Ah, Memorial Day weekend. It marks not only the unofficial start of summer, but also the unofficial start of cross country base training. That means plenty of cross training.
For those unaware, base training is an essential period of a runner’s training plan, wherein the runner builds his aerobic “base,” so that his cardiorespiratory system is in prime fitness when it comes time to throw in some interval and speed work down the road. The period is marked by high mileage, long runs, and plenty of tempos.
Last year, I started my base training too hard. I was cruising through most of my runs sub-7:15 pace, which was much too fast for me at the time. I left little time for recovery, and the physical stress of it was secretly taking its toll on my body. In mid to late July, I suffered a stress fracture from overtraining. For the following two months, I could do little but cross training. I alternated daily between Aquajogging, lap swimming, mountain biking, and (toward the later part of my injury) spin biking. Sometimes I would even combine two in a day. By the time I returned, I was in prime aerobic condition and ready for a moderately successful cross country season.
My predicament led me to realize the value in cross training. Before my injury, I would not have been found swimming laps in the pool, ever. But now, although it seems incredibly boring and tedious to me to cross train instead of run, I have realized that cross training is an important tool for any runner looking to step up to that next level. This year, when I am in perfect health, God permitting, I plan to incorporate cross training into my weekly, if not daily, training regiment. It allows me to expand my aerobic base beyond what I will develop through running without the additional stress of putting in more miles pounding on the hard asphalt.
So this year, I’m taking it differently. This year, I will succeed. This year, cross country will not know what hit it.
Let the cross training begin.
Great times, new PRs, and no injuries. This year could not have ended better for me. After my disappointing, extremely taxing cross country season with the hindrance of my stress fracture holding me back, I was finally able to let myself free and succeed in my running without a nagging injury. Overuse-caused injuries have haunted my running career for the past two years. I believe that a major difference between the years that might account for the break in the pattern is my implementation of new injury prevention techniques.
Everyone has their own injury threshold—the point where any additional training stress will result inevitably in an injury—and I think that I have finally exposed and isolated mine through trial and error. After so many injuries in the past, I have begun to notice not only when an increase in training might result an injury but also new techniques I might use to avoid one during a training peak.
In my personal experience, I have found that switching out one day per week of running for a day of cross training has helped me keep my aerobic base at a substantially high level while giving my bones and muscles more specific to running time to revive. Also, I have begun taking calcium supplements to corroborate the strength of my bones to decrease the likelihood of stress fractures. Although every now and then, I still feel ghost pains of my old injury, in general, I have remained pain free and happy in my running. Note that this is all taken from personal experience; every body reacts differently to training and injuries. This is just what I have learned about my body. I encourage all runners to feel out their training boundaries and find what they can do to avoid injuries.
Back to a brief summary of my season. I ended indoor in excitement with an eighth place finish and school record with my relay team in the Distance Medley Relay at the PTFCA State Meet. Going into indoor, I quickly broke 9:50 in the 3200m, earning my first personal District Championship qualifier. By the end of the season, I had run 9:37 in the 3200m, 4:29.3 in the 1600m (about a mile), and 1:57.5 in the 800m (although this was in a 4x800m relay, so the time is unofficial). We also made it past Semi-Finals in the Districts 4x800m with a new school record of 7:57.98. I set a new Personal Record in all three of my events and performed well for my team. I am very happy with my season and excited about entering summer training in preparation for cross country!
This was a response I wrote to the prompt, “What is art?”, created by the school’s literary magazine. They cut it short because it could only be a paragraph, so I decided to post the entire essay. The whole piece is on the more abstract side, especially for me, for I usually enjoy writing very down-to-earth, fact-based papers.
Well, here it is:
From black and white scores frantically scribbled down by solemn faced musicians to oddly constructed feats of architecture that spice cityscapes across the world, art implants itself in a vast field of media, causing a specific definition to elude this intrinsic piece to human culture. Far too often, society brushes by seeing art only as the work of an artist with an easel and palette of paints. Even in the American school system, the art department only consists of crafts such as painting, drawing, and jewelry, yet music and even classes such as woodshop fall into separate categories. Certainly one could classify these areas as artistic crafts as well. Upon further philosophical reflection, thinkers come to realize that no definition can fit the emotions each human experiences when he or she perceives and embraces a piece of artwork. Art can embody any object, performance, or idea that, when sensed by an individual, generates an array of strong emotions within that particular being. In this sense of the word, any object or occurrence within the world may fall into this broad category of art, and more importantly, what one defines as art, another might not. From these generalizations, one can find specific characteristics to define what he considers art.
One may consider anything that triggers a strong emotional response art. This definition holds especially true when the creator intended it to do so. Building from this statement, now, music, art in the traditional sense, architecture, literature, and nature may fit under the all-encompassing embrace of the word. When an individual senses or perceives this artwork, a wave of varying and either strong or conflicting emotions washes over him or her, and one may not consider the piece art until this effect occurs. This causal relationship allows one to define the piece as art. Because art is an object, performance, or idea that triggers strong emotions, if one experiences a vast array of emotions when experiencing such an entity, then, and only then, can he consider it art. In this manner, the ending embodies the proof. Because one defines art on an individual basis, entailing that no one can inform another that a particular piece is artwork, this process of self-revelation is the only manner in which one discovers and validates the artistic character of a piece. The reaction of the onlooker defines a piece as artwork, but this opens up many new endless avenues as to the possible forms of artwork never before classified as such.
If the only requirement for artwork is its ability to evoke a strong emotional response in its human subjects, then surely one may consider many more entities art than ever imagined. For example, the warm glow of a golden incandescent lamp in a dimly-lit well-furnished room evokes feelings of homeliness and contentment in most. Surely the manufacturers and purchasers of this lamp produced it for the sole purpose of giving light, but taken in the context of a homely room, it resonates with warm emotions to those who perceive it. The emotions caused by the lamp define it as art. Perhaps the best relationship to such a re-conceptualization is photography. The old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” truly underestimates the power of a picture. A well taken photograph delves into the deepest roots of the human subconscious, toying with innumerable emotions and thoughts. Most surprisingly, some of the most touching photographs are those taken of ordinary objects. Setting photo editing techniques aside, in most cases, this photo represents a direct representation of a real life object. If this window represents art, then the object itself must as well, for it would convey the same feelings given off by the photo. Therefore, one may consider the lamp artwork simply for the emotions perceived because of it; although, another may not experience the same feelings when viewing such a piece.
Individuals define art for themselves, so what is art for one may not be art for another. For example, thinking back to the Renaissance and the works of great men like Leonardo Da Vinci, one may consider his other creations beyond his elaborate paintings artwork. One of his contemporaries may have received a strong rush of excitement and similar emotions while reading his notebooks illustrating revolutionary new ideas regarding motion and flight. This would set the notebooks apart as artwork, and just as a photo acts as a window to a subject, the notebook plays the role of a window to an idea. This idea, the idea of human flight, evokes the array of emotions felt by the contemporary, and therefore would fall under the category of art. Just as the painter creates a painting as artwork and the sculptor molds his model, the thinker contrives his idea. Ideas can cause emotion and all have a creator; the only characteristic an idea lacks in comparison to artwork of the traditional sense is physical presence; however, music lacks this physical presence as well. Music travels through energy as sounds just as ideas travel through energy as thoughts. Therefore, the contemporary categorizes the idea as art. However, a staunch conservative of the same time period may look at the idea as nonsense and not even pause to think much of it. This fails to meet the definition of art, so one may consider an object or idea art while another considers it nothing of the kind. This further emphasizes the point that one cannot impose the artistic legitimacy of a piece onto another.
For one to consider an object artistic, it must evoke a powerful set of emotions from that particular individual. Any media can encapsulate art, as long as it causes a strong emotional response, and therefore, there few limits exist for what art can be. Only those perceiving the art can verify the artistic validity or character of an object for themselves. If more human beings would open up their minds to the potential for artwork to be found in everyday life, then perhaps their imagination would flourish and they would live happier lives enriched by the emotions brought on by the art. Members of modern society need to re-conceptualize their ideas of art and tune themselves in to their own personal reaction and interpretation of everyday masterpieces. If an object or idea must only evoke strong emotions among its viewers to be defined as art, then artwork must lay concealed everywhere in life just waiting to enrich the life of whoever spends the moment required to take it in.
This summer, I worked to develop a website for my cross country team that could display race results, the roster, upcoming events, announcements, athletic profiles, and such. I spent a good deal of time putting in the code to create the website and then even more time developing a control panel that my coach and selected teammates could use to maintain it. However, now my coach has formulated an idea about creating an easy to use training program program that would allow him to write training programs for the team using easy to use controls.
The problem seems simple enough. Create a calendar, add a few skeleton workouts, and send it off, right? Well, I have not even started the coding yet, but even just when the the idea is a budding thought in my head, I can already foresee a few blockades in the creation process. For example: how should the pacing be handled? Should I use the VDOT system, McMillan running calculator, the PaceWheel? Should I make the program able to accommodate training programs designed for entire teams or just strictly for individuals?
I would appreciate any input you might have as to what you would like to see in a training program program. I’ll be sure that you receive a free copy (for Windows only) once I finish it.
In an endurance sport that requires as much time commitment and dedication as long distance running, runners who shirk their workload and shy away from trading rarely prosper and lock into the sport, instead usually turning away from training after a relatively short span of time. Therefore, all serious distance runners, the ones who give their all in every workout and show up on race day prepared to push themselves to their limits and beyond, separate themselves out as the crème de la crème of endurance athletes, drawing the line between the jogger and the true runner. Unlike many other situations in the sporting world, this elite group is not classified by a specific time to break or placement to achieve, rather determined by just how far they can push themselves out of their comfort zone. As long as they show up and give 110 percent on race day, they are a runner. I like to consider myself a member of this group, pushing myself in every workout and every training run, milking my training to its last; however, I have noticed that a point does exist in which I push myself too far. As much as I love to give it my all any day and everyday, I have come to the realization that there is a cap on the amount of effort I can throw in my running. As much as I would like my training bounds to have no limits, allowing me to work as hard as I want whenever I want, I have come to the realization that I have a very finite supply of effort that I can throw in the burner. This is not because I tire out and despair falling to the level of the Sunday jogger, but because if I overspend my budget, then I get injured. Runners must limit their training so they do not run themselves straight into the brick wall of injuries, rather finding the right balance of training and milking it for what it is worth and saving up for race day. Every runner must take injuries seriously and not overlook any signs of one budding. The hardest part of this concept is to find the right balance between slacking off and injury that will eventually lead to prime racing condition. Cross training presents one of the best ways to keep the balance and even work harder without the omnipotent threat of injury. Many dedicated runners tend to ignore injuries and not take them seriously, but this will inevitably lead to a ruined season.
In many cases, a runner can start to feel a budding injury days before it becomes serious; however, many overlook it, not wanting to interrupt their training and loose fitness, but end up losing all of their fitness in the end. Speaking from personal experience, in my base training period for cross-country, I overworked myself running sub-7:15 min/mile runs everyday (too fast for me at the time) and overly hard workouts. A pain began nagging at my foot, but by the time I reported it and conceded to going to see a doctor, it was already too late. I had three stress fractures in my first three metatarsals and my cross-country season essentially ended. I had some hope of returning at the end of the season, but as to the means of maintaining, and even gaining, fitness over that three-month time period, I was dumbfounded. Luckily, I focused my determination and channeled it through cross training, which provided me with the fitness I needed to finish out the season with a sub-17 minute 5k. Looking beyond the generally positive ultimate outcome, who knows how fast I could have run had I not injured myself and set myself on the sideline for half of the season. Just last week, one of my teammates for indoor track said he was experiencing Achilles pain, but he proceeded to ask me what we were running that day and what the interval workout would be the next day. He explained that he did not want to get behind on his fitness and needed to maintain his level of training. I was appalled. I told him that he was walking a tight rope and to think of all the fitness he would lose if he injured himself. A three-month injury would knock him out for the rest of the school year. He had to choose between three months and a few days. As paranoid as endurance athletes get over their fitness, athletes do not really start losing fitness until a week after they stop training, and even then it is only in small increments. The general negative feeling behind skipping a workout can cause the devoted runner to ignore his injury just to run the workout. If he does injure himself, at least he will die valiantly rather than in shirking practice. The running community needs to define that it does not slight them to skip a few days in training to avoid an injury; fellow runners must not frown on it, and instead support him, as it is much harder for the potentially-injured to skip the workout than it would have been for him to run it.
Finding the right balance of training between not fulfilling one’s potential and injuring oneself challenges every runner, and the only way to solidify an individual’s boundaries is to listen to the body. Through feeling out my body’s response to training and observing trends based on certain parameters, such as mileage on shoes, point in training, and mileage per week, I have determined certain training situations to avoid and thereby avoid injuries. Unfortunately, I am not as fine-tuned to my body as I would hope, so most of these observations come from past injuries. I learn from my previous mistakes and build my knowledge base to avoid them in the future, but it certainly would be much nicer to listen to my body and avoid them in the first place. Through empirical observation, I have noted that I tend to reach my personal injury threshold when I exceed approximately 42 miles per week in training or fail to replace my shoes once they exceed 450 accumulated miles. I have also learned that, although I am a proponent of minimalist footwear, as my mileage spikes, I require footwear with a little more support than true minimalist footwear in order to avoid injury. Tweaking training plans slightly to avoid these parameters can greatly reduce one’s risk of injury, but workarounds exist so that one does not have to limit training load.
Cross training allows endurance athletes to continue increasing training load without increasing weekly mileage. When I was recovering from my stress fracture, I aquajogged, swam, and biked every day to continue my climb in fitness. These alternative aerobic exercises have very little or no impact force that causes stress fractures, so they presented the perfect opportunity for me to continue my training. Now, not all injuries are impact based, but most do have a set of alternative cross training exercises available that can be used to preserve and even increase fitness. Even now that I have recovered, I still eliminate one run per week and replace it with a bike ride on my spin bike downstairs to ensure that the muscles and bones that I use every day running get a chance to recover. This summer, when I enter cross-country base training again, I plan to not increase my intensity and volume of my running as much as I did last year, but also to cross train every day as a fitness supplement to my training. As boring as some forms of cross training are (aquajogging, cough, cough), they really do help to avoid injury.
Overall, runners cannot view the world of training as a boundless prairie, rather a foggy mesa that’s cliff edges hide from the eyes of the unsuspecting. Runners who begin to feel any sign of an injury need to react immediately by letting up on training overload, or else face the wrath of months of recovery. Those in tune with their bodies can find certain parameters in their training programs that make them more prone to injury and thereafter avoid these combinations. Cross training presents a valuable safety buffer to all runners by allowing them to recover from the daily stress of running through a different form of aerobic exercise. Therefore, although injuries at times seem random and unpredictable, through careful observation and precautions, athletes may avoid these unfortunate outcomes intrinsic to running.
I wrote this for fun as a response to a philosophical question posed in English class.
Although revenge acts as an intrinsic aspect of human nature and a looming presence in society, in no circumstances is it ever justified when taken in the context of a developed government and codified justice system. This issue over the nature of revenge and its place in the world encroaches upon all areas of natural philosophy, especially those of justice, punishment, and the purpose and reach of the law. The line blurs when looking between the traditional behavioral characteristics of humans living unbound to a united political structure and those that live as citizens in the modern world. I concede that revenge once constituted an important aspect of human social relations; however, now it has been replaced by the common law and holds no place within the developed world.
Looking back to the ways of ancient human nature and building off the philosophy of the English Enlightenment thinker, Thomas Hobbes, natural human nature drives men to selfish pursuits, fighting to preserve their own property and liberties. Being that there was no established government or law other than that of nature, each inhabitant must ensure their own rights and freedom. In this barbaric state, revenge truly is the only form of punishment available. Human instinct naturally incorporates this reaction right next to self-preservation. Every single human is infused with this instinct to seek revenge for personal protection, as it is the only form of punishment available to individuals. However, once this instinctive position for revenge is lost when men concede their freedoms to a common group called the nation, there no longer remains a place for the instinct and it is overwhelmed by the prevalence of reason, falling down to the depths among the crimes it was intended to prevent.
In the modern-day, united in law, revenge has become obsolete. Now, equal judicial courts, established law, and precedence hold the sole authority and duty to preserve the rights of citizens ranging from life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to security, property, fraternity, and equality. The government takes on the utilitarian goal to make as many of its citizens as happy as possible on average. No longer do individuals pursue personal revenge as a means to seek punishment, rather, they turn the matter in to the higher courts of justice designed to determine fair punishments for such matters. Therefore, because justice has shifted from the hands of the individual in the form of revenge to those of government, revenge can no longer be considered justified. If individual will was subject to determine the amount of punishment due through revenge, how can this maintain the state of equality under the law that modern society has taken so long to construct? On those lines, our laws provide us with a system of equal, established, and accepted punishments to deal with nearly all crimes. That point made, because equality is an essential characteristic of modern society, and revenge clearly does not preserve equality, then revenge does not hold a place in this day and age.
Speaking personally, I know that I do seek revenge at times, but in the end, it always acts to the detriment of my honor and against the established morals of modern society. Revenge once held a place in the world, but that time has long passed leaving the remnants of the instinct driving humans to rash reactionary retaliation. Now, revenge has been replaced by a code of equal laws and punishments within an established justice system. Therefore, because revenge directly contradicts the established ideals of modern society, it no longer holds any justification in the world today.
Ever wanted to look up definitions to multiple words at once? Tired of spending fifteen to twenty minutes of your valuable time looking up tedious definitions?
Then this program is for you! Just type in three pieces of information: your list of vocab words, the number of definitions you want to look up for each word (assuming there are more than one), and the location where you want the file saved.
The program looks up the requested data from Merriam-Webster Dictionary online and saves the definitions in a .csv (Comma Separated Value) file that can be opened and formatted with Microsoft Excel and then printed.
I am a beginner programmer, and this program is completely free.
Let me know what you think!
- Windows-based computer with Command Prompt (if it’s a common windows platform, you have it)
- A lot of vocab words without definitions
To download, follow the link, copy the .exe file in the folder to your desktop. Double click the copied .exe file (on your desktop), and enjoy!