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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

The Race Day Morning Run

When he was the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, Brett Brown would go for a four-to-five mile run before every game.

"I feel worthless if I don't," Brown said, "I do it every game."

Brown went to extreme lengths to keep up with his routine, once sighted wearing socks over his hands to keep warm during a particularly cool day. He even did a phone interview on Jim Rome's radio show while on the run.

Brown is not alone.

New Head Coach of the New York Jets Robert Saleh also has a physically taxing gameday routine. He runs the stadium stairs about three hours before kickoff.

For Saleh, it's about "calming myself down before the game" and "allowing myself to go through the process of the game."

While Brown and Saleh provide examples of other coaches getting in a pregame sweat, perhaps no sport has more coaches putting in miles the day of a competition than cross country.

I thought about this as I followed suit and got my five in this morning.* Perhaps for us, getting a run in before our athletes do is more than just a space to blow off some nervous energy. It's an act of solidarity, providing a small dose of the physical discomfort our teams will endure in the hours that follow.

For me, it's a space to set a game plan for myself. What does the team need from me? What does each athlete need from me? Are there logistical things to take care of? Where should I position myself on the course? How do I respond if we run well? How do I respond if we don't?

Having the run to go through everything gives me confidence that I'm ready for the day. As a result, pounding the pavement is a vital piece of race day for me. Like Brett Brown, "I feel worthless if I don't."

*Kudos to the Upper Las Vegas Wash Trail. It wins my award for best place to get in a 5 AM run. It's a paved bike path along an irrigation canal, but true to its moniker as the City of Lights, there are street lamps every 30 meters or so, illuminating the way. There was also an overpass to climb that, at its apex, provided a panoramic view of the Las Vegas strip.

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