Today I went for a run in Newark after my reserve stretch ended. Right as I got started, it was 15 degrees and a light snow was starting to fall. The sidewalks here in Newark have not been plowed and there is much snow; yet I forged ahead, with my thoughts.
When I run by myself, my brain wanders a lot. Combine that with being thousands of miles from home and it wanders more. Today, it got me thinking to early season training.
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, winter is often a time of rest. Our races don't start until April/May and the weather is often too cold to let us properly train. Yet I was out there today, with no races on my docket (officially yet) and in temperatures I thought were beyond my limit.
And yet there I was, pounding out the miles.
We've all seen the ads. The lone player on the football team, staying out on the field long after practice is over. Or the hockey player who is on the ice before the rest of his team. Usually they are put out by a sporting company, one that talks about dedication and hard work. Which got me thinking even further - when are champions made?
We all know that trophies are not won mid-season. In baseball, the team that has the hottest pitching in September is going to be the World Series champ in October. In college hockey, the team that can ride the hot goalie will lift the trophy in April.
In the case of triathlon and running, champions are not fluky. They begin to be forged in the off-season. They run on 15 degree days and in the snow. They endure the miles in the pool at 5 am on a weekend. They ride on the trainer when others are at happy hour. That's when a champion is forged. That's when you are a champion.
I will never win a race. But today, for one brief run, I was a champion.