When I was studying my degree, I completed a final research project looking into the link between the PlayStation generation and a child’s Physical Education Ability; ultimately understanding that there could be a link between the two. The more a child played computer games, the lower set PE group they find themselves in school. The less a child played computer games, the higher their PE group in school.
A fundamental strand running through my degree was the idea of practice makes perfect and any individual child, given the opportunity for quality practice will one day achieve greatness. Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’ wrote that 10,000 hours is the widely believed figure in what it takes to achieve greatness. Daniel Coyle backed this up in his book named ‘The Talent Code’ that greatness isn’t born, it’s grown. There isn’t a talented gene, yes you may have a pool of genes that all together make you physically look like an athlete, rugby player or gymnast; but it’s what you do with them and how you learn to use them.
You’re probably asking yourself but what the heck does that have to do with me and running? I personally work on the understanding ‘That hard work beats talent’ and that works for me, I’ll rack up miles and miles of running each week. Hoping that I’m working hard enough, to one day beat the ‘talented’ individuals. For example if you are rocking up at Parkrun every week, and constantly setting off too quick and burning out, the week after, you may be able to keep pace a little longer, the week after a little longer; you may try something different, something else that works for you. But you are doing it, you are there, you are practicing when everyone else is doing something else. It’s about constantly putting yourself on the edge of your limit, crumbling to the point of failure; making the situation you are in, the most difficult your body will ever experience and then you’ll improve. It’s about repetition and taking an absolute beating and turning round and saying more please, manners don’t ever forget your manners. Playing the piano and missing keys, but eventually you’ll be able to put it all together smoothly.
It’s not just about practice though, it’s about purposeful practice taking the easy sessions with the hard sessions, having a careful balance of them all. There is no point playing table tennis all your life if you want to be a runner. It’s thought that Mozart racked up 3500 hours worth of practice before he was 6. Brazilians play Futsal, a game with a heavier ball, demanding more control, passing and awareness. It’s no coincidence that Serena and Venus Williams have reached the top of their game together, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Tracey Neville, the same has occurred with Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee. They’ve been born with the same physicality genes, but they’ve had values, codes and practice put in place for them of which they have thrived. Yes, they’ll have had supporting parents and the right oppurtunities, in the right environment. But any other child can succeed just as they have.
You can see now why kids who overly play computer games now sit at the bottom of the PE sets, they don’t practice, they don’t play, they don’t learn how to run, catch, jump. They know the mechanics of it, but can’t fundamentally show it. Their body doesn’t know.
The Tarahumara tribe in America, wrote about in Chris McDougall’s ‘Born to Run’ don’t use running as fitness, they run because they need to. They don’t wear expensive shoes made by Nike, Adidas or Inov-8; they’ll wear whatever they can make or find. They’ll run miles per day, to hunt or compete for food. Have a look at the Karl Pilkington- Happiness episode and you’ll find out! They probably don’t have the greatest diet, they won’t have professional coaches, physios or massage therapists. They’ll have the basic necessities of life, but why is it they can run everyday for miles. Because they’ve practiced everyday of their life, and began to master the skill of running.
Running isn’t fitness, it doesn’t matter if you’re tired, if you are not seeing results, you aren’t succeeding, or everyone else is beating you. Running is a skill, a skill waiting to be mastered, just like playing the guitar, speaking another language or playing computer games. Running with the right amount of patience, time and quality practice will come easy. You’ll have bad days, good days, days where you can’t do anymore, and days where you feel you’ve not done enough. But ultimately you’re racking up your 10,000 hours.
I personally may never be the greatest but I can promise myself that I will work the hardest to beat myself.
How many hours have you rocked up?
I may be wrong, there might be a talent gene and Lionel Messi was born with a ball at his feet, knowing that he was going to be a professional footballer. Mo Farah may have just woke up one morning and thought, today I’ll be an Olympian. Likewise the dog, that you have met may have just been born with the ability to give a paw and lie down?
Well today I ran Cusworth 10k, a race I’ve had some joy with the last 3 years, running it every year since I started running. This being my 4th year, I had 41:37/39:14/37:24 to beat at least. I’d class Cusworth as my first official 10k PB course, as the 41:37 was my best of 2013, not being beaten until January 2014, with a 39:39 at East Lancashire Hospice 10k. But with York in my 10 day forecast a PB of 35:52 could be asking too much? I’ve seen a bit floating around on Facebook this week and spoken to a few people about it in the last few weeks, getting the gist that it was a target race for many; or just a club championship for Penistone runners.
With it being a ‘localish’ run to me, I could have an extra hour in bed and it meant I didn’t have to get up at 6.30 to race. Choosing to wake up around 8 instead, plodded around the house, with my usual aches and pains, showered, fed and watered; I was out the house by 9. I didn’t eat too much yesterday.
It only takes about 30 minutes to get over to Cusworth, the toilet queues are never massive and I entered online, so already had my number. Making it in plenty of time, a 10k is never enough for me lately. So I always choose to do a steady 5k before and whatever I can muster afterwards. So I set off to Doncaster for a 5k plod out, still giving me half an hour to recover and go to the loo, before the race actually does start.
Having a chat with Adrian about his new cycling lifestyle before the race, I made my way eventually to the start, chatting with Martin and Andrew Pearson on the way.. Believe it or not there’s a downhill half marathon next week?
The race started in usual fashion, a Keith Binney spiel about earphones, and timing chips being securely fastened to your ankle, mine was on my shoe, so I was screwed. But so was everyone else’s… Off we went and the gun worked this time, a relatively fast start and a fast bunch of runners were knocking around the front. It’s quite a downhill start, making it even better; but it definitely makes the rest of the race feel slow! I ran a 5:31 the first mile, with Stuart Wilson pushing me. The second mile and third is where the climbing starts in this race, my pace slowed massively to a 6:03/5:57 respectively; some way off of target pace, everyone else had slowed because I still had the same runners around me. The wind was behind us, it still made it no easier. As we hit the turn, I saw the sight of a Mohican, to the left of me, I knew it was downhill from here to the finish; so settled a bit more into my normal running/racing routine. I kicked on and played a bit of yo-yo, with the Doncaster lad in front of me. I thought I had left Richard now, but could still here Stuart behind me, somewhere. Hitting the little water only put into the race to make the route accurate, a few slaloms later and we turned back towards Cusworth, with the wind in the face; giving me a gentle reminder of the Isle of Axholme last week! Still yo-yoing, James Thompson had caught us by this point; pulling me just at the right time for the finish. Hitting the bottom of the hill, a hill the can truly take it out of you; if you aren’t prepared, it can drag or it can go quick. Get to the car park entrance and it’s easy from there! Dodging the nettles and bees, I made my way for a sprint finish, hoping I looked much more comfortable then last year!
I finished in 36:06, 12th place. Third fastest 10k ever behind Wakefield and Salford earlier this year and they were only a week apart, purely flat, in the build up to Manchester marathon. Sounds like there were many PB’s today and very good runs from chats afterwards. The wind hampered some efforts, but that was calm in comparison to last week! Having a lengthy chat with Lee Nash, his girlfriend and Stuart afterwards.
I went for an extended cool down of 8 mile afterwards, taking in Doncaster. Another thing running has taught me, a sense of direction and perception of distance! But I run way better when I don’t know where I am.
Cusworth now joins Cannon Hall 10k and Askern 10 miler for events I’ve completed every year since I started running. Next on this list, my 4th York Marathon next week!
I’m on for 140 miles this week, with marathon distance completed on Tuesday. York now in my sights next week, so I’ll try to taper off…..
Better dash Percy Pud entry opens at 5.