Learning to Fly

By: David Hickerson

5 years ago, if anybody told me to not run hard every day or to be patient in races, I’d tell them to “piss off”. I would then continue on about how they have no idea what they’re talking about. Well kids, at least now I can admit that I can be rather stubborn. As much as I want to be a badass punk and just destroy everything in my path, I will never be one. I think Coach Sisson may have actually preached this to me earlier this season. Hey, the man knows his shit!

I have recently come to the conclusion that at the elite level, the fundamentals of running are no longer top priority. Consistent mileage, speed development, and showing up on race day are just kind of expected. Having patience within these aspects is the name of the game. Possessing such maturity in running is one of the most powerful tools a runner can grasp. Talent and hard work can only go such a long way. How you apply such skills is what makes a champion. This is absolutely something bright and new to me. Old and new teammates alike can all agree that taking an easy day was something foreign to me. Going out hard in races was just how I rolled. My college career never really took off because of this.

8 years after my first collegiate track race, I’m finally starting to see things from all angles. The move down to Austin has been a totally eye opening adventure. This amazing new environment has supplied me with a new set of learning tools. My first track season running professionally was rather disheartening. I didn’t even get close to me goals and late season injuries only added to the frustration. However, I finally think I have a firm grasp of what it means to have maturity in running. I’ve simply learned to find the positives in every experience and learn from the negatives. Earlier in my career I would have dwelled on a bad race. I then would have proceeded to do something stupid, like run a 10 mile cool down at 5:30 pace.

I wish I could say that I am now completely immune to the emotional repercussions of having a shitty race. But at least I will actually sit down and assess the situation. The only way to improve is to take a step back to work on weaknesses and sharpen strengths. The results will come; it won’t happen just because you want it to, you just have to keep putting in the work. “Patience- the ability to put our desires on hold for a time- is a precious and rare virtue.” The great Chris Gowell would simply call it “Churning”.

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So much determination!

Austin, Texas and I couldn’t have been a sexier match. The supporting crew and the resources provided are incredible. I really do see myself and those I train with doing some unbelievable things. I’m a firm believer in the old saying, “success is contagious”. Getting the wheel turning as a group is a great way to reach your goals. My high school coach would constantly remind us that as one becomes stronger, so does the group. You becoming faster will only help those around you get faster. This summer I will be putting in some serious mileage on the streets of Austin. I couldn’t be more excited to have these dudes by my side; Jt. “Clown Shoes” Sullivan, Austin “Surprise muthaf#*&@” Bussing, Matt “real.. comfortable… jeans” Cleaver, and Devin “Hamdog” Monson. At the conclusion of my first year at Rogue, I raise my glass to the next chapter!

Attribution Theory/An Open Thank You Letter to Rogue

By: Austin “the Bus” Bussing

 

A little over a week has passed since the conclusion of the 2015 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships (hereafter abbreviated as USAs). I had the time of my life in Eugene, met some great people, learned a lot about myself, and ran a couple of good races as well- finishing 12th in my first ever US steeplechase final with a PR of 8:38. In the afterglow of my experience at USAs, I’ve done a lot of thinking about how I arrived at this point in my life- where I seem to be poised on the precipice of accomplishing goals that once existed only in my imagination. Through this introspection, I keep coming back to my feeling of immense gratitude towards the Rogue Running community. It is this community, this nurturing network of incredible individuals that, in many ways, made my experience at USAs possible- and to that community, I am eternally grateful.

Barely made it into this frame that was clearly focused on Carl Stones (...I mean Evan Jager)

Barely made it into this frame that was clearly focused on Carl Stones (…I mean Evan Jager)

My opportunity to compete at USAs was enabled most directly by my training and Steve Sisson’s coaching. However, I’m not so blind or ungrateful as to be completely unaware of the other forces that helped me ascend the running ladder. In order to train the way I do, it helps to have some form of financial stability- preferably in the form of a job with flexible hours that doesn’t crush my soul or require backbreaking physical labor. So, a little over a year ago when the renowned deadhead Chuck Duvall hired me (extremely reluctantly) to work retail at Rogue, one piece of the USAs 2015 foundation was put in place (although I didn’t fully know it yet).

This guy right here...

This guy right here…

One day a little over a month ago, I was working the floor at Rogue when a slightly flustered Jen Harney approached me. Apparently, a coach she had lined up for the upcoming Couch to 5k group in Cedar Park had backed out at the last second. This left all the people in the group, not to mention Jen, as training director, in a horrible position. Could I help, she wanted to know? I was, and still am, so thankful to have been approached with this opportunity. Not only did it make my financial situation a bit better it also allowed me to gain experience for my future coaching career- and, perhaps most importantly, it brought me into contact with a group of awesome, inspirational runners who were just beginning to fall in love with the sport.

Heading up to Cedar Park for my first day of the new coaching gig, my ‘99 Camry broke down. I called my good buddy Carl Stones to help bail me out of a situation in which I felt entirely helpless. We both looked at my smoking car and came to the studied conclusion that it was in bad shape. This was corroborated by the fact that it would not start despite both of our best efforts to jump it using Carl’s car. Eventually we got the thing towed, and Carl dropped me off at the Cedar Park Rogue for my first day coaching the Couch to 5k group.

Youngest brother Avery. My whole family was proud of that beautiful car, and I had to go and total it.

Youngest brother Avery. My whole family was proud of that beautiful car, and I had to go and total it.

I would later find out that my Camry was completely done. It would have cost at least 3 times the current value of the car to get it fixed, so I sold it for scrap. Upon learning I was carless, Travis Johnson from the Cedar Park Rogue kindly and selflessly let me borrow his bicycle, which to this day continues to allow me to get where I need to be. For my subsequent Couch to 5k sessions, I would take the RedLine Metro up to one of the north stations, where Jen would pick me up and take me to the store to coach.

Sometime during this whole Cedar Park saga, Jeff Knight (still with the mustache back then) told me he had spoken to a mother who was looking for a private coach for her high school son. Jeff, surely remembering my coaching aspirations (and all the times I had pestered him for gems of coaching wisdom), wanted to know if he could refer the mother/son to me. Needless to say, I was ecstatic, and more than willing to coach this kid. Once again, the Rogue community was coming through for me- making it possible for me to pay my rent, buy some food occasionally, and live my running dream.

Now, I didn’t write this blog to emphasize how pathetically dependent I am upon Rogue Running (and hopefully it hasn’t come across that way). I wrote this blog as a way to show gratitude, to say thanks to all of those who have helped me in so many ways, and to shed some light on the importance of the amazing support structure provided by the family that is Rogue Running.

My favorite professor in college was interested in something called attribution theory. This theory refers to how people contextualize and understand their successes and failures in life. If you were asked to explain how you got to your current station in life, what narrative would you tell? Would you focus on your own hard work, intelligence, drive, etc.? Would you talk about environmental, institutional or socioeconomic factors that allowed your success- or lead to your failure?

The truth is that a complex mix of internal and external factors drives each person’s successes or failures in life. But attribution theory isn’t really interested in nailing down the truth- slippery and elusive substance that it is. Attribution theorists, in general, are interested in people’s conceptions of the truth- the stories people tell themselves and others about the world and their place within it. My family at Rogue Running is clearly a huge part of my story.

Texas Boys at USAs

Texas Boys at USAs

As I stood on the starting line at Hayward Field, excruciatingly awaiting the blast of the starter’s pistol, I was keenly aware that I did not get there alone. While I made the conscious, hard choices to put myself in a position to get to that starting line, and while I worked my butt off every single day to make a US final, there’s not a shot in hell I could have done any of it alone. To the countless Rogues who have congratulated me on my performance: I hope I’ve adequately expressed my gratitude- and I hope you know it couldn’t have happened without you. I’m sorry 12th place is all I could bring you this year. I promise I will keep working hard at my craft in an attempt to keep climbing the ladder at the 2016 Olympic Trials.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Balance Zante Review

by Austin “The Bus” Bussing

There certainly is a whole bunch of hype surrounding the New Balance Zante. It took home Competitor Magazine’s 2015 Road Shoe of the Year, and it seems like you can’t flip through any fitness-oriented magazine without being assaulted by full page ads for the Zante and/or it’s stockier Fresh Foam cousin, the Boracay. Is the hype well-deserved? Once the catchy ad campaigns have run their course and the limelight has dimmed, what are we left with?

The answer, unequivocally, is a darn good shoe. It’s fast, comfortable, smooth, sleek, and sexy. How’s that for effusive hype? Before I lay it on too thick, let’s cut through some of the purple prose and talk about the specifics of the shoe.

Similar to the adidas Boston Boost, the beauty of this shoe is in its versatility. With an aggressive toe spring, a sock-like upper, and a generous slab of Fresh Foam cushioning underfoot, the Zante is built for speed AND comfort. It has a smooth, consistent feel from the initial footstrike through the toe-off, thanks to the one-piece midsole and its geometrically-inspired design (more on this later).  These features, combined with the shoe’s 6 millimeter drop (heel-to-toe differential) place the Zante within the “natural running” footwear paradigm, making it a good option for the runner who is looking to go a bit more minimal without taking the plunge straight into Vibram Five-Finger territory.

The Zante’s upper is arguably its most divisive quality. Some runners will revel in the sock-like upper, while others will bemoan the lack of support provided by the seamless, stretchy toe-box. It would seem that the New Balance designers, in their attempt to achieve a sock-like feel, completely eliminated anything that might make the upper “shoe-like.” While the midfoot portion of the upper hugs your arch (perhaps too tightly for runners with wider feet) the toe-box really opens up. This design feature is in line with the fashionable school of thought dictating ample room for toe-splay upon impact with the ground, but it may leave some runners wishing for a bit more support.

One slightly geeky factor that contributes to the Zante’s notably smooth ride is its aforementioned geometrically-inspired design- primarily the use of the hexagonal shape and concave/convex support structure throughout the midsole. The portion of the midsole that runs beneath your foot’s inside arch and back through the heel is comprised of convex hexagons, which provide subtle support and, dare I say, stability, for the impact portion of your gait phase. The entire lateral side of the midsole, as well as the forefoot portion of the medial side, is comprised of concave hexagons, which compress a bit under pressure, and thus provide a soft transition through the toe-off phase.

The Zante’s aggressive toe-spring, and the fact that it is quite light (6.5 ounces for women, 7.5 ounces for men), make it a great shoe for uptempo running. While some runners may find it a little soft for a true racing flat, most would probably agree that it is light and responsive enough for a tempo/longer threshold workout shoe. The shoe is also endowed with just enough Fresh Foam cushioning to make it serviceable as an everyday trainer for the runner who prefers a lighter training shoe (think Saucony Kinvara, Brooks Launch 2, etc.). For New Balance, the shoe fills a void between the Fresh Foam 980 (or newly-updated Boracay) and the 1400, with the cushioning and minimal drop of the 980/Boracay (Boracay is a 4 millimeter drop, Zante is a 6 millimeter drop) in combination with the lightweight and responsive nature of the 1400. Retailing at $100, the Zante is also very reasonably priced, considering the quality of the product.

In short, the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante is a lightweight training/road racing shoe with comfortable cushioning, a smooth and responsive ride, and a sock-like upper. Runners with a wider foot, or who prefer a more supportive upper, may be advised to look elsewhere, as the shoe does run a bit narrow through the midfoot, and the upper leaves some support to be desired in the forefoot. Paradoxically, the things that make this shoe wrong for some runners are the same attributes that make it so very right for others. The tight-fitting midfoot does a good job of locking in the arch, and also helps to accentuate the arch support underfoot, while the stretchy upper in the toe box allows substantial room for toe-splay. The Zante is not necessarily built for every foot out there, but I think it can be a good fit for many runners. It’s certainly worth coming to try the shoe on at Rogue Running!

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante Specs:

Weight: 6.5 ounces (Women); 7.5 ounces (Men)

Drop: 6 mm

Price: $100

More Bullshit

by Austin Bussing

I’m sitting on the end of a massage table, legs dangling over the edge, head down, intentionally slumped in horrible posture. I dorsiflex my foot and ankle on one leg, trying to bring my toes close to my shin. From here, I kick my leg up, straightening it out and locking my knee. This extension causes a tightness and slight pain in my hamstring, and then the discomfort is immediately dispelled as I lift my head and look straight ahead. I repeat this strange series of movements 20 times before switching to the other leg. “Kicking your head off” is the tongue-in-cheek name for this exercise in the physical therapy community. Other aliases include “nerve glides” and “nerve flossing.” Truth be told, I rarely floss my teeth (although I consistently feel the need to lie to my dentist about this), and here I am, “flossing” my nerves in both hamstrings through this bizarre and tedious routine- twice a day, every day.

This exercise is followed by a number of others, each as mind-numbingly monotonous as the last. These tasks all demand intense focus and attention, as they are designed to isolate and activate typically dormant or under-utilized muscles, thereby slowly correcting detrimental muscle imbalances. My particular imbalance is between my glutes and hamstrings- basically, my butt doesn’t do nearly the amount of work it should while I’m running, and my poor hamstrings are left to pick up the slack. Over the course of tens of thousands of miles, this imbalance can (and certainly has) put quite a beating on my hamstrings – especially when I try to run fast. Since running fast is pretty essential to what I’m trying to do with my life (read: run fast), it’s pertinent that I get this little problem under control.

In addition to observing these strange rituals daily, I can be found doing a number of other small tasks throughout each week, including repeatedly rolling my legs on a foam cylinder, running 150 meter sprints on the Austin High Track, and balancing, one-legged, on a poorly inflated rubber oval while throwing a small medicine ball back and forth to a teammate. In isolation, each of these activities seems not only slightly absurd, but also pretty far removed from my ultimate goal – to run a fast 3000-meter steeplechase. However, considered holistically, these individual tasks are part of a larger process, through which my goals become achievable. Compared to the time I spend actually racing the steeplechase, or doing steeplechase-specific workouts, I spend an astronomical amount of time on these (seemingly) tangentially related tasks. It’s not that glamorous, and it’s certainly not that “cool.”

What does it look like to be a good runner? Does it look like a Gatorade commercial, complete with inspiring music and shots of ripped, good-looking athletes doing a series of explosive and impressive exercises, and then just standing there sweating colorful sweat and looking determined? Well, that’s some of it. But a lot of it is sitting on massage tables, performing weird movement patterns to activate neglected muscle groups, and doing all of the other “little things” that are so very necessary to achieve consistent success at a high level.

An episode of the highly acclaimed HBO series, The Wire, recently drove this point home for me. For those unfamiliar with the show, it provides a nuanced and gritty look into crime in a city that is now sadly back in America’s media spotlight: Baltimore, Maryland. The beauty of the show is its multifaceted approach, and its exploration of the theme of moral ambiguity in contemporary politics, law enforcement, and organized crime. I could talk about it forever. But I won’t do that, because even bringing up The Wire in a running blog is inherently tangential, and I’m really in no position to start stacking tangents here. Bear with me though – I do believe there is a point to be made, and a connection to be drawn.

In this specific episode of The Wire, a special unit of the Baltimore Police Department has finally succeeded in tapping the phones of members of the Barksdale Crew – a group of drug dealers with a number of suspected murders on their hands. This episode comes about halfway through the first season, and the prior episodes devote a substantial portion of time chronicling the administrative, legal, and bureaucratic hurdles the police unit has had to clear before using the wiretap. The frustration of the detectives is made inescapably palpable to the viewer, as it seems that time and time again the “bad guys” are able to “get away with it” all because the police have failed to meet some tiny procedural requirement (quotes are used in reference to the aforementioned moral ambiguity at play in the show).

In the scene that really hit home for me, Lester Freamon (the show’s archetypal wise old detective) is explaining to some of the members of his unit that they are only allowed to listen to wiretapped conversations when they have received visual confirmation that a real suspect is using the phone. What this means in practice is that a team of cops must be in a position to actually see a specific member of the Barksdale Crew on the phone, and report back in real time to another team of cops back at the office who have access to the wiretap. Big surprise, right? More procedural hurdles to clear. Or, as one of the younger detectives in the room puts it, “More bullshit.”

Freamon takes a bit of umbrage to this comment, whirling around in his chair to face the young detective (Herc) before exclaiming, “Detective, this right here, this is the job! Now, when you came downtown to CID (Criminal Investigation Department) what kind of work were you expecting?”

Now, sometimes in running, we’re all guilty of thinking like Herc. I know I have been. When we came to Austin to run for Rogue Athletic Club, what kind of work were we expecting? Surely we were expecting to crush PRs set in college, we were expecting to make World teams, we were expecting to win- and win big. We were expecting the glory.

However, in our best moments, we’re able to step back and think like Freamon. We’re able to realize that there’s no glory – there never has been and there never will be – without a bunch of “bullshit.” There will be Saturday nights when you don’t race as well as you had hoped, but you’d better believe you’re getting up early Sunday morning for a long run, followed by at least 20 reps of some weird “clam” exercise where you lie on your side and try to lift one of your legs up and hold it at a 45 degree angle for 10 seconds at a time – only using your glutes – because that right there, that is the job. It’s not always pretty – in fact it rarely is – but in those rare moments when it is pretty, damn is it beautiful.

Rogue Haiku by JT Sullivan

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Last I was heard from

Limericks were my style

This time, Haiku tempts

 

In poetic prose

Syllables: five, seven, five

My story told here…

 

The demon tendon

Achilles, not of Greek fame

Slain, like sons of Troy

 

Training commences

My breath like sharp needles sting

My legs, hardened clay

 

Day by day, pain exists

A pain I welcome; A pain

I had once thought lost

 

With each stride, sharp dulls

With each stride, clay turns to dust

Those behind can dine

 

Fitness supplants pain

Strength and endurance blossom

Speed supplants weakness

 

The memory fades

The demon tendon is no more

A faint afterthought

 

The track becomes home

A familiar residence

From which I vanished

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I make plans to stay

This home is where my dream grows

Goals…desire…hope

 

But fate intervenes

A new demon shows his face

Hamstring is his name

 

Fitness disappears

Agony and ache arrive

Notice of evict

 

A new home is found

A place of foam and rubber

Roll, stretch, ice and rest

 

Fortitude strengthens

Perseverance resolute

Patience is practiced

 

The path continues

A road to recovery

The dream is not dead

Glide Boost Review

glide

by Austin “The Bus” Bussing

Welcome to the first installment of the Rogue Athletic Club product review! This will be a bi-weekly post featuring descriptions and reviews of products used by our stellar athletes here at Rogue AC. The first product to be reviewed here is the adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 shoe. Many runners here at Rogue (myself included) have come to love this shoe for its durability and reliability on everyday training runs.

Before diving into the touchy-feely, subjective and equivocal drivel that comprises most shoe reviews (and will certainly play a significant role in this one as well), let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about the specs for the Supernova Glide Boost. Here’s what we know:

Weight: 11.3 ounces (Men’s Size 9); 9.2 ounces (Women’s Size 7)

“Drop” (heel-to-toe differential): 10 millimeters

Midsole cushioning composition: 55% Boost, 45% EVA foam

Want a better look?  Check out the MEN’S SHOE HERE and the WOMEN’S SHOE HERE.

In light of these numbers, let’s start our discussion with a blatant declaration of what the Glide Boost is NOT. Weighing in at a hefty 11.3 ounces, this shoe is not a lightweight trainer. It is not nearly as light or sleek or sexy or fast as the beautiful Boston Boost. If you’re looking for a good lightweight shoe to crush a Town Lake tempo or some quick intervals on the track… this is not your shoe. It feels a bit heavy and clunky, and the numbers above bear that out.

Those things being said, this review was never intended to be an all-out roast of the Glide Boost. As most good runners and coaches will tell you, the amount of time spent scalding dogs on Town Lake or tearing up the Austin High Track is relatively miniscule compared to the time spent knocking out the long, easy miles that comprise the bulk of your training load. Who’s gonna be with you every step of the way on those long runs, medium distance runs, and easy days? The Supernova Glide Boost 7- that’s who. This is not the glamour shoe; it’s the workhorse shoe. The great Arthur Lydiard once said, “Miles make champions.” Well, the Glide Boost will reliably get you through the miles that will make you a champion. So basically the Glide Boost will make you a champion, guaranteed.*

*Not an actual guarantee.

All joking aside, I stand 100% behind this shoe as an effective tool to help grind through the high-volume demands of a marathon build-up or a long track season. Its considerable heft is not all negative – that bulk goes a long way towards protecting your feet and keeping your legs feeling fresh (following the same basic logic as the “More Cushion for the Pushin’” theorem). Despite the 11.3 ounce weigh-in, the Boost in the midsole gives this shoe the responsive feel you’ve come to expect from adidas. The outsole, with its vertically segmented forefoot, provides just the right mix of flexibility and rigidity. Another “techy” feature that actually lends some real functionality to the Glide Boost is the “Torsion System” – essentially a plastic ‘bridge’ piece through the midfoot portion of the outsole that connects the heel with the forefoot. This little guy helps facilitate a smooth transition from your midfoot stance phase through the toe-off, so that you can really GLIDE through your run. Of course, the Continental Rubber tread provides excellent grip on any surface to prevent too much gliding/sliding.

Let’s talk uppers! While adidas has been known to make some pretty narrow-fitting shoes, the Glide Boost is a bit of an exception. The upper feels very roomy, and while the sock-like construction of the midfoot/tongue provides a supportive fit, it will not feel too restrictive or tight on most feet. The women’s version of this shoe features a techfit upper meant to stretch and adapt to all foot shapes. This is especially helpful in the toebox, as it can help alleviate the all-too-common problems that arise from cramming your toes in a shoe that is too narrow. This comfortable, stretchy upper is very accommodating to your forefoot, allowing your toes to splay apart on the impact of each step – without hindrances from needless, oppressive overlays.

In short, the adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 is a great shoe for all levels of runners looking to put in some long mileage on the roads (or around Town Lake). It will not blow you away with the fast, versatile feel of the Boston Boost, but when it comes to easy days and long runs, this shoe gets the job done. In many ways, I believe this shoe is the unsung hero of the adidas running line – the hardscrabble grinder that shies away from the glitz and glam of the limelight. While you’re out there crushing it on the track or in a road race, the Glide Boost will be sitting humbly at home on your bedroom floor with a contented grin, knowing that the incendiary speed you’re displaying is made possible by the day-to-day dependability and consistency that only it could provide.

The Glide Boost retails for $130. Come by Rogue Running at 410 Pressler Street to try a pair on for yourself!

A Rocky Road

Leslie at Georgia

Leslie at Georgia

I wish I could start off by saying that my transition from college track to Olympic Development training has been smooth and easy… but that would be a boldfaced lie. I can honestly say that my first 7 months in Austin have had more failures than successes, more struggles than victories, and more hardships than cheer. But then again, which Olympic athlete has ever made it to the finish line, looked back and said, “Wow, that was easy!” Very few, if any.

All that being said, I truly cherish the opportunity to be a member of the Rogue AC team, and I value each and every relationship I have made. I have learned, in a very humbling way, what it truly takes to become an elite athlete and how the definition of ‘elite’ has changed over time. I have recognized the magnitude of mental toughness and inner confidence that athletes must own in order to make it to the next level. I have realized that self-discipline, personal sacrifice, and consistency are vital, and that stepping out of your comfort zone to reach places you’ve never been is a must. I have identified that a successful athlete will listen to their body, not their pride, and they will understand how to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Lastly, I have observed the unspoken trust that champions possess in their coach and teammates, and the ongoing communication kept between the group. Needless to say, becoming an Olympic-caliber athlete is no simple task.

Although I have yet to attain my performance goals and still have a long way to go, the insight that I’ve gained from being a part of such an elite group has really opened my eyes to where I need to go from here. You know what they say… “You must reach the bottom to make it to the top.” And luckily, I now understand the attributes I must improve on to only go up from here.

by Leslie Boozer

And Sometimes You Don’t Want to Run Indoor

A lot has transpired since I joined Rogue AC – JT gracefully made his way back into the racing scene, Carl’s hair reached/possibly surpassed Steve’s hair length, Sarah finally got to go to altitude to train, I think I avoided several broken ankles through physical therapy with SPI, and many people had very incredible performances. Alli got her Olympic marathon qualifier and Kristen’s ran an impressive USA Indoor nationals 2 mile, just to name a couple.

In an effort to avoid too dull of a blog, I’ll try and err on the side of brevity. For anyone who does not know me, cross country is not particularly “my thing”. I have an abundance of respect for the athletes who thrive in the hills, mud, and grass I just prefer a flatter more predictable route. But, since leaving college I’ve really worked on embracing cross country a bit more (which is easier to do when you only have to commit yourself to 2 races for the year). So I strapped on my adidas spikes in December and I was fortunate enough to have them run my feet all the way to Scotland (people should really invest in a pair of adizero spikes, they’re exceptionally good at turning people international) and that was pretty neat. I’d never been outside the continental US so needless to say it was a pretty incredible experience, despite being someone who is not necessarily pro-elements (wind, ice, rain, hills, creeks running through the course, etc.). 

Such an amazing opportunity did come at a bit of a price: extending my cross season well beyond what it normally is. I love running, I really do, but sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I just want to take a break, and sometimes I don’t want to run indoor and I kind of think that’s ok. My dad once told me to choose my battles, which is an incredibly difficult piece of advice to follow for me in particular (I’m sure Mark Feigen could easily validate that for you). But I realized that I want to be able to show the hard work Steve, Ruth, Anthony, and SPI put into me, through my performances. I’d also really like to be able to give a nice big thank you to Adidas, and my parents of course, for their support via some low numbers on the track, that’s why I decided to skip over indoors and focus on outdoors. 

So that’s kind of what I’ve been doing the past couple of months – not running indoor. I decided it was a good time to get some solid training in, and Steve saw it as a prime opportunity to have me run some of my least favorite workouts and that’s where I am now, running workouts and excited for outdoor.

Mental Preparation

Screen shot 2015-02-25 at 9.25.02 AM

It’s been a minute since I have given an update on how awesome life here in Austin is. I will go ahead and say that I am living the dream, baby! High-fives are greatly accepted. I am continuing to pursue my medical profession by working with the great Dr. Ted Spears along with the wonderful physical therapists at Sports Performance International. I have learned a surmountable amount of information on patient care, and the ever-enjoyable phone calls with insurance companies.

Tying into my medical career, I continue to train full-time with Rogue Athletic Club, and training has never been better since the move to Austin, Texas. Last year was a constant struggle with the early morning routines of hard workouts, lack of coffee, and mediocre race results; not to mention my season ending injury in May. Subsequent to our winter break, my training has turned completely around. This didn’t happen by what Steve calls “magic.” I credit the accountability of my training partners JT, Buss, Devin, Gowell, and Hick, mostly. Sure I have become a lot more disciplined by going into the weight room, doing speed development, drills, strides, nutrition, you name it, on my own accord, but it was because of my training partners that I developed the discipline. The group’s moral and comradery has never been better. It feels like family.

As aforementioned, training is going quite well. However, I do still have an occasional sub-par workout performance. I’d like to address the importance of keeping one’s composure of a perceptible “unacceptable” workout or race performance. Pheobe Wright’s article addressing this issue was spot on, and I wanted to articulate how I deal with “a bad day at the office.”

First off, realizing that you aren’t the exclusive athlete dealing with post-race or post-workout depression is a crucial step to getting over the issue. The sooner you get over it, the better. Why linger on something that isn’t a definitive test of your fitness? There are only two races to be ready for –the 2015 USA Championships and the 2016 Olympic Trials.   We all have an occasional mediocre, or just a piss-poor, race or workout. One thing I have come to realize is that one event does not define you as an athlete, or a person. It is how you subsequently assess the situation and what you do to prepare for the next race or workout, and how quickly you put it behind you. The mental struggle usually begins even before the gun goes off or before your coach says, “go” on your first interval. Mental preparedness is THE most important step to having a good session or race, but all athletes are head cases, and we occasionally fall short to mentally prepare, or just have negative thoughts. Yes, it’s going to hurt, A LOT, but that is the unwritten contract that every distance runner signs.

Steve reminds me to look at all the positives in my current training block. One negative experience does not make the holistic training block negative. There are unarguably more positives then there are negatives when comparing to a single workout or race. Again, it DOES NOT DEFINE YOU! Not only listening to your philosophical coach is valuable, but also being vulnerable to suggestion from your training partners is essential to one’s success to getting over the workout or race. Grab a beer, joke about how terrible it went, and have some more beer. Any IPA will do.

Accept that there are going to be obstacles thrown into your training. Reach out to the community around you, and most of all…continue to have fun with what you are doing. Til next time my friends.

 

Disclaimer: I am not a clinical psychologist.

Matt Cleaver is a member of Rogue Athletic Club, where he steeples, runs, eats, sleeps, prepares, repeats daily.   Sponsored by adidas and Rogue Running.

Churn by Chris Gowell

DSC07293It has been several months since my last dialogue. So much water under the bridge, so many more spike marks etched into my skin. In short, broke the Welsh national indoor record with a 3.57.2, ran the first sub 4 minute mile on Welsh soil in 20 years, raced some in Europe, and came 10th in the commonwealth games in what was the most magnificent experience of my life in front of some 50,000 people.

My wife Juliane and I travelled to Amsterdam, Istanbul, Dubai, Nepal, and then back to the USA to initiate training after a long and well-earned break.  Nepal was a blast. It reinitiated my love for running, it brought on a sense of primal instinct that awakens my passion for running. The day I have reached my full potential on the track, you’ll see me atop a mountain, in the woods or galloping a coastal path somewhere for miles and miles. Maybe I’ll challenge Paul Terranova someday?!

Running, I realize, has become method of mental stability, an avenue to birth a better day. Running is one of the only things in life I can truly control, I own it, It’s all me and no one else. Not many 800 meter/milers yearn for long reflective runs, but it is during such a time and places that life occurs: Motion and nature harmoniously coinciding. Memories and ambitions present themselves all at once, nothing makes sense but it’s as clear as day. Admittedly, this is a strange attitude as ‘professional’ track athlete, but I find it a useful way to enjoy running, be thankful for its gift while it lasts, meet good people on the way and take nothing for granted.nepal

Perhaps more relevant, I had a below par indoor racing season, however, training has been very deliberate this year and the outdoor season is bound to produce some head turning performances. I have been at Rogue since Jaunuary 2011, it’s hard to believe that all these years have passed, yet they are still standing by me along with a great support system. I have been monumentally fortunate in my time as an athlete and I will keep plugging away to produce the results I know are possible.

I was once told by a teacher in high school that ‘sport is a great leveler’. That statement will always be with me because it is through sport that all people are equal, particularly in running. That is what makes the running community so unique and special, whether it’s Rogue running or the Lliswerry Runners in Newport, South Wales: A runner is a runner at whatever standard, we all churn, we all work to a particular standard and a true runner knows what I mean in the 3rd paragraph.

I’m constantly reminded of this when I see droves of Rogue runners knocking out their long run and all returning with a smile their face, always checking in and asking how things are going. It is to all these supporters I owe so much to.

Here’s to keeping on churning

Cheers,

Gowell