Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chugging out the mileage isn't the answer (at least for me)

Isn't the relationship between running and emotions amazing?  I realized as I increased my mileage from 40-45 mpw to 60-65 mpw my emotional state changed for the worse.  Although my body was able to absorb the mileage increase (which is a big positive), running started to become a chore and it wasn't nearly as fun.  It's a reminder how we are all wired differently and you have to find your personal zone and identify what makes it fun b/c if it's fun, then everything else takes care of itself.

I think any of us can get caught up in the sheer numbers, that is, the weekly and monthly mileage number which shouldn't be focus.  Just hitting "a number" may result in destroying the love and fun of running.  It's why I seldom run with a watch (other than my race pace runs which only occur once every 7-10 days).  Data can be very useful but it can also be very harmful.

I've gone back and forth in my training over the years but it's pretty clear that I'm a 5k/10k runner and that's what I am.  While I have run, and can run, half marathons and full marathons (even one 50k to my credit), it just doesn't map to my emotional make-up and I'm coming to terms with that.  In a runner's world where many define running by the longer distances, I realize that's about money and popularity.  As one race director told me, "the 5k, 5 mile and 10 mile races are absolutely wonderful but they take the same amount of work to setup and maintain as the half or full marathon in many respects and the money is in the longer distances as that's why folks want to run."

I'd further state that many marathon runners are not equipped to run the marathon because they haven't become efficient runners yet and if they learned how to master the 5k, then 10k, then half, they would do much better but that's not our society.  We think "big" and want immediate satisfaction and this may also correlate to the very high yearly injury rate of runners.  Many folks know my story.  After many years of solid running, I came across an elite runner who ran along side me and we started talking and, long story short, he said if I wanted to become a good runner, I needed to learn how to "run one block efficiently, then 2 blocks, then 1 mile, then 2 miles, etc."  Talk about a blow to my ego but I so appreciated the honestly as I marveled at how smooth a runner he was and he reminded me he had been running "shorter" distances as a kid (to school and back) and over time became efficient enough to tackle longer distances.  He went on to recommend that I spend 1 full year "only" running 5k's which I did and that was the beginning of me become not yet a runner, but a pretty efficient and talented runner (from a recreational perspective :) of course).  Then I started to lower by 5k time to sub 20:00, sub 19:00, and sub 18:00.

So what's the point of this post?  Great question as I jumped all over the place.  You decide if there's any value in what I've said :)



  1. In the first Meso Cycle of my training program, coach wrote this:

    "Training should be a shelter where you're escaping life's complexities, not an extension of life's constraints."

  2. I like it. Great statement and way to look at it.



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