Michael Huber manages marketing/communications for the NYS Writers Institute based at the University at Albany. He previously worked in several newsroom positions at the Albany Times Union, leaving in 2017 as the website's interactive audience manager. His baseball career ended with a short stint on Orange Motors in the West End Little League in Albany.

"One of my favorite memories of playing little league occurred during times when the field was too wet for games. In the major leagues, the grounds crew pour bags of drying agent onto the dirt. At West End Little League, the coaches poured gasoline on the running paths and lit the field on fire."

Running down a dream

By Michael Huber

“It is the brain, not the heart or lungs, that is the critical organ.”   

-- Roger Bannister

I will never run a marathon. I don't want to. Ever. The thought would never occur to me. So why did I sit through hour-long talk about running? 

I attended the Albany Book Festival on Saturday, Sept. 14, not only because it's my job, but I went to experience that serendipitous moment when I become absorbed listening to an author speak about their passion. It happens over and over again with these Writers Institute events.

Matthew Futterman is deputy sports editor at the New York Times. It must be a grueling job. I remember working at the Times Union and seeing our sports reporters and editors shuffling into the office in the early evening and staying until well past midnight. Since college and professional sports play their games on weekends, that's when sports editors work.

How Futterman found time to write Running to the Edge is beyond me.

During Matthew's talk at the book festival, he shared stories of his lifelong love of running. He talked about his book, the story of how Bob Larsen became one of America's greatest running coaches. He talked about motivation and how certain athletes, professional and amateur, possess a magical ability to persevere through grueling training sessions in order to compete at the highest level. 

In Running to the Edge, Futterman quotes Larsen, “When you think you are running hard, run harder. Try to keep running harder for longer than you think you can, bringing your body and your mind closer to the edge, that moment when the ritual becomes the revelation.”

What if I apply that lesson to work. Or practicing guitar. Or being a good dad.  “When you think you are working hard, work harder. Try to keep working harder for longer than you think you can, bringing your body and your mind closer to the edge, that moment when the ritual becomes the revelation.” 

Matthew Futterman at the Albany Book Festival on Sept. 14, 2019. The image on the screen shows him at the finish of the cold and rainy Boston Marathon in 2018. 

Futterman's talk, and his book, transcends the sport of running, and that's when the magic happens at these events.  

I may not -- correction, I will definitely not -- pound out 130 miles a week during my Olympic marathon training, but the lessons learned from my hour with Matthew Futterman carry through to what I'd say are even more glorious goals. 

Runners, slackers and everyone in between, we can all take to heart the advice of Bob Larsen: “Making every mile and every minute count as much as it can … Because if you do that up high [at altitude], where it is hardest, then, when you come off the mountain, you feel the power and you begin to imagine doing everything that once felt like a dream.”

Trolley c/o NYS Writers Institute

Science Library 320

University at Albany

Albany NY 12222   

nyswritersinstitute.org 

Trolley web design: Michael Huber

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