February 2010

Soccer And The Lost Art Of Running

Recently, it has come to my attention that people throw around the word “hate” a little too casually.

I hate her. I hate him. I hate Wayne Rooney.

Really? Do you really detest this certain person that much? I don’t think so. So it gives me great pleasure (or displeasure, I can’t decide) to talk about the one single person I hate on this planet.

I give you Anatoli.

Anatoli was the takeover soccer coach of my middle school club team, Texas Spurs. He was also a 5-foot-nothing Russian jackleg replete with a trophy wife steadfast to his side. In the first tournament we participated in under him, he was ejected before halftime in two of our three games. Anatoli picked favorites, snubbed parents, disrespected our team, and attempted to soak every player for more money.

Oh. You know Anatoli, too?

Before every practice, he instituted complex warm-up drills to improve our fitness, stamina, and ball control. I could deal with that. However, at the end of practice, we would basically run or sprint in the fading Texas heat until at least one player threw up. I could not tell you how many times I day dreamed about Anatoli dying in horrific ways over and over in my head as I tried to keep up with my teammates.

I wasn’t even shaving yet (Well, I’m still not).

In the few remaining games our club team played in before Anatoli broke it apart, I noticed something. We seemed sharper, more focused. Our passes were crisper, our hustle always a threat. The other teams appeared dead, fatigued, flat. I distinctly remember thinking to myself,”Wow, conditioning truly does make a difference!” In the past, I just convinced myself that I didn’t in the excuse of not running as much as possible. To be able to actively run from box to box until the waning moments of the match really does boost the ol’ self esteem. Our record and overall play can attest to that. Anatoli, if you’re reading this, I would like to say thank you in the long run for making conditioning an important role in my soccer career. Oh and you can also go jump off a cliff.

Today, I ran the New Orleans Mardi Gras Half Marathon. As my first official running event, I didn’t know what to expect. On the entry application, I selected three hours as my predicted finish time. I never time myself when running solo, so naturally I was clueless. Classic rookie mistake. I was placed in the last starting point corral, along with 70-year-old men and giggling mothers of four. The good news was that I’m convinced I set the marathon record for most people passed. But overall, I experienced few problems. I knew the course well and the weather turned out beautiful. I finished in one hour, and 45 minutes to make it an almost even 8 minute mile.

Now that I’ve participated, I would honestly say that if you give your 100 percent in a 90 minute soccer match, you will work harder. In a game, you must sprint, run, jog, walk while keeping up with the ball. Not to mention taking time to analyze the pitch and opposing squad. The average midfielder runs six to seven miles each game.  In this marathon, I could run at my own specific pace and coast, along with jamming to my favorite tunes to keep me going. By no means was running this thing easy though. At mile nine, I thought about slowing down to a walk to allow my body to rejuvenate.

A special thanks to GU Energy Gel: I kept on trucking. In the end, I would recommend participating in any running event; I now find it peaceful and enjoyable. Get going!

Tim Patterson is a staff writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at TPatters@tulane.edu.

Tim Patterson