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Squirrel totem

Back in the day when I was a teenage middle distance runner, I had regular performance testing by our federation, including a VO2max test (running for as long as possible at 16 km/h on a 3% incline). From one year to the next, I had only a minor improvement in my VO2max which prompted the lead scientist to say:’ The squirrel works very hard to feed itself’ (and reaps very little benefit because it doesn’t find most of its hidden food). Essentially, he dismissed my training and my talent. It kind of stuck with me in a motivational way because I got very angry about his careless remark. That year, I improved my PBs in all distances from 100m to 5k. Most significantly, I dropped my 800m PB from 2.09 min to a low 2.06, my 3k time from a meagre 10.50 min to 10.26 (still meagre) and my 5k time to 18.30 min from just under 20 min. Squirrel! Yeah, right. It has stuck to this day. It reminds me to never doubt my talent, that hard, persistent training is a better predictor than marginal increases in performance tests, and that arses have a place in this world, if only to remind you of that.

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