You’ve lost that burned out feelin’, oooh that burned out feelin’
"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run."
I have always looked to wiser and more experienced people for guidance. When it came to training plans for running why would I not look to the experts to see what they recommend? These strategies helped them become successful and proved to work for them, so, why shouldn't they help me reach similar success? I know a lot of people who can print off a training plan and it works for them; then the next race they are starting all over with the same or similar plan. I am finally figuring out why this has not worked for me. The training is a means to an end which is the race itself and not a long term plan.
I decided that I would attempt to get in at least a mile (in addition to increasing my long runs) for every day in October. A week and a half into this I had a migraine that lasted over 24 hours and I was frustrated that although my heart and legs were ready I just could not do it. After some encouragement from my wife I got up early the next day and went for a run and after work did a second to make up for the one I missed. This has not only developed a habit of lacing up every day but it has given me time to figure out what I have been doing wrong.
The first item I decided I would work on is to use the shorter runs to push my pace a bit. The second item is to slow down on my longer runs. During yesterday's 10-miler I realized that almost every long run and half marathon I have done I started too fast and flamed out, causing me to struggle to finish. Light Bulb Moment! I am not fast and need to focus on consistency and distance. What I had been doing is trying not to use my watch or Garmin and just run. This is what I want to do but I need to learn to pace myself first, so recently I have worn it strictly for the purpose of tracking distance and adjusting my pace. The next piece to the puzzle is that most times when I have tried to increase distance I have increased mid-week mileage as well, not allowing enough recovery time or lighter days in between long runs.
I have had an epiphany since the first of the month and it is this: for me, running more short runs during the week allows me to increase the distance and have something in the tank for my long runs. Also, the faster, shorter runs seem to be loosening my hips up a little. I am experiencing less pain and soreness while recovering much faster. As I had hoped going into this, I am slowly making better decisions on the nutrition front and slowly but surely I am feeling like a runner again. In the past I have tried the 'fake it ‘til you make it' strategy and it almost worked until the real test came and I knew deep down I was not there yet.
This October challenge has really opened my eyes and allowed me to move my focus in a new direction and allow the answers to surface before my eyes. My head is clearer during runs and I do not feel the same pressure as before. I also got back to a little over a 20 mile week after today’s run and I feel good. Don’t get me wrong, I am tired. The best way I can explain it is that I am tired but no longer feel burned out and that is a great feeling. The best part is that I have returned to running for the sake of running and not to prove anything to myself or anyone else and my Cool Impossible is back in focus.
In Summary I would say that plans and advice are great, but in the long run they must work for you. Don’t be afraid to tweak them to better suit your needs and ultimately your goals. In addition I am always looking for inspiration through books and other items. I am currently reading Ben on Foot: 12 months from non-runner to ultra-runner, which is a new book written by Ben Brewer. It is not a how-to book; it is simply an enjoyable and inspiring story of transition. I am happy to have added this book to my ever growing library.