Folks, allergy season is definitely upon us. And let me tell you, it has been absolutely awful. If you’re anything like me, the simple act of stepping outside is a terrible experience as all of the pollen, grass, trees and who knows what else assault me. I go into sneezing fits, my eyes itch so badly that I want to claw them out and, new for this year (!) I’ve been getting awesome sinus headaches to go along with this general unpleasantness. So if you see me, no, I’m not sick or really upset. I’m sneezing and stuffed up and have watery eyes because of seasonal allergies. But you can still feel sorry for me and hand me a tissue.
Strangely enough, I’ve had some great workouts on days when my allergies have been pretty bad. I ran well yesterday during our 5000m-pace workout (5 X 1200m at 5k pace), and a week before that I had one of my better speed workouts (it’s a big deal with I can run at 1500m pace in a workout). Yesterday’s workout was a nice confidence-booster, as I felt strong and smooth working at the pace I want to run. Now that I have a good feel for pace, I can (as Curt Bolton would say) “just get dialed in and go click, click, click.”
Speaking of pacing, I had the privilege of seeing some truly awful pacing at some of the local high school races. It’s usually the top kids in the field, too, who do stupid things like run a 72 for the first lap of the 3000m and then go on to win in 10:20 or something. Sure, I had my share of idiotic races in high school, like that time I ran a first lap of 64 in an 800m race when my personal best was 2:18. But I learned my lesson, because it hurts like hell to go 64, 74 in an 800m race. Lately I’ve been seeing the same kids do the same thing week after week. What’s going on? Am I old enough to write this off as “oh those wacky kids! I’ll ever understand the youth?” Should we blame ourselves? Or maybe the Americans? Has Without Limits ruined everyone’s ability to run a smart race? Oh no, it’s a Nike conspiracy!
I think one part of it is that runners, especially those who are winning local races, develop bad habits and end up failing to run smart over and over. If a kid is winning their local age-class events easily, they can run an absurdly fast first lap or first kilometer, fall way off pace, and still win simply because they are better than the rest of the field. And everyone says “wow, awesome race, you were so far ahead! You’re so awesome!” So they continue to race in a similar fashion. As Bowerman says in everyone’s favourite movie… “He may get away with it in high school, but at the international level of competition it’s a disaster.” And since I mentioned that movie, can we maybe stop calling it “awesome” and “gutsy” and whatnot when someone goes out like an idiot and then fades horribly in a race? Yeah, they looked like a hero for the first bit of the race, but it sure wasn’t heroic when they got passed and pathetically stumbled toward the finish.* We need to stop reinforcing stupid behaviour. So here’s my public service announcement for the day. Recognize poor racing and stop giving it cool labels which encourage people to keep racing like teenage idiots. Generally, when you run smart, you will place better and run a better time than if you go out like a maniac and blow up. Come on kids, you should know better. Run smart.
In any case, I’m getting pretty excited about the upcoming 401 Series. I’ll be watching the races in Windsor this weekend instead of racing so that my legs are fresh for the 5000m in London on May 24th. Then it’s off to Guelph the following weekend, where I will be taking a stab at the 1500m. Windsor should be pretty exciting to watch; the men’s 1500m field is pretty stacked. And I heard that the London Distance Classic will have excellent competition in the 5000m and the 800m, so everyone should come to race or watch that. I suppose I will end on that shameless plug.
*This does not refer to anyone in particular. And I apologize if I sound like I’m grouping all high schoolers together. I realize that some of you must run smart. Good work.
**Hang on, a blog is not complete without a horror punk band’s tribute song to a 1955 science fiction movie! Enjoy!