Each athlete, whether amateur or professional, has the athletic standard they can reach and the level of competition they achieve. The great assumption is we will all work to the best of our ability; however, our mental and physical state along with our previous experiences limit what we can achieve. Malcolm Gladwell writes on this very topic in “Slackers” (New Yorker July 30, 20120), when he highlights the career of running great Alberto Salazar and reviews his new memoir. Gladwell muses that Salazaar is an anti-slacker (my term, not his), who in his prime, worked beyond the expectations of his coaches and co-runners – sometimes to his detriment. Steve Prefontaine ran times far quicker than would be calculated by his vO2 max.

I incorporate the idea of the slacker in my training runs. As my weekly mileage increases and the workouts increase in intensity I hope I will be able to run at the level of competition I have set for myself.  In the last 2 months before Steamtown my goal is to minimize my slacking. Every long run – no slacking. Each interval or hill workout – no slacking. Every lost toenail, blister, sore muscle – no slacking. I have run enough to understand the challenge. Now I just need to run the very best I can.

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