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Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: social

Renewing Your Love for the Run

“Keep your love for running as your highest priority,
regardless of your running goals.”
— P. Mark Taylor

I am tired.  Since the end of 2009, I have been training.  I trained for marathons.  I trained for Ironmans.  For just over 8 years, I have raced 800 meter races, mile races, 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, 10-milers, half marathons, marathons, half-Ironmans, Ironmans…

…and now…  .. I am tired.

Yes, I have taken breaks.  Sometimes I have gone a week without running.  Sometimes I have gone a month without any serious training.  The breaks were scheduled for my health and for my long-term success.  I have planned so carefully, done the calculations countless times, and my breaks were very much designed to lower my cortisol levels and give my body a chance to recover so I could go hard again safely.

…even so… ..I am tired.

I am the only one putting pressure on myself.  I want so badly to succeed.  I am fifty and I hear the clock ticking.  It haunts me like the crocodile chasing Captain Hook.  Time is ticking loudly.  It taunts me:

  • “You will never reach your goals!”
  • “You are too old to make it to the next level.”

The constant ticking of the clock is not the only taunting I hear.  I hear the same old negative thoughts that everyone hears:

  • “You just don’t have it.”
  • “You must not want it bad enough.”
  • “You are doing it wrong; no wonder you always fall short of your goals.”

The worst part of the taunting is that it has my own voice.  I hear these things and I hear myself saying them.

…and I am so tired, so weak, so disheartened…

secret-city-2012__SQUARE.jpgRelighting the Fire

I am not physically tired.  I am healthy and strong.  I am just washed out emotionally as it relates to my athletic pursuits.

I have heard it said that the best way to handle your kids in sports is to say, “I just love to watch you play/run/throw because I see how much you enjoy it.  It makes you happy.”  The same experts say that the worst thing you can do is make your kids practice and/or compete as if it were a chore.  A lifelong love for a sport is fueled by the love of doing it.

The same is true for running, triathlon, and any other sport you do as an adult.  Whether you are training to finish a 5K or training to qualify for Boston or Kona, it still remains true.  You can keep a strict running schedule, but always keep your love for the sport primed.

Happy Place Number 1

In my first book, I had a little section about rekindling the love by going back to your happy place.  For me, that means cross country.  Run in the grass.  I love going to parks where there the local high schools have cross country courses set up.  These runs are nearly never compatible with my current training for various reasons.  When I run cross country, I run for the love of it.  I am happy.  I have only run one trail race in the entire span since starting to train in 2009.  That was last week.  I let my goals take me away from my happy place… until now.

Happy Place Number 2

My other happy place is the long run.  I have always enjoyed the longer distances, especially the marathon.  I get into a zone where I am relaxed and the world is a great place to be regardless of any present circumstances.  The thought of it brings a smile to my face.  I let my knowledge of the sport of running and triathlon take me away from more frequent long runs, rides, and swims.   I carefully balanced my training for minimal wear and tear along with maximal performance.

In my planning for minimal wear and tear, I took myself away from my happy places.  I stole the me-time that fuels my passion for running and triathlon.

…and that has worn me out…     … and I am oh so tired..

Renewing Your Love for Your Sport

Some people reach this point and just give up.  This is not a solution.  Giving up running is a way to stay permanently away from the things that bring you joy.  Not good.  The solution for being tired of your sport comes from rearranging priorities, not from giving up.

Remember the things about your sport that made you love it.  Go there early and often.  Prioritize it above performance, above the logical things that lead to being great.  Plan your training, but always keep in mind what keeps you in love with the sport.

Put “love of the sport” days on your weekly calendar.
Allow yourself flexibility on distance, pace, and time.
The goal of those training days is to smile.

Enjoy the run.
just P Mark__my signature

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Race Report: Atlanta Fat Ass 50K

It takes guts to run a 50K.
It takes G.U.T.S. to host the Atlanta Fat Ass 50K.

Thank you to the Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society (G.U.T.S.) for putting on a great race.  The Atlanta Fat Ass 50K is a time for their local group to get together, have fun, do some running, and have a chili cook-off.  The race is free to members, so I was happy to pay $15 for annual dues and get to participate in the run and the chili.  🙂

Now you know why it takes G.U.T.S to host the race.  Why would it take guts to run it?

The Fat Ass 50K was:

  • my first trail race
  • my first ultra-marathon race
    (ultra = running race longer than 26.2 miles)
  • my first trail run over 13 miles
  • my first run of any kind longer than 5.5 hours

First Trail Race? 

Yep.  I have run cross country races.  All of them were mostly on grass.  Very few roots or rocks.  All of them were only five kilometers long (3.1 miles).  I have run on trails many times, but never as a regular thing.

my fat ass

Apparently, I was not as happy as the runner in front of me!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Zen experience of a run through the woods.  It is life-affirming and relaxing.  In the end, however, I think God designed me to be a road runner.  My legs are much happier running on a nice smooth blacktop.  Most people have the opposite experience.  It’s not you; it’s me.  I’m just weird that way.

I absolutely loved the trail that G.U.T.S. selected.  It is gorgeous.  It has a nice variety of runscapes:  a few gravel roads, some very nice trails along the creek, and a good sized technical section including rocks to climb over and some steep inclines, including a long set of stairs.

Will I do trail races in the future?  Yes.  I will start adding them in this year.

First Ultra-Marathon? 

Yep.  The marathon was my main focus for several years.  I would do shorter races, but everything was planned around the marathon.  My goal was to get to the end of 26.2 miles with nothing left in the tank.  I was aimed at squeezing every ounce of speed possible.  If I felt fresh at the end, it means I was not trying.  With this mindset, I thought of ultra-marathons as a distraction from my training.  They took too much time to fully recover.  It just was not on my to-do list.

Will I do ultra races in the future?  Yes, but my next one will be a road race.

First Trail Run Over 13 Miles?

As I said earlier, I am not naturally a trail-runner.  If you are wise, you are wondering how I could prepare for this race with a long run of 13 miles.  Let me explain:  I did not prepare to race this race.  I signed up for a fun run.  Coming off a couple of Ironmans, I knew I could do the distance.  I knew it would be MUCH slower than I have ever raced on purpose.  I ran more trails in the month before, but I knew I was not prepared to “race” in any form or fashion.  I did prepare, but only enough to finish.

First Run of 5.5 Hours?

Yep.  Since I had never run longer than a marathon (26.2 miles), my slowest marathon was also the longest run I have ever completed.  I finished the Knoxville Marathon in 2010 in 5:25.  During the Fat Ass 50K, I had lots of flashbacks to that race.  In both races, I ended up doing a lot of walking.  In both races, I underestimated my fuel needs.  At Knoxville, I suffered through some very stiff winds and cold rain while I walked.  At the Fat Ass 50K, we dealt with temperature in the 20’s for the first couple of hours before it warming up just a bit.

How did I do?

It was my first 50K, so I knew that just finishing means that I would earn a PR (personal record).  That was the only goal.  I had guesstimated that I might average 12 minute miles.  That was based on averaging 11 minutes per mile while on the trail.  I expected to take about 30 minutes of breaks over the entire race.  Things went as planned until I made a fueling error on the 3rd of 6 loops.  That and a GI issue made the fourth loop quite a challenge.  By mile 21, I was in survival mode.  I was okay with walking a bit more.  My breaks got longer.  I finished with an average pace about 1 minute slower than my guesstimate of 12 minutes.  I also took a wrong turn at one point that added half a mile to my run.  If I had intended to really race this one, I would have been very upset with myself.  On this fun run, however, I was able to relax and laugh at myself.

Final Time:  6:40:20  (a personal record – Woohoo!)

Final Thought

I traveled to the race with Muna and several friends from the Rocky Top Multisport Club.  I knew Muna was out there setting her PR for her first 50K too.   I thought about her throughout the race and her presence motivated me when I needed it.

fat ass

Don’t look for me. I took the picture.

Although I did not run with the group during the race, we did have a group dinner the night before.  I knew there was group support and jocularity before and after the race.  All of this adds so much to the race experience.

Life is a team sport.  I am glad to have awesome people on my team.

Enjoy the Run!

 

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Social Pace: The Role of Social Runs in a Training Plan

“Social runs are good for your emotional and psychological health!” — Terri Preast

water hydration couple

I am adding a new category to my training plans.  So far, I have tried to stay true to the 80-10-10 rule.   About 10% of your weekly miles should be  run at a pace somewhere close to your 5K personal record pace (Tempo/Intervals).  About 10% of your weekly miles should be faster than that pace (Speedwork).  About 80% of your weekly miles should be relatively easy, at a pace that is 1.5-2 minutes slower than your 5K personal record pace (Easy Miles).  Research shows that runners that stick with this as a guiding principle tend to improve faster than runners that do not.

The 80-10-10 rule has worked very well for me, but this makes for a lonely life.  You see, in planning my next training schedule for maximum improvement my easy pace will be 7:15 minutes per mile.  At the social runs in which I have participated, there have been very few runners that expect to run at a 7:15 pace.  There are much faster runners in this town, but the elite runners do not usually join the social runs.  Most of the participants in the social runs average between 8:30 and 10:30 minutes per mile.  That means that If I stick to my training program pace, the only time I get to talk to people at a social run is before and after.  That is nice, but it seems to be missing half of the point.  There is joy in running together.  Running in isolation all the time can be rewarding, but a more balanced approach is healthier both mentally and emotionally.

I think it is time to add a new category.  I am going to aim for a 70-10-10-10 program.  I will aim for about 10% of my weekly miles to be at a new pace.  I shall call this Social Pace.  Social Pace will be defined as: “Whatever pace the main group of runners is maintaining during a social run.”  Will it slow my progress?  Probably, but just a little.   I like my runner friends.  The time with them is far more valuable than that price of slightly slower progress.

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Train hard. Race easy. Enjoy the run!

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The Gift of Running,by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book

– Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

– Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

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