Alberto Salazar

by Colin from Folsom

Alberto Salazar I don't know what a hero is. After hearing a week's worth of speeches, I still don't have a complete comprehension of the word nor do I completely understand the type of person a hero is. I think a hero is someone you look up to. I think a hero is someone who teaches you something that affects your day-to-day life. Someone who represents more than whom they are. Someone who represents an idea no matter the obstacles in their way. For me, Alberto Salazar is that person.

It was the summer going into my sophomore year. I stood in front of the small shelf of books at Barnes and Noble dedicated to endurance sports. My eyes drifted from book to book. I was hoping to find the latest book on the scientific studies and theories in training a distance runner such as myself. As I thumbed through the usual suspects I came across a book with a runner on the cover. The man appeared to be going through a tremendous amount of pain. After I read the synopsis on the back I slid the other book I held back on the shelf.

Alberto Salazar's biography, 14 Minutes, taught me about the true world of professional distance running and the type of dedication it takes to be the best in the world. Salazar attended the University of Oregon where he won the 1978 NCAA Cross Country Championships, but it was not until he turned pro that he began a training regimen unlike any other in the world. After he graduated from Oregon, Salazar no longer had to heed to coaches' opinions. Throughout his entire running career, Salazar had been told to trust the training. Don't push the pace. Don't run extra miles. Take time off when you get injured. And always listen to how your body feels.

When Salazar turned professional, he didn't have a coach. He trained according to how much he felt he could handle. As the Oregon track runners always said, Salazar would take one of Dellinger's workouts and double it. Salazar immediately turned to the marathon following his graduation, which was probably the only race he could succeed at the professional level.

Salazar went on to win three consecutive New York Marathons and set the world record in the 1982 marathon. He never won a medal in the Olympics and after his famous Duel in the Sun in the Boston Marathon he faded away to irrelevancy. What I admired most about Salazar was his work ethic. On one particular occasion Salazar nearly ran himself to death as he crossed the finish line, suffering from heat stroke. His rites were read to him prematurely but he survived. On another occasion Salazar went an entire marathon race without so much as a sip of water and had to be carried off the course after his winning sprint finish. Salazar's heroic feats did not only happen in races. Throughout his career, Salazar trained relentlessly. He logged over 120 miles a week along with swimming and weight training. But what was most impressive about his training was his ability to run through injuries. In distance running, athletes acquire injuries through overuse. Salazar did this on a regular basis. He had always been told to trust the training. Listen to his body. Don't push the paces given to you by the coach. And take time to heal when you get injured. After Salazar graduated from Oregon he was finally free from the watchful eyes of his coaches. Now he could train as much as he believed his body could handle. Instead of taking time off from training, Salazar embraced the injuries. He went full throttle as if they did not exist. Salazar once said, "To be a great distance runner and probably to be a top athlete in any sport, it's got to be an obsession to you. It's got to be probably the most important thing in the world to you to the point where there just are no excuses, there are no reasons to not win or to not do your best." Salazar's work ethic and never stop fighting mentality are what I admire most about him. Salazar was never the most talented athlete, but he was the toughest. In the end that is what got him the world record. In the end that is what made him a success.

Page created on 3/29/2016 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 9/24/2018 4:29:57 PM

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