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  • Keith Wallace

The Laggard Lesson

From time to time I like to reflect on my life... where I have been, what I have done, where am I going etc. This particular time I realized how many of my memorable life experiences that impacted my life and made me who I am today can be tied to running. With that, I decided to embark on a new project to share those experiences. Periodically, I am going to post such examples and discuss the impact it had on my life.

Myself running in high school on Rensselaer High School's course
Myself in high school running Rensselaer High School's course

The date is Fall 1996. I am in my junior year in high school and running cross country. The coach is legendary Coach Walt Prochno. Legendary for a number of things, but because you either hated him or loved him. Nothing in between. The workout for the day was to run the back ten. Ten miles on the county roads through Wheatfield, Indiana. I leisurely ran the ten miles taking my sweet time. As I came running back into the school I noticed no one was around. So I figured the team was in the weight room. Upon entering the weight room, the whole team was inside and Coach gave me a glaring eye stare. He berated me for my performance or rather lack of and ultimately kicked me out of the weight room saying I didn’t deserve to be with the team. The door was slammed behind me as I walked away. Then the door reopened and a 2.5lbs weight was thrown at me with the words, “lift this you baby.” I didn’t recall what the guidance on how to run the ten miles was, but I didn’t live up to it. That was Coach. He was tough, disciplined, and held a high standard. Yet, he was fair and consistent. I carry that moment in the back of my mind.

Every now and then we need someone to set us straight. Someone that can objectively tell us we are not meeting expectations. Someone to hold us accountable to become the better version of our self. That is a role of a coach and more broadly a role of a parent. And as a parent I take this lesson of accountability in raising my son.


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