By David Siik
David Siik: Running Coach and Burn 60 Fitness Instructor – Photo Credit: Evan Gunville
I remember every second of the final 200 meters of my racing career. I had just made my final move, heart banging against my chest as the muted hum of the NCAA championships throbbed in my ears. I had made it to the crowning moment for any college runner. I was so close to everything I ever wanted…
As I spent August enjoying the Summer Olympics, I found myself reliving the excitement of my own time as a racer, becoming re-inspired and re-energized and ultimately reminded of how badly I want others to share in that experience. Perhaps it is no surprise that I now find myself crafting and coaching treadmill running classes, re-searching and writing on the topic, and finding the joy in helping people realize a potential they never knew existed.
So many people come to me, stimulated and excited after the Olympics, wide-eyed and optimistic. I tell them all the same thing, “USE THAT FEELING!” There is no better time, then when you feel inspired. There are more running races in NY, in just about every distance imaginable, than any other type of race in the country. If you have ever thought of running a 5K, a 10K, maybe a marathon, there is never a better time than now. Take that jog in the gym and turn it into something more. Find a friend that will do it with you, join a running group, read a book. And the greatest part of doing it; you never have to do it again, or win the race, or even become a running junkie like me. You just have to take the journey. And I promise, it’s the journey, not the outcome that will change how you look at your own health and fitness. The lifestyle of training for a race, no matter how brief, will spread like wildfire throughout your life. You will find yourself seeking better nutrition, proper rest, and a desire for more knowledge. It is infectious. The hot NYC summer will soon break, and the perfect running weather of Autumn will emerge.
It was almost two years after that final NCAA Championship race that I found myself gliding through Central Park at a modest pace, no one to race, content on following the NYC skyline into the afternoon. It was during those long runs in early Autumn I would reflect on my life as a racer, my dedication to the sport, and my quest to become the greatest runner I was meant to be. And every once and a while, at the end of the run, as I zoomed passed Sheep Meadow, I would relive the final moments of that race.
I could no longer hear the crowd, or feel my legs. The finish line was just meters away and I surged with everything I had. And in those final moments, all the years of hard work flashed before my eyes. As I leaned and crossed the final finish line of my track and field career, I looked up and realized I had lost. I starred at the backs of the six young runners that finished before me. And as I closed my eyes, I did not see disappointment or regret, but instead I saw an incredible ten-year journey that taught me more about the capabilities of the human body and spirit, than anything else ever would. It was that journey that shaped me into the healthy, driven, and compassionate man I am today. Learning what my body is capable of remains the single greatest fitness tool I have ever received, and could ever hope to pass on to others. We don’t have to all be Olympians and it can’t always be about how much weight you loose or what size jeans you wear. Sometimes the healthiest thing in life is simply realizing what you are capable of. You learn that, and you can have anything.