On occasion, fellow runners have called me a sandbagger—one who misrepresents his/her skill or performance level to procure an advantage in competition. But I assure you this isn’t my intention.
I generally don’t represent myself as being fast because, generally speaking, I’m not. Don’t get me wrong; I used to be fast. I was a sprinter in high school and, later, had a short career as a Divison-I collegiate field hockey player. Now, I’m mainly a yogi who runs long, slow distances with an occasional, erratic turbo boost.
My frustration toward my running technique is probably similar to what an editor of a reality TV show experiences when playing back footage: hours and hours of innocuous inactivity, like sleeping, eating, and watching TV, interspersed with a few cheap thrills in the form of a bar fight or hot tub scene. Fortunately, an editor can craft an entire scintillating episode from one bubbly piece of action. Meanwhile, I can’t eek out a marathon (or even a 10K) on one Jay-Z song worth of a sub-8-minute mile pace.
To help get to the bottom of my pacing/training/sporadically-but-occasionally-fast sandbagging issue, I thought it might help to recall my fastest moments of the summer thus far. Perhaps there’s a pattern? And from there, a strategy to help us all run faster. . . On your mark. Get set. Go!
I am fast when . . .
• Running home at the speed of the Discovery Channel to catch the season premiere of Bear Grylls Man vs. Wild, featuring Jake Gyllenhaal. (I don’t think this requires further explanation).
• Darting through an imposing gaggle of geese along the Esplanade in Boston. (I’m not scared of mice, spiders, or sharks, but I’m scared of geese. Huh?)
• Listening to Superbass by Nicki Minaj for the first time. Boom, badoom, boom, bass!
• Alone on a deserted Cape beach, I realize a naked man is walking toward me. (You’d haul tail, too).
• Being chased by my running coach Dan Fitzgerald. To be fair, he doesn’t actually chase me. The ghost of my own disappointment chases me; it looks a lot like Dan sometimes. As of tonight, I’ll have one-month of expert coaching under my belt. Ideally, I’ll keep racking up the fast moments from there. Thus far I haven’t required an IV or smelling salts following our track workouts, which, in itself, is an achievement.
• In any race in which my Mom is entered, for obvious reasons.
So, that’s my formula for being fast. It’s unproven and unconventional at best, which is why it’s really much easier to let people believe I’m a sandbagger.
When do you run fastest?