The Best Mile I\'ll Ever Run
By: Brad Deel
Runner's World is advertising one of those streak challenges. You've seen them. "Run a mile every day between now and some point in the future." In this case, it is a mile every day between Memorial Day and July 4. There is probably some value in these things for newer runners as it may provide the motivation they need to keep going after their first half marathon or after their first 5K or whatever. For the most part, I'm skeptical of streaks because they also provide motivation to get out and run when you really shouldn't. If you are injured or sick or overly tired, running is not what you ought to be doing. Despite what I think is the pointlessness of most running streaks, I decided to do this one. My only reason was that my longest streak to date has been 30 days and this would be just a smidgen longer. So what the heck.
On Saturday, June 1, evening approached and I hadn't managed to run at all earlier in the day. I realized that the only running I was going to do would be a one mile jog in our neighborhood. In the subdivision where I live, the road splits for a distance and if you run one loop around the upper and lower section of the split, it's right at a quarter mile. So, I put on my running shoes and went out the front door.
As I got ready to start, my 7 year old daughter saw me and asked what I was doing. I told her I was going to run a mile. I can't remember whether I asked her if she wanted to join me for a couple of laps or whether she asked. Regardless, the decision was made. Then, my 3 year old daughter saw us and she wanted to join us as well.
One of my best skills as a racer is an instinctive knowledge of how to pace myself. I have never blown up in a race nor have I ever finished a race thinking I left a bunch of time on the course. My 3 year old has that same sense of pacing. She didn't try to sprint from the start but started jogging. My 7 year old doesn't have that same sense but I have taught her that if you are going to run very far, you can't run hard. Off we go and one of the neighborhood kids sort of made fun of how slowly we were going. It only took about a third of a mile before the hare was sitting by the side of the road watching as the tortoises kept plodding on by.
At any rate, my 7 year old wanted to quit after two laps. I pointed out to her that she had run a 1K with me last fall and two laps was only half a mile which is less than 1K so she kept going. My 3 year old did peel off after three laps but that's 3/4 of a mile so I was really excited to see a kid that young run that far and she did run continuously. At the conclusion of that 3rd lap, I told my 7 year old that she might as well run one more lap and it would be her first full mile ever. So, she hung in there and even finished strong.
In November, 2011, I paced a friend in her first half marathon. It was a personal worst time for me yet I count it as one of my best racing experiences. Last night may well have been the slowest mile I have ever run. I don't know how long it took because I didn't wear a watch nor do I care. It still ended too soon. As I continue to develop as a runner, I become convinced that the greatest joys come not from our own PR\'s or highest mileage weeks or whatever. Our greatest joys come from helping others reach their goals.
So, resolve to help someone else this year. Pace a co-worker in his or her first 5K. Volunteer at a race. It doesn't really matter what you do. It will be appreciated and you'll feel great. I promise. And if I'm wrong and you don't feel great, well, let's go for a run and talk about it.
See ya out there.