Paying it Forward
In the spirit of full disclosure, I let “global running day” come and go. The only acknowledgement I could muster was a retweet of someone else saying, “happy global running day.” So let me tell you how I really feel about running—more specifically how I feel about track and field.
But before that…some context.
I was a three-sport athlete for years: volleyball, basketball, track. But some time during my sophomore year my dad knocked on my door and asked to talk to me. This was a rare thing, I knew it was going to be important. Not one to mince words he said, “your mom and I are not going to pay for you to go to college, so find a way to get there.”
Most people would have been taken aback. But I’m not most people- I dive head first into challenges such as these. No sooner than he broke the news to me did I say, “if I get a full ride to college then you and mom need to buy me a car- if you do the math you still make out like bandits.”
We shook on it.
We had a deal.
After he closed my bedroom door I objectively analyzed my skill level in all three of my sports. Volleyball: can’t overhand serve (deal breaker for Varsity) Basketball: ball handling skills are laughable. I decided my best shot to get an athletic scholarship was to go all in with Track and Field.
And thats that.
That’s how it was decided.
That is how I became a track athlete.
**Why I chose the long jump is an entirely different (hilarious and ironic) story for another time but I promise to tell it.**
If it weren’t for track and field I would not have had the opportunity to leave Ohio, something that I badly wanted and needed to do. Obviously, it also opened the door to higher education for me. I was already a superb student but track and field gave me exposure to institutions I would have never even thought to consider before.
Sorry, I got a little ahead of myself...
At the time when I made the decision to only focus on track and field I wasn’t yet good enough to be “full scholarship” potential. I had the potential to be. But it hadn’t been realized. I had to actively seek out opportunities to learn and improve. That meant going to camps or challenging myself with tougher competitions. I had to become a student of the sport so that I could improve in the sport.
Twelve years into my professional track career after visiting more countries than I can count, meeting more people than I am capable of remembering, experiencing cultures in ways I could not have otherwise, and not to mention the money I’ve been able to earn— I can’t help but to reflect on my relationship with the sport, how it has changed my life, and how I can give back to it.
I have an answer:
The “Why You’re Not a Track Star” Project.
It’s a short book that I’ve written that presents five of the most common reasons track and field athletes (13 and older) aren’t as good as they want to be, or aren't performing as they should be.
After writing this book I decided that young athletes probably needed a little more support. I felt that I needed to consider that these young athletes might not bother to read the book at all. So I built a website to support the book. Turns out it’s a huge undertaking, I want the book and website to be a go-to resource for athletes and finding the time to generate content or film videos has been difficult to come by between my own training, travel, and competition schedule (not to mention the demands of home at the time) But even “as-is” the book and website can help someone-somewhere.
And so, without further ado I am presenting my project to all of you. I’ve worked on it in secret for the past three years and I present it to you today as my gift and contribution back to a sport that has done so much for me with the hopes that it will not only inspire but inform a future generation of track stars.
Please download the book (even if you believe you don’t have time to read it), visit the website and give me any feedback you wish (either in the comments on this blog or on FB) it can only grow from here.