Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Time To Be Realistic

 It used to be the end of November was the time I would sit back and digest the past year of running. I would form  a graph in my mind of the accomplishments and the pitfalls. November would bring the Thanksgiving 5ks and my fastest running.

 Unlike most runners I associate with, I didn't run in high school (unless I was being chased by the men in blue) I never ran track or cross country and didn't play any action sport. As a family, the only real physical activity we did was Mountain hiking and going to the beach, which averaged out to only a few times a year.

 I loved the outdoors though and when I was eleven, my parents bought a big ole farm. My fondest memories are spending hours in the old barn and day long adventures in the woods. I felt so at ease and comfortable in the woods, perhaps that is the root that draws me to trail running.

 I'm getting a little off point here, but to be realistic, I have to understand that I didn't have the type of training base when in school to help me now. It seems the body and mind can't quite stay on track even though I feel I understand the nature of training properly.

 When the kids came along, I decided to give them what I never had. I encouraged sports activities,I was an actively involved parent and even spent eight years coaching little league. As they got older they migrated from Baseball to soccer (field hockey)  then to track.

I was envious of their camaraderie and their capabilities as they all excelled. I spent many nights wondering how I would have done in school sports and probably would have learned some pretty valuable lessons too.
So, finally when my youngest was winning state championships and preparing for college, I decided I would give running a try.

 Though I was 46, I felt like a youngster as my first year of running progressed quickly. My first 5k time of over 26 minutes was dropped to 22 minutes when the Thanksgiving races arrived. By year two I blew out a 44 minute Beach to beacon 10K, an amazing 7:26 pace 1/2 marathon and a 20:18 5k. All of this while averaging only about 15 miles a week with my longest ever single run of 8 miles a few weeks before the half marathon.

It's been 9 years and since then I have done nothing but slow down progressively every year and the Prs just aren't coming anymore. I thought as I started running longer distances and mostly trails that my times would still be in the 25 percentage for my age group but instead I land in the back of the pack.

 It seems perhaps with my work schedule and other time restraints that I can not put the training effort needed to accomplish what my brain expects of me. It is entirely possible that I just don't understand or implement a sound training program. I find myself dwelling on the goals I didn't reach rather than the ones I did.

So....here it is September, a time that I usually am powering forward and enjoying the fall running season. Instead I find myself soul searching and looking for answers within myself. It is time to be realistic with my running, myself and my goals.

 I'm not being a "debbie downer" or whining so much as I am trying to feel comfortable with my races and adopting a more realistic view. What am I really trying to accomplish here? If it is my love of trail running and spending time in the woods then I have to forget about being competetive and just enjoy it. if instead, I need to be putting up fast times (age adjusted) then I should steer my running back to the shorter road races.


Sparkplug said...

Kevin, I think it is awesome that you took up running a bit later in life, and I hope you stick with it, whether on road or off! I think the thing is that trail running is so different than road running. It is tough to gauge whether you are getting faster or stronger, because courses and conditions can be so different from one race to the next. Anyway, one way or the other, don't give up and keep on running. I think you are going to have an awesome run at Stonecat :-)

vja said...

Kevin, I've loved running this year more than any other. I don't think any of my times have been PRs. It is the time just running and the places and people I run with. Today, I had a talk with a porcupine :)

mindy said...

I echo what the others have said. Some people love to race and hate to train, some love to train and hate to race. I guess there are people in between, too. Is it the thrill of racing you love? Is it having a goal? Is it just running whenever you can? The only thing I can offer is, go with what you like, and do more of that :) I discovered I really don't like racing and have been very happy just setting my own goals, coming up with a plan, and enjoying the run. And I'm going to try and do more of that. Run as much as I can, with the people I enjoy, on the trails I love. If you really love racing, then you can work things around that, too - there is certainly never a shortage of runs around here and if there's not one you like, just make up your own, you know there will be piles of TMs lining up next to you! :D