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Thoughts on the Run: No mile is ever wasted

Andy Shearer
Andy Shearer

Squish, squish, squish, squish. I miss that sound. I miss the smell that comes from that sound. I miss the sweat that makes the smell that comes from that sound. Squish, squish, squish.

As with many sports and programs across the country and around the globe (as the flat-earthers would say), seasons have been canceled, postponed, moved, and adjusted. From bitty ball to major leagues, there’s been almost no team, league or players untouched. For those of us in athletics, it is disheartening at best and depressing at its core. 

Runners have, for the most part, been able to "find a way" to get in the workout. Some municipalities and states closed community parks and trails for a time, but runners run (like 72 laps per mile on your balcony or backyard). And if you are committed to the pursuit, you’ll find a way. 

Delawareans were lucky in that our outdoor spaces weren’t placed off limits.  We were asked to be conscientious about our outdoor time (masks, parking, spacing, etc…) but we still were able to do our time. Treadmillers had to wait a bit longer for gyms to reopen, but I know more than a few who make use of the outdoors more than usual.

By the way, this is not meant to be a political or argumentative write-up. Reality is what reality is.  And as I tell my athletes regularly, with great rights also come great responsibilities. 

But what about the squish, squish, squish, squish? Most of us have been able to continue experiencing that sound and smell, either solo or in small groups and clubs. Today’s club run was held during a rather intense former Hurricane Laura downpour. About 16 of us headed out (and nobody stayed dry). The sound running shoes make when they’re wet?  Squish, squish, squish, squish. Oh, and the smell on the way home… just heavenly. 

My friends, my runners and my compatriots have asked me, "Why are we running if there are no races, events, etc… to train for?" And the answer is simple. No mile, no matter how fast or slow or lonely it might seem, is ever wasted. Ever. Over the past five months, every imaginable event from youth running clubs to the Olympic Games has been canceled. The countless miles and minutes of training, however, will never be in vain.

As race events slowly come back to life, whether a virtual effort or in-person, that time spent training will greatly benefit you. And even if no race is ever run again, that time spent training benefits our minds, bodies and, in some cases, our souls as well. No minute, no mile, no squish squish is ever wasted.

As with all training, the top two things to remember are consistency and patience. These are the keys to improvement is almost every athletic endeavor you can imagine… even cornhole. Of course, when the bean bag makes the squish squish sound, it might be time to keep the dog out of the area of play.

I’ll get back to that post-practice squish squish sound from my runners soon. And I’ll soon be again telling them to bring an extra pair of socks and/or sliders to practice. And you’ll soon be running your favorite event again, and we’ll all soon be able to high-five and hug our favorite running partners. But you don’t have to wait for any of that to go run. So…. Go run. Squish, squish, squish, squish….

I hope to see you on the roads, tracks, and trails. 

Former standout Lock Haven University runner Andy Shearer is a member of the Middletown Athletic Club, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club and USA Track and Field.