Cross Country |
Sept. 27, 2011
By Mario Cannon
Oliver Book of the University of Cincinnati's cross country and track and field teams is a great representation of an athlete who has a passion for what he does, which is run. It's basically second nature and apart of whom he's become. Training isn't really an obligation, if anything its natural part of his everyday life. A drive is deeply rooted within him that goes beyond running for sport. No doubt he wants to improve as an athlete, but he runs because he loves to.
The 2010 USA World Champion Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski best describes the type of passion Book has for running.
"When you are passionate, you always have your destination in sight and you are not distracted by obstacles," Coach Krzyzewski once said. "Because you love what you are pursuing, things like rejection and setbacks will not hinder you in your pursuit. You believe that nothing can stop you!"
Book's work ethic and focus was acquired back in his hometown of Starlight, Indiana. Starlight is a rural area that Book considers a village filled with many of his relatives. Farming was a way of life for him growing up along with his five brothers. He began working at the age of eight on his families dairy and produce farm, driving tractors.
Primarily as a kid he played basketball, so he didn't begin to run until the 9th grade when he joined his high school track and field team. Later he joined the cross country team with the insistence of his coach. That team and coach have both left a lasting impact on his life.
His high school coach believed in the concept, "If you run everyday you'll eventually get better." Book even told a story about meeting a man his 12th grade year of high school that basically lived his life around that same concept.
"We went to cross country camp in high school and there was this guy there that had run 11 years consecutively," Book said astonished. "I thought that was pretty amazing."
That experience basically solidified Book's coach's concept.
Book went on to adopt it himself and implicate it in his everyday life. He has his own streak of 1415 days (more than 3 years) consecutively running. Running for him is therapeutic and liberating more than anything because it relaxes his mind and allows him to think clearly. He did explain that moments like that mainly are when he's not running competitively. Instead, when he's in competition he's keeping himself focused and remembering quotes like "It ain't no thang", something his former teammate David Barry used to say to keep everyone running undeterred.
"I run all the time and haven't missed a day in 1415 days," Book said. "I run at least a mile every day, even on my off days. That's something that keeps my streak alive. It wasn't until I came to college that I realized people take off days from running all the time. My high school coach emphasized continuous days."
Many people believe in doing what works best for them and continuous running sounds like what's working for book. He wanted to place at least in the top 10 at every meet, and he most certainly has so far. The first three meets of this season he has placed: second, second and fifth. His next race is the All-Ohio Championship on Friday September 30th. Book hopes much will be accomplished at this meet because he hopes to keep his team's win streak this season alive because the men's cross country team as a unit hasn't lost (3-0) a meet thus far.
There's no question he expects to do well at this meet. He believes in doing the best he can, and his best this season has placed him high in each meets rankings that he's ran in. Then again, you shouldn't expect anything less than a person's best that is doing what they love.
"I'm going to just run until I can't run anymore," Book said dignifiedly. "I plan on dying running."