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Track Is Like

I hate track. I hate track people. I hate talking about track (especially with track people). I hated coaching track. And now that I think about it, I hated running track. For once in my life, I actually agree with both Emma and Murley.

Track is track. It’s not baseball. It’s not basketball. It’s not football. It’s just plain track; a gay little stick and a fat goalie away from being lacrosse. Track is individual. There is no coaching. There is no teamwork. There are no plays. And yet, track is the most over-coached sport there is.

Track is simple. No push-off. No bounding. And no “dig dig dig.” No, track is just three things: Pose, Fall, Pull. That’s it. Then repeat at nausea. And sometimes pass a baton (gay little stick).

Track is confusing because track does not believe in common sense. Track believes in dual meets. Track believes in singlets. Track believes in 72 and sunny the day before a meet. Then, track believes in 27 and sleeting the day of. The starters believe in track because they get paid to shoot a gun in the air and yell in a megaphone – something Seth Richard probably does in his back yard for fun. Track believes in the city of Williamston. Track believes in carpools at the ass crack of dawn. Track believes in Rudy the bus driver. Track believes in the 300 meter hurdles. Track believes in two hour waits to run for 20 seconds. Track is like the Top Thrill Dragster without the top thrill.

In track, there is little skill and even littler athleticism. There is fast, or not fast. In track, Sonic the Hedgehog can be the best because he can do Sonic the Hedgehog things. That is why there is no coaching in track. But in track, track coaches somehow become legends for “coaching.” In track, coaching means bribing the fast kids in the school. Bribing, in a track sense, means you don’t have to go to practice. It works because in track, you can still be great at track without practicing track. That is why track is track, and not baseball, basketball, or football.

But on the other hand, track is track. Track is outdoors. Track is spring time. Track has the high jump mat. Track has field events. And even though field events breed inbred she-man throwers, field events also breed Darya Klishina. But back to track. Track is laid back. Then suddenly, track is race butterflies. Track is competition. Track is the 4x4 relay to send the team to States. States, by the way, is an undeserved and underappreciated stay in the Amway Grand Hotel. Amway Grand Hotel has a basketball court (not a track) on the 10th floor. But States is the next day – first Saturday in June. And States is awesome!

Then there’s our track. Our track was cement. Our track was a field. Our track was a joke. Then our track got Chris and Brian. Then, track became fun. In our track, we taught the skill of running. In our track, there was Pose, Fall, and Pull. Our track made sense because it was simple. Low volume. High intensity. And the hill. Yes, that hill. But still, there was coaching. Good coaching. Good enough to know it’s not about the coaching. It’s about the individuals. Good individuals = good team. And our team sent nine individuals to States. It was awesome! It was also a school record. But more awesome was Officer Rawse. One year, one state championship. That was our track.

Then came the Champion’s Club (apostrophe included at the time). The Champion’s Club was the new breed. The new breed played actual sports. They played basketball and baseball (well, the girl version of it). But because they were athletes, they could run track – because track is simple. The new breed liked hard work. And the new breed was ready. But then, the track people remembered that track doesn’t like common sense and they became confused. See, track people are stuck in their ways. And I hate track people. So to combat the nature of the track people, we resorted to bribing the fast kids in the school. But we kinda needed them at practice because we taught skill. So we bribed them with Nike Track Bags. Then we soon realized that made no sense. But through it all, we still had the new breed. And the new breed proved to hold up with their reputation to uphold.

When the track people were shown the door, Chris and Brian ran the show. But we soon figured out that track was still track, even without the track people. Because there’s always more track people. These track people had a new name for the new breed. They called them the Chosen Ones. And for once, the track people were right. The Chosen Ones were chosen. That’s because they liked hard work. They played actual sports at the same time they ran track. But they still ran track better than the track people because they were athletes.

The Chosen Ones continued to work hard, but they were outnumbered because there’s always more  track people. The track people made it difficult for Chris and Brian to coach because they did track people things. Like Drama Club. Even though the writing was on the wall, the Chosen Ones kept Chris and Brian in it because they were Champions. But eventually, Chris and Brian were shown the door in a way only track people would do it.

I think I will always hate track people. Track people don’t get track. Since track is simple, and track people get confused easily, you would think the two would get along. But no. Track people can’t follow common sense (which is why they pass out “team rules” at the start of the season). Track people actually think meet points matter. Track people put the slowest kids in the 2 mile. Track people forget to enter the time for Officer Rawse. Track people think they are sprinters – even though they are fat goalies. Track people confuse being out-of-shape with having shin splints. Track people get wheelchair’d into the emergency room to get treated for blisters. Track people program ten 400 meter sprints on the first day of practice (and claim they did twice that “back in their day”). Track people believe that the key to running is pain tolerance. Track people love teaching stress fractures to their best runners. Track people teach slamming your feet into the ground. Track people take the teaching out of track. Instead, track people yell “ALL THE WAY THROUGH” and call it coaching. Who actually needs to be reminded to finish the race all the way through? Besides track people, of course.

Track people made me hate track. But somehow, I still miss track. I miss coaching with Brian because Brian is not a track people. Don’t get me wrong, it was still track (and not baseball, basketball, or football). But we made it fun because we are athletes. We made sense out of it. And most of all, it was about the individuals – like Emma and Murley. I miss the Chosen Ones. They were fun to coach because they gave us a relief from the track people. Bottom line, no Chosen Ones: no track. (But no track also would’ve meant no track people…which would’ve been good. Or bad, depending on how you look at it.) But now, I mostly hate talking about track. Not so much with track people, but with the Chosen Ones. I hate it because I feel bad that they have to deal with the track people. If I had done a better job, maybe they wouldn’t have to. The key is pain tolerance. But I know the Chosen Ones are going to do well regardless of who coaches them, because track is not about the coaching. But track people don’t get track. And never will. So fuck them and just be an athlete.

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Reader Comments (20)

This applies to a significant number of collegiate athletes(sorry, I meant track people) too..
and cross country.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBinno

I lost track.....(LOL but not really, Brian is :(...... if you understand the pun click like). Nice 3rd person BTW

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrian t

There is an old track saying, "It all comes back around...well except the 100, 200, and the hurdles).....

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrian t

Okay I've been saving my comments for this one. I believe you related your post too much to bishop foley, and I know you said that only 1 or 2 people would really love this. I do agree that running is a lot simpler as a sport than most to coach, and that many coaches put way too much thought and useless techniques and drills. All in all I thought the writing is fine, but being a collegiate runner (middle distance-distance) takes training year round, and pose is how you run it doesn't mean you are automatically a fast runner.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

This is good writing? It's more like a game to find a sentence that has more than 5 words in it...

Haha. This just ripped the bandaid off two years worth of festering wounds. And P.S., you don't have to be fast to be good at track! #SLOWANDSTEADY hahahaha. Although I am not good anyway.

Track is a sport that tests a different kind of athleticism than others. While basketball, football, soccer, baseball, and the like test your coordination and accuracy, track tests your speed, strength, and endurance. Put them both together and what do you get? CrossFit. BOOM ROASTED.

March 17, 2014 | Registered CommenterNicole Murley

He related his post to Bishop Foley, I think, because that's where his experience is. I like that it was about something different than the usual posts.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAly

Let me count how many times you used the word track in this post and I might go over a million.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEP

I'm glad I don't do track than hah but I like the way this is written because its different than the normal posts.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErika

This post made me realize that I never admit to running track in high school when people ask me what sports I played. I really hated track, but loved Bua. He never tried to over coach. Mmmm Bua Bua. And Charles Hummer. So, I agree it's the track people, for sure not the "sport" that is fun.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnita

Okay a serious response...first off track is more than just pose, fall, pull. There are GRFs (ground reaction forces) that come into play and technique that comes into play also. As much as you may think there is not a push component, physics tells a different story...(just have someone step off your blocks before you start a race and you will see). The beauty of track or running is that a coach or strength coaches input are quantifiable through either time or distance. Now coaching "chosen" ones can be nice and all but it can be a bit myopic and short sighted, and may leave holes in your programming. Maybe the ability to raise someone up that isn't "chosen" is the true job of the coach.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrian t

Aly, nail on the head.

Anita, were we supposed to run around the bleachers?

March 17, 2014 | Registered CommenterChris Sinagoga

Beans, I also agree. Nice to see you on here man!

March 17, 2014 | Registered CommenterChris Sinagoga

I never did track so I'm uninformed in some of this but other sports also believe in ass-crack early carpools and negative degree game day weather. Other sports don't make sense and other sports have "track people" even CrossFit. I witnessed a guy start curling a loaded barbel during a session just a couple weeks ago at Deviate.. he wasn't kidding and everyone I was standing with was insanely annoyed but that's a whole different story. A lady from deviate was trying to coach me and give me pointers even though her experience with CrossFit was going for maybe a year then she stopped going once she injured her foot for I think about half a year, at least a few months. No Level 1, never been to any other box other than deviate, never competed before, thought she knew it all. Not that you need all of the above to have the general knowledge to coach someone but when I've trained with people like Mariah and Katie B who trained directly after surgery and I have witnessed a man who had one leg compete in Battle of the Boxes, people like this lady are Track people to me. I don't like being coached by track people.

And track people don't want to hear the truth, they don't want to be told that running 2 miles every day actually makes you weaker, that riding an elliptical and running are not equivalents, that fats actually don't make you fat, that "greens" are carbs... the list could go on.

For what Brian said I think there's a difference between coaching someone who isn't "chosen" and coaching track people. It's kind of like how you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink or you can send a kid to college, but you can't make him learn. If track people were open minded and wanted to be coached to be better, they wouldn't be track people, they would be the not "chosen".

And I wrote a book again. Sorry guys, this one hits home for me. I don't like track people either.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan (Murley#2)

Really liked how you wrote this and definitely agree that track people do a lot of stupid stuff. My favorites the kids who wear the full out windbreaker/sweatsuits on the 80*+ days. Those are the same kids who go through hour long warmups (of mostly high knees) that last most of the meet. I totally judge them

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJay

Officer Rawse here, I've always hated track, ever since I was a kid running at GA, but that shits fun when you're a kid so I kept at it. I was a solid sprinter but I was never all that until coach threw me in on the 400 in 7th grade. I won the race and continued winning the race every meet, and at that point I realized I wasn't just on the track team but was an actual asset to the squad. I hated that race with every ounce of my being but I continued to run because I loved to compete and I loved to win.

I went into my freshman year at Lapeer West ready to work and ready to be pushed with high level competition. Coaching was a joke, practice was a joke, we went to every meet completely unorganized and scored little points. I continued to get better on my own with little help.

I came to Foley my junior year excited about a new track program, but it was the same situation except with worse coaching, Bua was a god damn joke he had to business on the track he had no idea what he was doing. It was extremely frustrating running for Bua, he was a coach who enjoyed his job but never really gave a shit about winning, which was the only reason I was there, to win. So I continued working to get myself better with no help and I eventually plateued, I was no longer improving, it happened around mid season and I was running similar times for the remainder of the season. I went to states and placed fourth, Bua was congratulating me but for what? I didn't even PR, I was disappointed with the result and I knew something had to change but I didn't know what.

My senior year rolled around and when I heard Chris was going to be coaching I was instantly stoked, I knew Chris and I knew he wanted to win. First day of practice comes around, wtf is pose??? Wait...there's different ways to RUN? I was already learning. I started improving, quickly, shaving tenths off my time every week. Chris never told me good job, or congratulations or anything like that, just critiquing. I can hear praise from my mother, what I really wanted to know was what I can do to get better, and that's what a coach is for. Pose became more comfortable every week and eventually it was all muscle memory and I was very comfortable with it. States came around and I pulled some miraculous shit and I won, I'll never forget that day meeting Chris at the finish line "congratulations dude you fucking did it!" God damn right, prior to that moment I rarely lost my race but I never felt like I really accomplished anything. Bishop Foley school record? What is that really? A few regional titles, big deal. That was the first day that I actually felt like a winner, I had accomplished my ultimate goal. On that day all of my previous achievements had been eclispsed because I was then able to say that I was a state champion.

When it comes to track, you either want to run, or you want to win, and your coaches are there to help you win. If you join the squad just to run and don't care to better yourself, whatever big deal, just don't go bitching about to coaching when the real issue was your lack of dedication toward the program. You can't be coached to win, you can only be coached to improve. Athletes have a constant urge to get better, to compete, to win, and that was the page Chris was on, he coached to improve, he coached to win. If you want to get better you need to dedicate yourself individually. Track is simple, and dedication and commitment is what separates the track runners from the track athletes. For track people, track is life, but for athletes, track is competition, just something to get better at and ultimately become the best.

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOfficer Rawse

As a track parent, a baseball parent, a volleyball parent, a cross-country parent, a softball parent, a basketball parent, and as a rowing parent, track was Dante's 6th circle of hell. (although I hear swimming and gymnastics might be right there too) Like hell, you'll meet a lot of interesting people, but unless you go to Williamston, track gets the least attention from an athletic department at most schools. I was in band in high school but went out for track my junior year. Hated it. Shin splints, poor form, no coaching. I preferred marching in band over track! I still hate running although now that Chris has me working on pose running, it is less painful on my shins and I'm way more efficient. (So an old dog CAN learn new tricks!)

Emma will be the first one to tell you she was never a "natural" track athlete despite going to State all of those years. She became a better athlete through superior coaching IMHO. This is different from what I've seen from several middle and high schools. Normally, the "Chosen Ones" are the kids with talent whom coaches build a team around. In our fortunate experience, the Chosen Ones were those athletes who craved coaching and became better athletes through extra work with the coaches. Both of my kids are better athletes then they would have been otherwise because of the coaching of Brian and Chris. I believe that is because these coaches didn't mind spending extra time with them going back to fundamentals in order to build up to a higher level of athleticism. Let's face it, being a great athlete isn't in our kids' DNA. :-) It's unfortunate that all high school athletes don't get exposed to this kind of attention.

How much better would our teams be if coaches took the time to coach everyone and not just the naturally talented? Wouldn't it be great if athletes knew that by making themselves better, they can make the team better? How much better would our athletes be if they really believed they were an important enough to be coached and that they are more in control of their destinies than they know - not just in their sport but in the rest of their lives? Isn't that why we participate in sports in the first place?

And one last thing, track sucks.

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Wonsil

"Other sports have track people" - Meghan gets it.

Jay, "I totally judge them" had me laughing

RAWSE!!! Someone must've ghost-written that for you. I've never heard you sound that smart haha. I'll always remember that finish line embrace. That was pretty cool.

Mr. Wonsil, having an Aunt who is a Gymnastics mom, I can tell you that they are probably worse. Aunt Janet goes off a little, but she is actually pretty grounded compared to the other California moms she told me about.

March 18, 2014 | Registered CommenterChris Sinagoga

Those super long comments were fun to read. I like the related experiences.

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAly

This was...not what I expected. Loving the comments though

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

Then you should like Jason's. He made it into a post - which should be up tonight

March 18, 2014 | Registered CommenterChris Sinagoga

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