Here are five things that I learned or was reminded of this week:
1. Softball can be an endurance sport.
2. I have muscles in places that I did not know existed.
3. Vacations are great but they are like a vapor. They tend to go quickly.
4. Healthy choice dinners are simply not enough for dinner.
5. If there is such a thing as Olympic withdrawal, I’m having it.
What did you learn this week?
1. I wonder how many MPH I’m going.
2. I’m horrible at math.
3. Why am I thinking about math?
4. The humidity is fierce.
5. I feel like a human sprinkler.
6. I’m excited about the Olympics.
7. Pomp and circumstance.
8. I like to run fast.
9. Olympians are really fast.
10. Wow, I’m slow.
Had any random thoughts lately?
For non runners, the sport of running is no fun to watch. You won’t see many running broadcasts on TV unless it’s an Olympic year and even then the ratings aren’t very high. Running isn’t action packed. It’s just not that big of a spectator sport. There isn’t enough drama.
The reason that there isn’t any drama in running is because there isn’t a villain.
Every story you read has an antagonist. The one person that is the exact opposite of our hero. The two are at odds with each other. One wants to achieve a goal while the other wants to prevent it. That is the essence of drama.
There are plenty of heroes in running. Runners like to give back. We have all ran in charity events. Most of the races that we participate in support a cause in one way or another. All in all, runners are nice people and that’s a problem. Running needs a heel.
We need a bad boy or girl. A person who talks trash and occasionally breaks the rules. We need a runner with exceptional talent along with exceptional cockiness. A runner who can run with the best but act like the worst. Running needs its own Dennis Rodman.
Every sport has a villain. The NBA had Rodman. The NFL has Ndamukong Suh. Baseball had Barry Bonds and hockey has… that big bearded guy. And those sports are full of drama. Drama that we love to watch. Running? Not so much.
If running wants to emerge as a watchable sport, then a villain needs to rise.
Of course, this is all hypothetical. I’m not encouraging anyone to be mean while they run. We don’t want people who are going to go out and trip people and knock other runners over. Running just needs a little more attitude. A little less Tebow and a little more Rodman.
Who is your favorite sports villain?
I hear this all the time, “I had to stop and walk. It was embarrassing.” Why do we feel shame in walking?
I used to feel shame in having to stop and walk. I hated to stop. In my mind, walking meant giving up. It was mainly an ego thing. It hurt my pride and if there were someone else running by me, I would make sure they didn’t see me walking. But the truth is, there is no shame in walking. Some days you have it and some days you don’t. There are times that, despite what you do, the body doesn’t respond. So, lets squash the idea that walking equals failure.
Have you ever watched race walking? These athletes are race walking:
It’s one of those obscure sports that you might watch on ESPN 8, the Ocho. It comes on right after dodgeball and before lawnmower racing. But did you know that it’s an Olympic event? Elite walkers, from all over the world, come together every four years to see who is the best and fastest… walker. So if walking is a world class sport, how can we be ashamed of doing it?
Some runners deliberately schedule walk breaks during their training runs and some even do it during a race.
Walking has it’s benefits. It’s easier on the joints. It keeps the heart rate where it needs to be. It helps with the mental challenges of long runs.
Trainer and running coach, Jeff Galloway, has developed a run-walk-run plan that helps people complete marathons. His success rate for this method is 98%. Now how can we argue with that?
Let’s swallow our pride and not beat ourselves up about having to walk. After all, the goal is to finish not break speed records.
Take a look at the photo above. If you look right in the middle, you will see yours truly. I’m the guy with the black compression socks and the orange arm warmers. This photo was taken at the Chicago marathon. The spectators you see lining the streets were there the whole way. There wasn’t anywhere through out the course that there was a lack of people cheering for us from the sidewalk. The fans were great and supportive but as you probably already know, it’s not always like this.
So with the U.S. Olympic marathon trials coming up this weekend, it made me ponder just how popular american distance running is. Distance running is a popular sport, however it is a niche sport. It’s a pastime but it’s not America’s pastime. It doesn’t have the passionate following of baseball and football but people do come out to watch.
I plan to watch the trials on the internet but I know most people won’t. Why? Because it’s not violent. It’s not full contact. It’s not action packed and it’s not flashy. From a spectator’s point of view, I can see how it would be hard to watch.
The 100 meter sprint is exciting to watch. Who doesn’t like to see Usain Bolt blow the doors off his competition? However, distance racing, from the spectator point of view, is not exciting. We don’t jump out of our seats when someone in the pack makes a break. Distance runners don’t talk trash. They don’t run out of a tunnel with blaring music, smoke and pyrotechnics and they don’t chant like Drew Bree’s and the Saint’s before the gun goes off. It is what it is. The only people I know that get excited about distance racing are distance runners. But before you decide to settle that our sport isn’t spectator sport, take a look at these numbers.
The most popular 10K in the country, the Peachtree Road Race, has more than 100,000 spectators. The average attendance for an Atlanta Falcons home game in 2010 was 68,986.
The 2010 Boston Marathon had over 500,000 thousand spectators. The average attendance for a Boston Celtic’s home game in the same year was 18,624.
The 2010 Chicago marathon had 1,500,000 spectators. The average attendance for a Chicago Cubs home game in 2010 was 35,028.
The numbers have to be put in perspective. These races are once a year events and they often take place throughout most of the city but still, those numbers are pretty impressive. People are interested. People want to watch. People do show up.
How is the spectator turn out during your races?