An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Put on a happy face.

My old high school cross country coach was a smart cookie. You'd have never known it listening to any of us chipping on about what a task-master and all-around goody-two-shoes he was. In fact, in my senior year for our end-of-the-season track banquet, we put together a little band and played "Running on Empty" and a re-write of Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild", affectionately re-named "Born to be Bald" (dedicated, of course, to this same coach and his blessing of a perfectly smooth dome). His response was that he felt a little like Rodney Dangerfield...

My noontime ride on Thursday made me think of something which he did to us during races back in the day (WAY back, like 1981).

He'd see us coming and ask us, "How are you feeling?"


Wrong answer...

He'd ask again, "How are you feeling?"

"Like crap!"

Wrong again...

He'd ask again, "How are you feeling?"


"That's right!" he'd reply.

It would accomplish one of two things: we'd get ticked off and surge, or we'd laugh, smile, and surge.

There's something about smiling, even when you're feeling like crap. It actually helps your speed. Why? You can't smile and NOT feel at least a little better.

I tried it on my ride, though not on purpose. A truck passed a little close, and instead of cursing under my breath, or saluting his apparent intelligence, I just smiled. It was kind of a smile-and-shake-my-head thing, but it was a smile anyway. And an interesting thing happened -- I sped up. I smiled more. I sped up more. It turned into kind of an evil grin, and I spent the rest of the ride in masochistic attack on my average speed number.

Ever watch Chrissie Wellington during an IM? She's got this perma-grin pasted on her face. She's pushing past world-class pace over 8 hours in blazing heat, and she's SMILING like she's just having a little stroll through the park. I'm convinced that she does this to make herself feel better, and therefore IS better and faster. (Photo from

It works. Try it.

Next time you're in an event, put on a happy face. Maybe even give my old cross country coach an "I FEEL GREAT!" down the back-stretch.

Thanks, Larry Sefrovich. Your lessons did stick.

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