Two words. Distance. Running. These words are typically met with eye rolls and swearing under peoples breath. I sat with Thomas Little, who is now a Marine, to discuss the days of track seasons that took up a majority of our years in high school.
Joseph Fox: Tom, do you still actively participate in any running events in your free time? It seemed to me that a lot of people on our team have all kept up running even after high school just to stay in shape somewhat.
Thomas Little: I definitely still keep up with running, when I joined the Marines I knew that running would be taking up a lot of time during basic training. But even outside of that i have participated in several half marathons while stationed here in San Diego. The most recent one i competed in was with my father when he came to visit.
JF: I still actively run too, however i have started focusing on shorter distances instead of long distance runs, I would say that i am in better shape now than I was in high school even though I ran more in high school. I feel like you would probably still mainly focus on long distance runs though.”
TL: Distance running really helps drive up endurance and stamina, so although i run all the time, making sure that my endurance is up is incredibly important especially nowadays being in the Marines.
JF: Well, even going back to high school you happened to be one of the people that got me involved with the track team, why did you take a chance and keep asking me to be on the team?
TL: There were a few reasons why I felt that you would be a good runner, you are athletic and have played other sports before, and you are taller than me so I assumed that you had a longer stride and plus it was nice having another friend on the team to make things more enjoyable and less strenuous.
JF: I loved running in high school, and I only felt that with each season I got better, to me the first year was the toughest season for me, do you remember how you felt when you started running your first season?
TL: My first year running was freshman year of high school and it was my toughest year too. I think what was most difficult about it was that i was competing against a lot of people who were way more experienced than me. So I feel that we were in the same boat with our first year experiences.
JF: I think that’s a good things though, being up against people that are better than you makes you want to achieve the same status of those around you and even one up them. Were any of the guys helpful in giving any advice to you?
TL: All of them were very helpful in giving advice to me. They gave me tips on how to train more effectively and habits to be healthier.
JF: I remember my first season being so tough because although the people were very helpful, I think distance running has a large mental aspect to it. What would you have to say about that?
TL: It is very mental, if your mind keeps checking out things are going to be a lot more difficult. One of the tips people kept giving me was trying to strengthen confidence so the mental aspect does not overcome the physical portion.
JF: Early on my first season, we had well over 200 people on the track team for the first few meetings and practices, and by the end of the season we had 73 people on the team due to people quitting and getting cut. Do you think the mental portion had any part in that?
TL: Absolutely. I think people often think track is easy because its primarily running. However once they realize how much running is required they leave because its not as easy as they thought.
JF: That’s a tip people gave me my first season, they all told me the coaches purposely made the first several practices extremely difficult in order to weed out the people that did not want to be there, and it was very effective. Do you think this translates into joining the Marines too?
TL: Yeah for sure, i knew it wasn’t going to be easy and they make boot camp hard for a reason. I looked for certain similarities between the two while I was at boot camp.
JF: I think another reason coaches made practices so hard was to get us prepared for track meets, too. Some races were harder than others but the practices were way more brutal. I would say that was an effective strategy. What are your thoughts on it?
TL: No doubt, once you get to the race its quicker than the practices so they had a great way of building us up for the races.
JF: Okay last question, what would you tell yourself if you had the chance to say something to freshman year you?
TL: I would tell him to push himself even more, I was happy with my track seasons but I feel that with all the knowledge I know now i could provide useful information to him.