As runners, we are constantly looking towards the future. Have you ever said this to yourself, "months from now I'll be faster and ready?" I know I have. Sometimes its important that we just appreciate where we are now and enjoy our fitness level before moving on. We work so hard to achieve that level yet we immediately look forward to when we are faster. Why is that? Well, I'm not sure but what I have learned is that we need to appreciate our current capabilities and enjoy them, at least for a little while before moving on. Taking a few weeks off from my task has given me the time to do just that. When looking back on 2013, its hard to believe how much progress I've made. During that process I've learned some valuable lessons that I will not forget and would like to share.
It Takes a Tribe
Running may seem like a very individual sport but it takes a whole group of people to really allow that runner to achieve their goals. At your next race just take a step back and observe. What you'll see is an entire group of people all helping, encouraging, supporting, and volunteering. People from all different walks of life, previously unknown to each other, all coming together to help the runners do their best. These are the people who really make the race special. They sacrifice their needs to help you achieve your best. Next time I head out to a big race, I know there is a community of friends, family, a significant other, and fellow runners behind me, all wanting me to succeed, all wanting it just as bad as me. How can one not run well with that kind of overwhelming support?
There is a phrase: "Consistency is King". This phrase is so true. In previous years, I was completely guilty of over training. I typically enjoyed easy running throughout the year and only pushed it really hard 3-5 weeks out from a race. This typically left me injured as was the story throughout 2012. In the beginning of this year I really allowed myself some time to develop a set schedule. After Out n Back I did just that. If you are really serious about your running and performances, I highly recommend making a set schedule with at least 18 weeks of workouts planned in advance of a big race. It is also important to only increase weekly mileage by 8-10% and pay attention to intensity levels. This year taught me that smaller incremental gains over a long term are better than running too much too soon; which seldom gets us to where we want to be at all. Go for consistency, your times will drop in time.
Perhaps, the most important thing I've learned this year is developing your mental "edge", "toughness", or whatever you want to call it. In Moab, UT, I didn't have the race I wanted. I ran an 1:40.40 for the half. After months and months of training it was a let down. So how was I able to suddenly run 1:27.02 for a trail half only a few weeks later? My fitness wasn't any better. I believe it had everything to do with my mind. Moab was a humbling experience, I learned failure is necessary for improvement. We all must go through it at some point there is no doubting that. What I learned was the necessary mental skills of confidence, determination, acceptance, tolerance, persistence, courage, and love. The confidence that my training has gotten me to where I need to be. The determination that I can win. Accepting the fact that I might not be able to do certain things well, but instead focusing on what I can do well. The tolerance to be able to accept failure and tolerant the pain that I put myself in. The persistence to continue even in the face of failure. The courage to even line up at the starting line knowing I'm about to make myself suffer. Lastly, absolutely loving what I do. Make sure you train your mind as much as you train your body.
All in all, its been an incredible year. I've met so many great people and all of you have impacted my life positively. The races, victories, and times mean nothing compared to the great people I've met and relationships created from those encounters. Those are the things that will persist even when we slow down and I thank you all for that. Its also important that I thank my girlfriend, Maureen. I don't tell her as much as I should as she puts up with so much. Its important that we thank our significant others for supporting our desires, they see us at our worst and deal with so much time away from us. With that being said I'm looking forward to an incredible and consistent year in 2014. If all goes well, I'll be attending five national championship races next year! I can't wait to share the journey with everyone! Thank you all!