was running as a freshman in college. I can't tell you how frustrating it was to work my butt off and feel like I wasn't getting anywhere (some of you might understand that). But eventually, I was back, and again - stronger both mentally and physically. And I don't think I would have enjoyed my successes over the next few years without having those really hard days to teach me.
Even with my running right now - this summer as I train for the Wasatch 100 - things are not happening like I had planned them. I was sure by now that I would be in amazing shape ready to handle 100 miles better than I had the first 2 times. But instead I have faced one setback after another. I won't go into details - but my body is not as young and healthy as it once was - and I can't seem to run injury free for more than a week at a time. What am I going to do? Give it my best every day. Cross train a little harder when I can't run. Try to stay mentally positive. Improve on the little things I know are important (sleep, diet, stretching, abs). And just keep moving forward the best that I can.
I think the hardest part of it all is trying not to get discouraged. You can ask my wife - I'm not always in the best mood when I can't run or when I am running poorly. But it is so important to stay happy and stay hopeful and keep working through it. I have found that it is a little easier when I think long-term. When I am struggling, I try not to put too much emphasis on the next workout or the next race - but just take it a little at a time keeping in mind that someday it will feel better and I will get through the current challenge. (That's kind of a hard thing to do when I am facing a race this big btw). The fact that running gives you challenges is really one of the best parts of being a runner. Someday you will look back and appreciate the entire spectrum of running - from your lowest to your highest experiences.
Anyhow, that's my thought for the week. I hope you had a great week 10 and that you are getting more and more excited about the final two weeks of summer and about the races which are quickly approaching. Take every opportunity to gain experience and to keep yourself and your teammates positive about the challenges you face with your running. Keep doing your best.
Dart Challenge 5k - Is this coming Saturday at 8:00am. I want all of you to be there at 7:00am so that you can pick up your race number and t-shirt and be ready to warm up at 7:20 as a group. I have attached the registration form and I will also have copies at practice all week. It is a fundraiser for our TEAM - please invite friends, family, and neighbors. You can look at www.dartchallenge5k.blogspot.com for the Dart Challenge All-Time list.
Eligibility Night - Meeting on Thursday at 6:00pm in the Choir Room at the school. Please bring at least one parent if possible and bring your eligibility papers. Try to pay your fee in the office some time this week before Thursday night. Refer back to the eligibility email that I sent this week for all of the details. It is very important to come to this meeting because the athletic director (Coach Welk) will be going over the new drug testing policy and procedures. If you are out of town - I will get the information to you later.
Cross Country Racing Shoes - It will greatly improve your performance in cross country to have shoes to race in on the dirt and grass. Try to find shoes that have the option of having spikes and have a rubber bottom. (Track spikes will work if they have a rubber sole). Striders in Layton is a great place to check. You can also look online at www.eastbay.com The availability on their clearance spikes looks pretty good right now - but they eventually run out of sizes. Here are a few links to some good cross country shoes on Eastbay:
Cross Country Shoes Homepage - http://www.eastbay.com/Cross-Country/Shoes/_-_/N-1hiZne
Saucony Shay Men's - one of my favorite xc shoes - $39.99 - http://www.eastbay.com/product/model:181132/sku:3201523/saucony-shay-xc3-spike-mens/orange/black/?cm=crosscountryshoes_search_redesign
Adidas XC 3 Spike Men's - $69.99 - http://www.eastbay.com/product/model:200093/sku:396707/adidas-xcs-3-spike-mens/orange/black/?cm=crosscountryshoes_search_redesign
Nike Zoom Rival Women's - $29.99 - http://www.eastbay.com/product/model:185407/sku:38221105/nike-zoom-rival-d-7-womens/purple/white/?cm=crosscountryshoes_search_redesign
Saucony Shay Women's - $39.99 - http://www.eastbay.com/product/model:181133/sku:3101521/saucony-shay-xc3-spike-womens/pink/black/?cm=crosscountryshoes_search_redesign
Monday - 7:00am at the Vita Course - theme is to wear your favorite race number (an old one). We are going for PRs on the course.
Tuesday - run on your own
Wednesday - Meet at the Davis Track at 7:30pm (the schedule says 7:00). We are going to be doing 400s on the track. Still come if you are going to be late - maybe we will turn the lights on.
Thursday - Meet at 7:00am at Barnes Park - we are going to run the Dart Challenge course together.
Thursday - Meet at the school in the choir room at 6:00pm for the eligibility night - bring a parent.
Friday - run on your own.
Saturday - Dart Challenge 5k. Meet at Barnes Park at 7:00am - the race is at 8:00. We will warm up together at 7:20.
Only 2 more weeks of summer mileage. Send in your miles from last week and finish the final two weeks with determination and focus.