Shift 35: Negative Splits

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Winter break ended, and the new semester started. Clara Bjergsen told me that this semester was the important one, since I wanted an athletic scholarship. Though the official signing with a university team didn’t happen until fall of senior year, it was in junior year that the scouts would be checking out all our track meets and the coaches would offer verbal commitments.

I felt scared and excited, and I wanted to do everything right. I had to keep up my grades, of course, too.

I asked Aadhya for advice, of course, like I always do when I want to do my best.

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She got quiet for a moment.

“I’ve been watching you, Jazz, since you first arrived here nearly a year ago,” she said. “You always work so hard. You’re a straight A student, and anyone can see you’re fit as can be. Just stay healthy, don’t work too hard, keep your life in balance, and you’ll do great!”

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I wish I had her confidence in me!

When I went out for my weekend runs, I tried to believe her: Just keep my life in balance, and I’ll do great!

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But when I ran, my mind kept thinking. I kept on breaking down the splits I’d need to shoot for in order to break the record.

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4:35.42. That’s the number I’m aiming at.

I’m going for negative splits. During cross country, our coach really drilled that into us, and I like it. It feels like the way I approach life, starting out slow, holding back some of my capabilities, and then letting it all loose as I near the finish line.

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The hardest part for me is holding some back. Even in practice, once I’m on the track, I want to start full out. So, during my training runs on my own, I work on running within myself. I try to feel if I’m running at two-thirds capacity, one-half capacity, three-quarters or full out.

I try doing a quarter mile at each.

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Donnie said he wants to run with me. He wants to build up his wind so he’ll do better at wrestling.

We ran together one day. He kept up during the first mile, and nearly kept up during the second, but when I let out during that last 200 yards, I left him so far behind.

I know I shouldn’t feel good about it–I mean, he’s not a runner. But it still felt really good.

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He was an OK sport about it–a little mad, but that’s to be expected, I guess.

The feeling of pulling away from him when I hit the home stretch felt so great. I tried to remember all the sounds and sensations: our feet hitting the pavement together, the cadence of our breathing, then the rush of adrenaline as I pushed forward, and the feeling of breaking away. This is something I love.

This is freedom.

I’m going to start trying this at practice –running with the pack, the pouring it on, and feeling that opening that happens as we reach the end, and I leave them all behind.

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