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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Loopy Tueday- The Stick and the Prick(s)

This week I headed back to the new track at the new high school. To refresh your memory, I have had a run in at this location previously- not being allowed to run there. The week after I did get on and so I figured today would be okay... since the track has been finished.

If a Calm is Shattered was it Ever There at All?
So- with 3 minute repeats at 8k pace in mind I headed to the high school to get in a "stick" workout. Upon arriving I notice what looks like a regular afternoon practice going on in the area, no one on the track though- even if there were, the cross country team won't mind one runner on the track as well. I'd run with them before... no issue. So, I enter the stadium and head over to the track.

"Hey! What're you doing?"

I keep running on.

"HEY!! I'm Talking to YOU!!!"

I stop. I turn around and see this guy, (obviously he was NOT a runner...) with a sour look on his head. I walk over to him in my singlet, short shorts and racing flats...

"What can I do for you?" I ask.

He goes on to say there is an 'event' going on. He asks if I am blind, implying I am sneaking in... to this high school soccer jamboree. And he was being a first. class. prick. There I said it... For the record, I won't be asked to speak at any functions celebrating grace under adversity any time soon myself...

So- we enter into a bit of a testosterone-induced exchange. I said some things I am not proud of (some were pretty witty though) but in the moment seemed perfectly reasonable... if infantile. After a few minutes of this adolescent BS I am pretty frustrated and his buddies (also county high school staff) begin closing in around me... though we were about 10 feet apart this entire time, and not in any kind of physical altercation. So, I feel it is time to extricate myself, while a smart ass, I am NOT a fighter... we flip a few more comments back and forth and down the road I go... boiling!

I am left wondering why... why can I run in peace at the Appalachian State track, during the circus of media day for the 3-time National Championship (FCS) football team... but at the local high school I can hardly step onto the public track without being charged with trespassing??? Is this the difference between public high school (I went to public high school for the record) and higher education?? Why did I jump to this weakness so willingly?

I leave the scene and the pre-run zen (a learning response to last week) I had cultivated was completely smashed (was it zen at all then?) and I was off my rocker- steaming pissed and stewing about the past, as I trotted away- devising a plan, (no, not find this man's truck and pee on it...) BUT- to run the prescribed workout for today in some form. After 10 minutes of running I had my plan and my location... and the majority of my sanity.

Finally- the Workout!
The Stick consists of a series of 5-6 (up to 10), 3 minute bouts at 8k effort with equal rest. The Stick name comes from the actual stick which was placed in the ground at the track where we were to have reached in this 3 minutes. This workout was a staple during cross country season at Fort Lewis College.

The entire track would be strewn with sticks, each having a corresponding name scribed to it... 30 of them at locations based on race times. It was nice to see the stick move with the season... maybe 850m at the start of the fall and all the way around to 1000m by the end of the season. A GREAT measurement tool. If you work with a team of any kind I would suggest this workout.

Here are some of the benefits of The Stick.
  • Progression through season is obvious.
  • Teaches you to cover distance, to race.
  • Keeps the entire team together for the entire workout. Everyone runs 3 on, 3 off.
  • You can run this with a relay baton, the one with the baton has to make their stick, or everyone gets to go again... bonding.

Not quite 80x400 in the Moonlight... but...

I found a large grassy field... no idea how large, but falling back on 3,2,1 training I set my timer for 3 minutes, (and 1 second...) and set off for the duration at 8k/5mile effort. The first trip was sluggish but helped set the bar for this arbitrary grassy loop. After 3 minutes I jog back to start- and repeat for a total of six trips.

The second 3 minutes I was able to cover about 30m further, at lower effort. This then was my pace (my "stick"- it was actually a soccer goal). Now the body and mind were loose and settled. With strong arm swing and efficient drive from the core. That brain was calm. I was in my happy place... at long last.

Repeats 3, 4, 5 went on much the same. The rest feels excessive during the first half of the workout... soon though- with #4 and #5 the last 30 seconds of recovery is the only real rest as the buffering systems become labored, working to clear the lactate for the entire 3 minutes, heart rate and breathing returning to "normal" just as you are set to go again.

When #6 came around, I stayed consistent until the final minute. At that point I opened up, the arms swing freely, the legs flowing farther away- I let it rip. Passing "the virtual stick" and beyond- awaiting the 3 minute beep! I kept running and running, binding up a little, wondering 'when is that time going to expire?' Re-focusing I pressed on... then- that sweet electronic beep... and done.

Cool Down

Returning to the car I had some time to think about what had occurred during this run. Optimism, Frustration, Acting Out, Recovering and finally- Running... the contemplation put things back in perspective- proved again that I had failed the initial test.

Fortunately I was able to recover enough of myself and settle into a state where I could run well, I could live better. Confrontation is a piece of life- funny how it can obscure the rest of it though... best to be judicious in our entering of these realms. Behavior has a way of becoming habitual.

"Beware of Darkness" -George Harrison


  1. I am often perplexed by some people's sense of "entitlement"...glad you were able to get your speedwork.

  2. I agree with your assessment - what a prick! Sorry that happened. You seemed to recover well though!

  3. Two solutions: pepper spray, electric cattle prod

    ... enough said!

  4. Being a consultant for school districts, I can tell you that some high school coaches are very territorial and when you challenge them in front of their people they feel it is a direct challenge to their authority that cannot be undermined. He most likely uses his size to intimidate his students and tried this same strategy with you.

    You did the right thing by walking away. Fighter or not, you would have lost that one. Since it was a sanctioned event, more than likely there was some type of police presence there. They would have believed whatever bullshit this guy would have come up with about your confrontation.

    Smart move Sean.

  5. Wow, that is pretty amazing that they would have the audacity to actually say anything. I'm glad you didn't just sulk away after the first mention that you shouldn't have been there. Annoying.


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