Linkin Park released One More Light, their seventh studio album, on May 19, 2017. Jon Blistein of Rolling Stone describes the first single, “Heavy,” as a “sparse but nimble pop groove of swirling synths and rapt percussion.” Pop groove. As a fan of Linkin Park since Hybrid Theory (2000), the hard rock band’s highly acclaimed debut album, I’m not sure what to make of this description by Blistein. I do remember the no-nonsense rock that catapulted them into success. Speaking of success, I recently discovered that Mike Shinoda, one of the vocalists for Linkin Park, fronted a side band for a season. What’s more, one of the major hits from the band, Fort Minor, unequivocally emphasizes rock more and pop less. The song? “Remember the Name.”
The recurring chorus in “Remember the Name” appears to highlight what’s required to achieve success as an aspiring musician, though I believe the percentage totals – which unsurprisingly add up to 100 – carry over into improved running. Therefore, with an inspiring preface before the breakdown of these percentages, consider this word from the renowned novelist Joyce Carol Oates. “Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be.” To the numbers then.
10% luck. Does luck contribute to better runs? I wrote an article on March 12th about how superstitions influence running. Be it socks, a shirt, or even the way shoe laces are tied, runners will continually return to a specific practice – no matter how strange or unusual – that increases the likelihood of a successful run (or race). Avid runner and blogger Jessica D’Avanza has some thoughts on whether luck provides any impact. “Being a successful runner and person is about good choices. Becoming a better runner comes from consistency, hard work and dedication. We don’t wish for it, we work for it. We don’t roll the dice, we prepare.”
20% skill. Skill seems self-explanatory at first glance, but there are a few thoughts that can be extrapolated from this attribute. Most articles today concerned with skill point to technique, i.e. form. The Chi Running website lists, among others, flexibility, posture, cadence, coordination, and breathing as the factors that influence whether running will progress or regress.
15% concentrated power of will. What is will? Call it determination, a dogged drive to achieve that next goal. In a March 2015 Life Hacker article, author Patrick Allan cites a quote by Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski on winning by way of preparing. “Having the will to prepare is as important as the will to win.” Like basketball, running is underscored by preparation.
Preparation springs from practice. In other words, runners become better runners by running. Hills, trails, fartleks, mile repeats, and time on the local track provide an added diversity of experience – and the corresponding confidence that results from recurring work. As Ben Franklin famously put it, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
5% pleasure. I suspect that most runners would summarize their running by the final component, which will be revealed momentarily. Until then, remember that running should elicit some sense of pleasure. I always wonder how running becomes a joy for people. For many, it began as an exercise for the sake of health but somewhere along the way it evolved into sheer fun. Energetic passion. In the words of Katherine Dreyer for Chi Running, “Listening to what your body needs, making good technique a priority, and not being too hard on yourself will keep running from feeling like a chore. Approach running as an activity that has the potential to create joy for you, and it will.”
50% pain. I’ve always been struck by a remark about the intensity of running by Steve Prefontaine, the legendary star at the University of Oregon. “The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die.” Nick Stockton, a columnist for Wired magazine, spoke with coach Steve Magness about the relationship between pains and thresholds. In the words of Magness, “Pain is feedback for your brain to let you know how hard you’re working.”
Pain is felt in the legs and in the lungs, in the side and in the soles. It’s a wonder that 50% pain doesn’t feel like 100% when all of the body hurts in some way. But the pain does subside, and the breakthroughs come in time.
Luck, skill, will, pleasure, and pain are the ingredients to better running. That’s according to Fort Minor, anyway. The percentages will change from run to run too, but the total still equals 100 – unless you’re running at 105% or 110% effort. You might not even remember your own name after a run like that.