A high school coach was looking forward to track season. As he assembled his class of young men to compete for the 100 yard dash, he had several boys line up for the start of the race. One boy seemed a bit shorter than the rest of the group, but the mismatch in size did not have much bearing on the exercise. The coach prepared his stopwatch, raised his hand and called out the sequence to start the race, blowing his whistle to signal the launch.
To the coach’s surprise, the first one across the finish line was the boy he had noted to be the shortest one in the line. As the coach looked at his stopwatch, he did a double-take. The time his watch showed for the race was faster than the school record for the varsity members of his track team, by a significant margin. Thinking he must have somehow delayed the start of his watch, or stopped it too early, the coach made a mental note to verify the results later, after the boys had a few minutes to rest up from their race. Later on, the coach lined up another group of boys which included the one who had registered such speed on the first round. As he started this race, the coach was careful to be sure the stopwatch was started and stopped precisely for the interval of the race. On this round, the short boy again registered the fastest time, and even slightly improved the previous mark.
At the end of the class, the coach took the boy away from the rest of the class and spoke to him about the possibility of trying out for the track team after school. The boy agreed to show up for the practice. When the time came to begin the team warm-ups, the coach instructed the boys to take a lap around the track. As the group circled the track, the short boy fell far behind the rest of the pack and was the last one to complete his lap. He seemed extremely winded from his run.
“Are you all right?” Asked the coach.
“Yeah,” replied the boy, “I just need to catch my breath. If it’s all the same to you, Coach, I’d rather do my running without having to go through this warm up stuff. , But that’s about all I can do. ”
The coach saw an immediate problem with this technique. Without the ability to run more than 100 yards and participate in warming up exercises, the coach felt he could not use the boy on his team for fear that he might be injured in a meet. Reluctantly, he decided to release the boy from the squad. He told the boy the reason for his decision, which did not appear to cause the young man any disappointment. Before the boy left the field, the coach could not resist satisfying his curiosity about the kid’s exceptional ability for short distance running without any kind of preparation.
“I’m curious about your talent, son. If you never warm up for a race, and you have never participated in a track meet, how did you develop such an exceptional speed in short distance running? ‘
The boy did not hesitate in his reply, “I do better when someone is chasing me. I tease my brothers a lot, so I got pretty quick at running away from them. If they ever kept after me, they would ever catch me and Probably beat the crap out of me, but they never do. When I race, I just imagine they’re after me, and that is why I win. ” It would be several more years before we figured out the secret to how to catch up with my brother.