v3, readv3, jim alred

One of my collegiate coaches pointed out to me and my teammates that he loved watching the grueling workouts, because it showed him a lot about each of us.  

He noted it was easy to look good in the easier workouts or the ones that catered to our skill levels, but the grueling ones that we had to slog and fight and persevere to get through, not only showed more about our character but also made us better athletes. 

I remember the dread coursing through my body before those workouts started. Walk-ons at major colleges needed to show out at every workout, because we could be asked to walk off the team at any time.

As a team, the workouts helped us bond. The course our coach laid out for us had us traversing hills over and over again in a brutal mile to mile-and-a-half-long circuit. We passed teammates multiple times and each time we offered encouragement. 

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I remember the sense of pride and accomplishment when those workouts ended. I also remember the pure exhaustion, my body drained wondering at times how I had made it through. I had done it. I had survived, and I had improved.

My former coach’s words ring as true today as they did close to three decades ago. We’re all experiencing that tough, seemingly never ending workout right now. It’s not easy, and we’re not sure when it’s going to end. When it does end, we’re not sure if everything will go back to normal or what that new normal might look like.

I remember one workout when I was hurting bad on a final hill. Thoughts of stepping off or just turning around floated through my head.

“You got this. You look great.”

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The words came from a fellow runner, who would earn multiple all conference and even All American awards. You have no idea how much those six words helped or meant. My teammate didn’t have to say them. Remember I was a walk-on, he was a scholarship runner. But they helped me through.

During the past few weeks, I’ve thought back to those workouts more than I have since I graduated college. Each and every one of us is going through something far more grueling and devastating than what I did on the dirty, hilly roads of Auburn, Alabama.

But just like those workouts, if we encourage each other and fight and do what we can, we will get through. So to everyone out there I repeat those same words, “you’ve got this. You look great.”

An injury while running at Auburn ended Jim Alred’s long-shot hopes of possibly competing in the Olympics, so he turned to writing and has been crafting award-winning stories across multiple mediums ever since. Along the way he’s been chased by a grizzly bear, worked as Goofy at Walt Disney World, been nominated for two Emmys, interviewed celebrities like Tiger Woods, Bo Jackson, Bill Clinton, coaches his daughters in cross country and soccer and can often be found running with his wife, Tara, around Rome.