Racing – Training – Running and Struggling With it All
When I started to write this post last week, it was going to be all about how much I hate to train (I don’t), then it morphed into whether I am a serious runner (I am) and moved on to what you are reading now…
- am I moving in a different direction with the focus of my training?
What in the hell are you talking about Harold?
I know that I am not a great runner by any stretch of the imagination – no big news there.
However, I am good enough to have some minor successes in races from time-to-time, which results in misplaced delusions of grandeur. In other words I start to pay too much attention to thinking that my minor successes can lead to bigger ones, if only I follow such and such plan or if I do this or that.
Unfortunately, there are just a couple of small problems with this or that:
- I am getting to be an old fart
- A lack of talent to run fast over long distances
I think most of us want to believe with a lot of hard work and doing the “right” things according to the experts, that some of those delusions of grandeur can become more than wishful thinking.
If Only I…
Over the past few months, I have stressed out a lot over my running and racing, trying to figure out what type of training will work best for me and the secret, but lofty goals that I had set for myself. I spent a lot of time, selecting a training plan, changing it around and attempting to make it so that in training I am able to go faster, harder, further and more mentally focused than I ever have been. That way when it comes time to race, I will be ready to embrace the pain and set those PRs that I so desperately thought that I wanted.
Unfortunately, this is the trap that I fall into each time I get “serious” about my running.
I start to think – “if only I…”:
- read all the experts or coaches great motivational books, blogs or magazine articles
- find the latest and greatest training plan
- run more quality miles
- do more speedwork, at race pace or faster
- do my recovery runs and easy runs at the “right” paces
- when I race that put it all on the line and push till I can’t – that run till you puke mentality
- eat clean or whatever the “best” way for runners to eat is being espoused today
- use supplements to take care of whatever my diet misses
- if I did what the better runners are doing
and all those other things that us so-called serious runners have to do to improve and become the best runner we can be.
Which is pure bullshit!
Unfortunately, what I am really struggling with is an over-active imagination and difficulty in being able to admit that what I can do as a 56 year-old runner, (with limited talent) is different from what I want it to be.
Actually it sucks that no matter how hard I train, no matter which fantastic training plan I use, no matter if I have a coach or not or who it is, no matter how great I eat, no matter how much I lift weights, do yoga, stretch, read blogs, magazines or watch videos, it will not change who I am and the limitations that I have as a runner.
Let’s be real – I have to learn to run within those very real limitations that I have, whether I like it or not.
Unfortunately, we all do.
Hell it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to push myself or not run in anymore races, because I will continue to do both. I take a lot of pride in working hard as a runner and want to do well when I race.
That is not going to change anytime soon, but at the same time my body is making me look at what is fast for me now, how much energy I have to give to running and to be quite honest I am not all that into embracing the pain of racing anymore.
In other words, I am finding that the attitude of racing until I puke or injure myself really is not the direction I want to go anymore. After all I run because I want to, not because I have to.
That Little Voice
Since I partially tore my Achilles in a race last May, I have had this little voice of discontent in the back of my mind and as I have returned to training to race over the past few months, it is getting louder and louder.
When I stopped and really listened to it – I realized that all this busting my ass to train so hard to prepare for a race, was more about my ego and me getting caught up in the idea that we all should want or need to run faster and/or further to be successful runners.
What do I really want
I want to be able to do a weekly 13-15 mile long run, one session of fast intervals (yes I am crazy – I like intervals), finish with between 40-50 miles a week and once in a while run a race at a comfortably hard pace and still be able to run the next day without feeling completely drained.
The reality is that
Thinking about what I want to do as a runner and how I need to train has brought more questions than answers.
- Do we always need to be the best runner we can possibly be or is it heresy to simply enjoy being a runner?
- What happens if/when we start questioning the “truths” that seem to be so prevalent in running today?
- What happens if we question the motives of many of those so-called experts who espouse these lines thinking about running?
- What do the “experts” say about training to just be a middle of the pack runner? Do I really care?
- Do I just go into permanent base mileage mode with a weekly speed workout thrown in?
- How much does getting older affect my attitude towards running and racing, because I know that I am slowing down – no matter how hard I train?
- Can I stop training to prepare for races and focus more on training to just run, what are the differences?
- Is running a race at 70-80% effort good enough for me to enjoy the experience, but still be able to satisfy my competitiveness?
They are inconvenient thoughts and questions for those of us that like to train, but are finding out that training to race a race is not the priority it once was.
These are my thoughts, what do you think?
Does anyone else feel this way or am I out left field by myself again?