Here is Why Track Is Life

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The last several weeks, the CYC has held our three preliminary track meets of the season. Meets were held at Trinity HS, DuBourg HS and Chaminade HS. Approximately 700 athletes competing at each venue. Coaches and parent volunteers working in cooperation with each other to orchestrate a seamless event. The weather has been beautiful. The facilities are top notch. Track is fun!

One Saturday, I sat on a bleacher and tried to soak it all in. I listened. Words of encouragement from coaches and parents. Everyone yelling; so as to be heard above the yelling of the person next to them. I began to write down everything I heard. I looked at the list, and realized a common thread among the many phrases and exclamations. When we say that sports is a great teacher of life lessons, track has it nailed down. Track is life.

Here is what I heard:

Don’t Look Back – Why don’t you look back? Because your focus should always be on the finish line. Because the runner behind you does not control your effort or your finish. Your focus should always be toward the goal. The finish line. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by looking back. Looking back will slow you down and it will mess with your mind.

Time To Kick It – Sometimes we are cruising along at a pace where we are comfortable. We are conserving our energy for something else. There is a point in the race, usually at or near the last turn, where it’s time to lay it all out there on the track. Dig deep inside, find strength and energy you didn’t know you had, and give it your all to the finish. The other important aspect to this is there is a time to “kick it”. Too early; you will burn out before the finish. Too late; you will lose to the runner who knew when to “kick it”. It’s about timing and knowing your own limits.

All Guts – There is a place in the race where you believe you have no energy remaining. Movement hurts. Your lungs are screaming for mercy. “All Guts” means you give everything you have when you have practically nothing left. It’s not going to be comfortable, but the rewards can be awesome. Oftentimes the “all guts” runner will defeat the more athletically talented runner because their effort, mentally and physically, was superior.

Stay In Your Lane – When you veer into someone else’s lane, you interfere with their progress. Usually it is unintentional. It is another example of focus. Pay attention to your job. Let them do their job. Staying in your lane, depending on the race, is also the rule. Run the race the right way. Obey the rules. Respect the sport.

All The Way – You hear this near the finish line. Sometimes we coast to the finish when we know our opponent is far behind. Sometimes we let up because we know we can’t win. When we do this, we are disrespecting ourselves. You can be proud of your race if you know you put forth your best effort from start to finish. Don’t slack off near the end. Give it all to the finish.

Don’t Forget To Breathe – Sometimes we are really into the race. We obsess over arm positioning, pace, foot placement, distance to the turn, distance to the finish, distance to the car. We forget the most important thing; we lose track of our breathing. It’s the basics. Before you can master the intricacies of the sport, you need to control the basics. Breathing controls everything else. It’s the main thing.

• Have Fun – The most important aspect of sports. The greatest thing about CYC track is watching the kids finish. It’s wonderful how many times the kid in fifth or sixth place, sometimes by a wide margin, crosses the finish line with a big smile on their face. I saw a kid finish the 200, in last place, who actually skipped across the finish line. Many times, coaches are at the finish to congratulate the runner who came in fourth, but set a new personal record time. Smiles should always accompany a finish.

Here is another thing I noticed while listening to the track meet. Everything is positive. No one is yelling at the officials, no parents criticizing running or throwing strategy of the athletes, no chastising because of a finish other than first. Just encouragement and support for a job well done.

Kids running, throwing and jumping on a beautiful day, all the while learning life lessons that will serve them well in the future. Track is life!