Thursday, November 18, 2010

Now what?

I am five days removed from my first marathon.  I still marvel at the notion of completing this goal.  However am itching for something more.  I feel like the mountain climber who had just summited to only survey the horizon for the peak.  This is not to say that I have pushed aside the accomplishment, or forgotten anything about the ordeal I endured.  As I retreated down "the mountain" I have replayed the training cycle and the race itself for mistakes made and lessons learned.  These lessons may not apply to everyone.  These lessons work for me.

A high octane life needs high octane fuel.  

Are you a garbage disposal or do you choose what you eat for maximal metabolic efficiency?

I dropped soda and (most) junk food.  Fast food rarely touches my lips.  Beer is an occasional treat, not a daily staple.  Once I committed to running twenty-six point two I knew things had to change.  For too long I was overweight and slow and sad.  If I am to train for a marathon I need to train my diet, I needed to get control of urges and impulses.  I knew that to run farther and faster I had to run better.  For me that also meant eating better.

Denial and sacrifice are not bad things if I enjoy the results.  

You can't always get what you want.  But sometimes you find that you get what you need (where did that come from?).

Someone once said to eat, drink and be merry for we are not promised tomorrow.  I say live like tomorrow is guaranteed, so that you may make tomorrow better than today.  I am happy to have replaced the hangover with muscle fatigue.  It seems a worthy reward for the person I want to be.

If you are afraid of losing the enjoyment in life, sacrificing the foods and drinks that make life fun, review what you do eat.  What on that list aids your training?  What on the list makes you better at whatever you do?  And what holds you back?  Then decide if being "held back" is worth refusing to change your habits.  Like I said some time before, I want farther and faster.

Respect the distance.  

Any distance is difficult when you add the element of racing.  Six point two miles through a park is pretty easy.  No pressure.  But add a race bib and a start/finish line suddenly nerves creep in.  You have to prepare physically and mentally.  Unfortunately most people overlook the mental aspect of race training.

Two different friends from dailymile in the wake of my marathon disappointment said to "respect the distance".  Truer words were never spoken.  Twenty-six point two miles is no joke.  Nor is it a walk in the park.  Some people are natural runners and other people struggle with running.  But all runners have to cover the same distance.  With each mile lies a chance for failure.  To avoid failure is to stay focused on the task and reach the finish line while reaching as many goals as possible along the way.

Respect the training.  

If you don't train for it you can't race for it.  Avoid hills while training and you will lose your "race" on the hills.  If you don't train for speed you can't pull it out when you need the kick.

In response to "respect the distance" I said that it is more important for me to respect the training.  This is not to belittle the previous statement.  And there was a misunderstanding about that as well.  But if a runner does not take training seriously the runner's goals will remain out of reach.

Some runners wing it through a cycle.  Others build meticulous plans that must be followed at every step to ensure optimal physical and mental preparation.  I learned that training is serious business, especially with long distance running.  Run fast.  Run slow.  Run short.  Run long.  But run according to plan and at the right times.  Peak too soon and race day will be a failure.  "Try something different" on race day and you will suffer.

Now that Chickamauga is done and I have turned my attention to Myrtle Beach in February I am setting my plan in motion.  Base.  Tempo.  Intervals.  Hills (yes, I count highway overpasses as hills).  And the dreaded Recovery.  Every part has a role to play.  And every training day I shall work on some aspect of my program.    What I learned on Saturday is that there is never an "easy" run.  Good runs, yes.  Great runs, certainly.  And just maybe, if I stay smart and focused, I can have that great run.

I know that my running will not change the world.  I know that my running has not even changed me all that much.  What running has done is to expose aspects of me that I did not know existed.  It has opened up parts of me that even my wife and parents did not know were present in my personality.  Running shows what I am capable of when I let go of fear and self-doubt and worry of failure.  This is personal and subjective.  All my thoughts are directed toward making me a better "whatever".  Decide what your better "whatever" should be and get after it.  No one can do it for you.  Good luck.


  1. Nicely put. Good luck on your next endeavor! What ever you do, you will be successful because it's your mindset, it's who you are.

  2. Stones...The Rolling Stones...that's where that came from..

  3. Interestingly enough, Mick used to run backwards saying it help tone his ass.

  4. Excellent commentary on your race reflections! Life like running is never easy. But how you handle yourself in the wake of those ups and downs defines your character.

  5. I won't even get into my diet. It's horrible and I feel horrible about it. But I wholeheartedly agree with the respect the distance part. When I somehow pulled a 50k out, I didn't respect the distance at all. I figured I could wing it and walk it as much as I needed to and be just fine. I wasn't and I suffered for it and learned a lot from it.