The Red Line: Leaving Real Life on Pause
Coaches note- TWB Teammate Ryan Root is planning on sharing some of his thoughts and experiences as one of the top Marathoners in America in this new series. Anything running related is up for the topic of discussion in thoughts and writings.
Team Wicked Bonkproof coach Johnny Crain and I both ran for a what I consider to be one of the finest human beings on this planet in Al Carius, during our time at North Central College. Al had many many tidbits of wisdom that he imparted upon us over the four (or five years in my case). One that sticks with me today is the “Red Line” metaphor.
And no, this is not a break down of anaerobic training or riding some mythical effort level that denotes rapid time to exhaustion. Rather, the “red line” Al refers to is nothing more than a red-painted curb that was just a step away from the backdoor of our locker room. On the other side of that red line was where the workout started, and once you were on the other side of that line, the workout and your teammates were the only thing you were to think about until you come back over the red line at the end of the run.
Once you crossed that painted line you weren’t worried about the English paper that was due that Friday, or the calculus exam you had in a few hours. Once you crossed that line, it was just you, your teammates and the road or track that was to be covered. It had a funny effect of almost decompressing the craziness that is life and school. You’d totally remove yourself from one world, the one where life really happens, and end up in another world where you were freed to let your legs take you amazing places without pretense. This ritualistic crossing over the curb was a fantastic visual reminder to live in the moment and not try to solve all of the world's problems at the same time.
Sometimes when managing life-balance with work, relationships, money, or whatever, bog down your energy levels, it can be really easy to sluff off on your running plans. What’s worse, is that those pieces of life can creep into your head in the forms of anxiety or stress and totally derail an important workout, long run or race.
When we chase our running goals, whether it's to hit that first time BQ or even just to complete a 5k for the first time, we inevitably have to change our daily plans to accommodate for more time spent training to achieve those goals. What I am here to tell you, just as Al would preach to us, is that when you go running focus on the run. Be in the moment, in the mile, in the interval that you are running and don’t let all of life’s stresses intrude on that time.
As athletes, and people really, we are being pulled in so many different directions in life and can often lose sight of the goals we hope to achieve. I challenge you to pick a spot on the sidewalk in front of your house, or a signpost near your apartment building (or heck, even the trailhead sign at your favor forest preserve) and make that your “Red Line.” Liberate yourself from life the second you cross that threshold so it's just you and the road.