Girls Just Want to Have Run

John "The Penguin" Bingham

OK, so I’m running along in the Hundred Acre Wood, enjoying the first really cool Fall day, letting my mind wander, and I look up and two high school girls are running towards me. They were wearing some kind of school t-shirt so I figured they were part of a cross-country team. Sure enough, a few seconds later, 3 more girls came running by.

There was no acknowledgment, of course, of this old man out there running, but I didn’t expect anything different. THEN, I look up, and a pack of about 15 girls are running towards me like a herd of buffalo, and with about the same level of courtesy. They covered the entire trail and showed no signs of relenting. Ultimately, I had to YELL “HEADS UP” or I would have been run over.

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I was bugged! It’s cool that a group of young women are out there training. It’s cool that they are intense and focused on their training. It’s NOT cool to be oblivious to everything and everyone else that’s on the path. I’m glad that’s off my chest.

This past weekend in San Jose I had a chance to spend some time with Olympic Marathon Silver Medalist Meb Keflezighi. He was on the experts panel and I interviewed him during his clinic. WHAT a GREAT GUY. I don’t know why I’m always surprised that runners at that level are so nice. Because they ALL are.

I asked him what the best single piece of advice he ever got was and he said this: His coach told him to never breathe harder than the person next to you. In other words, never let them know how hard you’re working – or – how much you’re hurting. I’ve heard Frank Shorter say something similar. He says that whenever he was hurting he’d remind himself that the runners around him were hurting just as much. The difference between winning and second place was often who could hurt the longest.

He talked about his training and the importance of easy days. He often starts his runs at a 7:30 pace, which is 3 minutes slower than his fast pace. It was very reinforcing for me since I start ALL my runs by walking. The secret to training well – at his pace or mine – is taking care of yourself. So many of us train too hard too often and never really achieve our potential. A big thanks to Meb for the reminder.

I’ll be in Chicago with Team in Training for the Chicago Marathon this weekend. GO TEAM.

ORN [obligatory running note] I had two wonderful runs in San Jose in the Guadalupe River Park. Just a block or so from downtown there was this beautiful paved path that went on for miles and miles. Someone told me that it ties into another trail and goes on for a total of 38 miles.

I’m finally back to running a 4/2, run/walk, sequence. I’ve been being very careful since the surgery to bring myself back slowly. The last thing I wanted was to get injured. So in San Jose I did a 5 mile run, my longest run since last May, and it felt GREAT. So good that the next day I went out and ran 4 more miles. I’m telling myself to BE careful.

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