So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Sport Is Your Sport's Cross-Training

This last weekend was, I believe, the thirty-first running of the largest 5K prediction run in the U.S., at McGuire's Irish Pub in Pensacola. The last time I ran it I swore I would never do it again. Too many people. However, my wife wanted to go out and enjoy the cameraderie (and a few beers), so I could not refuse. But I think the numbers were a little lower back then. This weekend's run had an official count of 11,057, give or take a couple, and gave me the chance to spend some time with some former athletes, present friends, and see if I could shock a couple of persons. One of my former athletes was definitely shocked, saying I looked larger in the upper torso than in the past...I had to disagree a skosh, though. If you have a well-developed neck and shoulder area, and tend to run in either short-sleeved or sleeveless t-shirts, then appearing in public in either a running-style tank (singlet) or a spaghetti-strapped top is going to make ANY PERSON'S neck and shoulder area look large. Place a long-legged woman in a pair of short shorts and you'll think she has, like Rod Stewart once sang, 'legs right up to her neck.'

It's all in your perspective.

As a guy who likes a nice day in the sun as much as the next 'reformed vampire,' eleven thousand people is sufficient company for three miles and change. But if you're interested in testing your fitness, eleven thousand people for a 5K, without corrals or wave starts, is a few thousand runners to the dark side. When it takes (a rehabilitating runner) 34 minutes to get from the middle of the pack, across the starting line, to the finish, that's way too long, in my case ten minutes too long. That ten minutes was the only time where I could travel in a perfectly straight line; the rest of my run was a demented blend of road race and heavyweight bout: Bob and weave, stick and move... By the time I hit the first mile (since this was a prediction run there were no splits or timing), which went from FOUR LANES down to a single lane of roadway, half-filled with parked vehicles on both sides a quote from "The Big Lebowski," '...let's go bowling,' made perfectly good sense.

Speaking of bowling, I never thought I'd hear someone call running a form of cross training. That is, until I had a bowler come out to train with my group. Joe's mother, Vicki, is a friend of mine. She race-walks marathons, does triathlon, coaches charity runners and occasionally writes about her race day experiences, so we have a bit in common. I always wondered whether the bowling thing was an act of rebellion or something. I guess if I was a kid who's mother was "the balloon lady" at marathons - basically, the harbinger of doom - I'd find a sport which didn't have much to do with running, either.

So, we were chattering during the warm-up, and Deena, my marathoner, asked Joe what he did as cross training. Joe's response was, 'well, I'm a bowler, so I guess running is my cross training.'

It's all in your perspective.

Joe was recently accepted to a college which has a serious intercollegiate bowling program, which I guess to the average guy (including this coach!) seems like a multifaceted contradiction. But then again it's not that far a stretch from road running in the southeastern US, where beer drinking before 9 a.m. on Saturday appears the norm.

I guess the difference between a serious intercollegiate program (in Joe's case, Wichita State University) and a less-than-serious one is the implementation of a fitness test for prospective athletes. Yes, you have to love it. Joe is in great shape; he took everything I would normally dish out at the track to an unknown athlete and enjoyed it. I worried during one repeat, until he told me he was grooving to the music over the nearby softball field's public address system.

I've seen T-shirts which said "my sport is your sport's punishment." But I've never looked at running from the point of view (save for the occasional anaerobic athlete who disdainfully calls it "cardio") of someone who is slinging 15-pound composites a hundred times a weekend. I'll keep running, thanks. Bowling shoes are too darned ugly. At least for me. Perhaps young Joe thinks differently.

It's all in your perspective.


William J. said...

I have a friend, who just recently took up racing again after about 28 years and completed a very respectible 5k in 19:45, who previously used running to keep in shape for competitive table tennis.

Michael Bowen said...

A friend of mine from my military days in West Germany was a very good (as far as the Army was concerned) table tennis player. I went with him to a couple of local sportverein (club) practices and was impressed with the fitness level of the players.

Ping-pong, my left foot... ;)