No Magic Shoes

April 29th, 2011 in Articles by 1 Comment

When I was in 9th grade, the only thing I wanted in the world was to break 5:00 in the mile. Other kids my age were focused on that girl in 6th period history class or the number of days left until they could score their drivers permit, but I was fixated on turning four laps on the track at better than 75-second pace per lap. (Somewhere in the back of my mind, I figured if I could accomplish that the girls and cars would follow.)

At some point at this impressionable age — certainly the direct fault of Dan Wieden or David Kennedy — I became convinced that my inability to crack the 5:00 barrier was tied to the fact that I did not own a pair of Nike Waffle Racers. The Waffle Racer, as a concept, was just trickling down to the underclassmen. Some of the older guys had a previous version of the Waffle Racer, a two-tone green model with a black trademark swoosh, but the younger guys started showing up in the locker room with the new model: an understated grey with the swoosh in sky blue. It was way cooler than the green and black model, trust me, and we’d practically get high from the new-shoe smell whenever someone would bring their new kicks straight from the Footlocker store to practice and pull them out of the iconic orange Nike box.

Needless to say, I began a PR campaign in earnest; my target audience being two key stakeholders: Mr. and Mrs. Miller. Mom handled the finances, so her rebuttal always came down to dollars and cents. Dad was slightly more creative, “So they’ve actually invented a shoe that makes your legs move faster, you’re trying to tell me? And all this time I thought it was your legs that made your legs move faster. Go figure.”

But at some point during indoor track season they caved. I didn’t get a crack at the mile until outdoor track — where I probably ran between 5:04 and 5:12 at least a half-dozen times. Each time I was firmly strapped into my Waffle Racers, and each subsequent race made that barrier seem larger and larger. Even at 14, it didn’t take any outside counsel for me to accept that Dad was right. Just changing your shoes won’t slice a notable chunk off your mile time.

When I reflect on my running career, despite that early lesson, I cringe at how many times I followed the same logic. When I walked on to Northeastern’s team, I just assumed I’d break 4:10 in the mile. I didn’t have a plan to do this, nor did I discuss the goal with my coach; I just figured, “Well, I’m running twice as many miles as I used to run, and all the guys on my team run faster than 4:10, so I should be able to do that inside of Year 1.” I didn’t.

Which brings me to the moral of this post. Training to be a good runner — whatever “good” may mean to you — requires a thoughtful combination of many things. You can mimic the workouts of Olympic greats, but if you don’t know how to apply them to a training cycle they may be useless. You can carbo load with precision in the days before your big race, but if your diet historically is poor, it may not matter. And you can drop a day’s wages on the latest and greatest racing flat, but if you haven’t trained smart, there’s a good chance you’ll be looking at the wrong side of the race clock when you cross the line.

Every runner is different. We don’t know you, and we can’t tell you how to train. But via this Web site we hope to break down what we’ve researched and show you what we’ve learned through years of trial and error in a manner both objective and easy to understand — then you can go think for yourself.

Lesson 1: There are no magic shoes.

Author: Rick Miller

One Comment

I like your article. Its also about the determination and mentality of the individual athlete to want the goal to succeed. Taking the knock backs and still trying to push the boundary. Your right there are no magic shoes……just shear hard work.

Alexia Hamilton-Morris


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