There are quite a few parallels between learning how to become a professional musician and becoming a better runner. Growing up, I had great mentors, practiced for up to ten hours per day, and performed in public whenever I could. I became a band teacher out of necessity and eventually became something of a mentor for a few young musicians myself. The main thing I learned through teaching was to try to draw out the best qualities in every musician I was in contact with. It didn't always work out. Sometimes they weren't ready to admit that they had something to learn. Sometimes it was my fault; I would try to push someone in a direction that was incomprehensible to them. One thing I know now is that "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." There has to be a willingness to learn before learning can happen.
I have applied some of these lessons to my running. I ask questions, assuming that almost everyone knows more than me! It can be surprising who your teachers can be. Most of all, I like to race! This is like having a gig for a musician. Everything has to fall into place or else you can easily play the part of the fool. I really dig the 15K. Three groups of five. Not too long, not too short, just perfect. I love that part of the race when everything becomes silent and it's easy to drift off into dreamland. Luckily a horse whinnied and woke me up as if to say "Hey Dude, it's time to join the human race!" I looked at my watch. What? 4:30 per K. Yikes, it's time to step it up. So I stepped it up and reached my goal of racing at about 4:15 or better per K. At the end of the race, Nick Walker said, "Good work." Danny Keys gave me some advice for training for the half marathon. I live for those moments and I'm reminded about the power of a little kindness.