Out here in my neck of the woods, we are heavy into the fall 50-miler season. Just over the next three weeks, the Mountain Masochist 50 Mile, the Stone Mill 50 Mile, and the JFK 50 Mile will all go down. As such, many runners around these parts are either putting the finishing touches on their training or soldiering through the last few days of their tapers. In this context, I have been thinking a lot about the legendary University of Oregon track star Steve Prefontaine and his approach to the last few days before a big event.
Pre, of course, was known for a great many things–fearlessly running off the front, unabashedly challenging the status quo, and occasionally racing with a massive hangover to name a few. One of my favorite Pre stories was his custom of running a hard four-minute mile at the Hayward Field track a few days before a major track meet. Not sanctioned by his coach or even backed up by science, Pre simply did that, as he said, to “blow out the carbon.”
These hard, pre-race runs were in Pre’s mind a way to flush out his system both literally and figuratively. He was a firm believer in high risk/high reward and he felt that this custom of blowing out the carbon put him in a better place going into a race not only physically, but also emotionally, psychologically, and perhaps even spiritually. This commitment to pouring himself fully to whatever he did made Pre an inspiration to an entire generation.
As I am wont to do and as I am watching many of my friends preparing for their big fall 50 milers, I recently found myself thinking not only of the running impact of blowing out the carbon but also the overall collective life impact. How often do we need to blow out the carbon in our relationships, our jobs, and our lives? When does the time come for us to clean out the old system with a good, old-fashioned, full-throttle cleanse? I would venture to guess that we need this more often than we think.
So, for all of you out there getting geared up for that final late-season effort, that final race before you settle into holiday excess, please do me a favor and head out one more time to blow out a little carbon. Not only might it make for a little better race, but perhaps even a little better life.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week is the Single Hop Imperial IPA–Apollo from Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland. I had it on tap earlier this week at my local watering hole and was mesmerized. Not at all clingy or chalky, Apollo tasted like a classic West Coast IPA with a flowery twist. It’s not available very often, so when it is, I suggest you get some!
- In running, have you ever “blown out the carbon” Pre style before a big race or event?
- How about that phrase as a life metaphor? At the moment, is there anything you really need to blow the carbon out of in your life? Or have you done that in the past?