Horner ’15- As Wabash students surrounded by testosterone-filled fellows hell-bent on making others see their way, we are constantly assaulted by passionate pleas and ridiculous requests for support of a movement or organization. The inherent abundance of Type-A personalities here at Wabash ensures that we will always be surrounded by arguments and conflict.
The most recent example of this is an opinion article published in today’s edition of The Bachelor, our school newspaper, by Reed Hepburn. His article can be viewed here: http://i1070.photobucket.com/albums/u483/runforever15/RHep.png
. In the article, Hepburn explains why, in his opinion, “Cross-Country is a silly sport.” Despite the emotional strings that this article pulls for me and other members of the running community, I’d like to apply what Wabash College has taught me in the last year and provide a critical analysis of the logic involved in this article.
Hepburn’s first claim against running revolves around the supposed simplicity of the
sport, because it is a “part of most other sports.” Hepburn also claims that “Running is a great hobby, but a sport consisting of only running is frankly too simple and boring to rank among the likes of soccer or lacrosse.” He compares running to ball-sports where athletes must “multi-task.”
Let’s examine that quickly: Apparently an activity becomes a “sport” when it becomes
complex? False. I believe, and I’m sure many runners would agree, that the beauty of running lies in its simplicity. While in other sports (and this is not an attack on other sports, but merely a defense of cross-country) athletes are focusing on the movement of multiple players, the ball, and their own limbs, in running races there are few things for runner to focus on… making it all the more vital that he does not slip and maintains his pace in the face of mounting difficulty. While other sports are an exercise in hand-eye coordination, racing cross-country is an exercise in mental tenacity. There is nothing to do but suffer and maintain. Come out for a 16 mile long run or join in on a 8k or 10k race and we’ll take you to a mental state you don’t ever want to be in, Mr. Hepburn. There is nothing quite like it.
Hepburn also claims that the members of his house were getting up early because they
“had to run at 6 am” and that their sleeping schedules were ruining the pledgeship of other individuals by getting to bed early. I will not even try to debate the logic of getting a decent night’s sleep (oh the horror!) and ruining their brothers’ nights (because, you know, sleeping is such a loud, raucous activity). Instead, let’s focus on what Hepburn says next:
He writes, “athletes in other sports had to do more than just running in the morning.”
There are multiple problems with this statement: First, our “morning run practices” that he mentions were actually morning circuit practices. We were participating in a 40-50 minute circuit of strength exercises, including lifting, core, and sprinting exercises designed to build general athletic strength. I will grant you this though Mr. Hepburn: many times after these circuits, the masochist members of our team had to trudge through the door for a morning run.
Second, Hepburn continuously implies that other athletes spend time in a variety of exercises, while runners “just” run. As the last paragraph proves, we do much more than just run. However, as an exercise I decided to count up just how much time runners spend
doing things other than running for cross-country. Four weeks ago, before a setback due to injury, I was running 80 miles per week. I’ve now gone back and examined my training log for that week, and it appears that I spent approximately 9 hours of that week running, and only 14 hours of that week in some activity related to making myself a faster runner (yoga, stretching, strength exercises, hurdle drills, core workouts, lifting, etc.)
Lest you still believe running is a “simple” sport, may I bring a point to your attention? First, pick up a copy of Running Times magazine on your next trip through Barnes and Noble and turn through the pages. I just picked up my most recent issue and found these topics discussed: altitude effects, V02 testing, lactate threshold, turnover rate, stride length, over or under pronation, positive vs. negative splitting, hill training, interval training, static vs. dynamic stretching, etc. … sounds “simple” right? Maybe racing is a relatively simple activity, but training couldn’t get much more complicated.
Let’s remember that the original “sport” occurred in Greece during the PanHellenic Games with the advent of the stadion (about 190 meters) running race. Those games became the basis for our modern Olympic Games, regarded by many as the greatest sporting event in the world.
Basically, don’t attack running for being a different kind of sport. Also, do your research before attacking running’s “simplicity” because running is only simple in races.
Training is complex and complicated. I would never write an article about the Wabash Golf team without first contacting the coach and/or players and getting a feel for the sport or tagging along for practices and races.