Take the Focus off Running

I was mad about the weather and fading so hard after the first mile last week, so I picked out another 5k for this weekend to get my revenge on the distance and chase a PR that I found acceptable. I didn’t feel very excited about it and definitely knew in the back of my head that I needed a weekend off from racing, but I let emotion make the choice and today’s race absolutely sucked. I’ve realized that missing a time goal in a race is a bit like missing a workout; you can’t cram the miles from a missed workout back in during the week and you can’t just reschedule a new race to make up for a crappy one. I didn’t start too hard today and felt more controlled a little further in than I lasted a week ago, but at almost 90 degrees and humid, there was NO chance I could have PRed. As it was, I did manage to run the 5k distance in 16:40ish according to Garmin data, certainly a time I should be proud of given the weather. After off and on fuming about the race and the weather and many other things, it finally got through my head that I should have just run my planned sweat-fest of a long run and saved the hard work for training this week and the race next Sunday. I felt guilty about getting so mad about it and I felt guilty about spending the money on so much racing and subsequent expenses this fall and just generally miserable. I’ve really missed the Sunday morning services at church, since I’ve been racing this fall and today would have been a great chance to go. I did squeeze in a nice lunch with my room-mate and had a much better second workout on the Charles in Boston before going to the evening service of church tonight. Of course, said enjoyable run and service were after I did realize why I was actually so frustrated today. I needed a weekend off and I ignored the signs and raced anyway, but a valuable lesson was learned without too catastrophic a result, other than my own pride and emotions getting the best of me.

I posted this quote from Ben True on facebook the other day and than promptly forgot the relevance of it in my own training. “The whole baseball analogy, you don’t want to hit home runs, you just want to get on base. And so the whole point of the workouts is just to get on base and you don’t have to hit them out of the park, you just wanna get B grades on the homework. And then once or twice a month you wanna aim for that A+ to sharpen you up and get you ready for the race.” -Ben True

I think this is excellent advice for any runner, but especially for those who struggle with feeling like one or two bad workouts mean that a goal is out of reach then. Just focus on putting the work in and don’t worry about hitting the workout perfectly, think about those workouts where it all did click and don’t dwell on the ones where you felt off. You wanna save “going to the well” for the race anyway, and not use it up in training. And here I was today, essentially trying to go to the well and trying to hit a 100% workout in training. Today was not a peak race, 5k has never been my goal distance and my next XC race is a week away, which has been my focus all along. Note to self, keep it simple stupid and don’t over train or over race! I’ve had a couple real A+ workouts as of late and I’ve had some good race results too. I need to keep my focus on realistic short term goals and remember that there is much more to life than getting better at running. I still have my long term dreams, but to keep them exciting I need to manage my time and emotions better while working towards them. Running has taught me so many great lessons over the past few years, but today it taught me that I need time apart from it too.

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