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Runners seem to like to worry. Perhaps it’s a bit of the self masochism in us, on some level we must like to hurt, so it makes sense the same attraction is there for worrying. Our brains never seem to never be happy, or feel quite right, unless we’re preoccupied with something troublesome. [Why it has to be a negative is a topic for a post of another day!]
Am I doing enough? Is that a ‘new’ pain? Is that an INJURY?! Did I go out to fast? Am I doing too much? Should I ice that again? etc…etc. A common one is worrying about paces.
Well that’s only natural, of COURSE runners worry about paces…and they should. Paces are numbers, they are concrete, they are the benchmarks that tell us if we’re heading in the right direction, if all of this work is paying off. For runners, numbers are what show us progress. Paces, times, the black and whites of our sport are what feed that runner’s OCD-neurotic monster. It fuels our motivation.
Runners thrive on numbers. So paces and miles, naturally. The problem is
worrying stressing over the WRONG numbers. Let’s make a deal:
DO worry about the paces of your hard runs, races, and workouts.
DON’T worry about the paces of your easy runs.
Ahhh, there we go. Easy in concept but quite a different beast to wrestle when applied to the never-logical runner’s brain.
It’s far too easy to get sucked into thinking all paces are created equal. They AREN’T. They don’t hold races for ‘easy’ days…they could but then why not just make it a real race?
You see, it’s the hard running that counts. It’s the fast running that counts for PR’s. Let’s force logic onto our running brains here:
If you want to run FAST then the days that COUNT are the HARD ones.
How do you make sure your legs and body are recovered and prepared to run fast and hard on the days that count? Well, make sure they are able to recover between hard workouts. That means your easy days need to be run at whatever pace it is that allows them to recover.
Simple. Logical. But simple and logical sometimes get mangled in the runner’s brain.
So next time your brain starts off on a manic stress-induced worry attack because *HOLY CRAP* the pace of my easy run was soooo slow. STOP. Pause. Ask yourself this:
What was the pace of my last hard workout or race?
If the answer was that the pace was in the direction you want your running to go, if it’s showing progress…then who the flip cares about your easy day pace?!
Stress about what matters.
If your runner brain must worry about something pick something a little more benign. Maybe worry about the fact that your watch tan is blinding me.
1) The runner brain often can struggle with simple and logical, what’s another instance you have?
2) How do you keep your hard and easy day paces separate and at the right effort level?
3) Some run watchless, do you go naked on some of your easy days?
A runner’s brain is constantly being flooded by sensory input information. Feedback from the muscles, skin, lungs, eyes, ears, feet, nerves from everything. It’s a matter of taking all of these messages and warping them into what is in the runners’ best interest.
The Physical Messages
Typically the loudest feedback responders are going to be from your muscles and lungs. Here comes relays from your cardiovascular system and lactic threshold responders. The muscles announcing they are being worked, those mitochondria are breaking down glycogen and supplying your energy to run on; they are attention mongers demanding to be credited for their work.
These are pretty basic, primordial messages to your brain. Instinctual. You can’t change that these messages will be sent and that they are mostly containing shouts of pain, complaints, and fatigue.
You can’t control what messages are coming in while you are running but you CAN control how you interpret them. A runner that is mentally tough is able to manage and get as close to ignoring certain sensory feedback as they can.
* Anticipate: Incidentally the ability to manage what your legs and body are telling you while you run starts before the first step. This is anticipating the uncomfort in pain. It is a reality, but it is one we must both accept and deny. Accept the race and workouts will hurt but deny that we will let that pain break us. Anticipating the pain is a lot different from fearing it.
* Realize: Once you realize that EVERYONE will hurt when they push themselves running, not just you, a runner doesn’t feel alone. Admitting pain is present is not a weakness, admitting that these workouts are tough isn’t a weakness…it only becomes a weakness when you start to believe you can’t do the workouts.
* Assess: As you run assess the messages you’re being told and start to ‘sort’ them. Pain of a workout is present and it’s a different pain from that of an injury. Sort the ‘usual’ pain into the ‘ignore’ pile and be attuned to the ‘different’ pain.
* Reassess/Rework: Now that you have the ‘ignore’ pile it’s time to reassess those messages and rework them. We’ve acknowledged you can’t STOP them from coming in but you override them through a runner’s coping mechanisms.
1) Visualization- By practicing how you will be running beforehand you condition yourself to stay positive and controlled DURING your running, racing, and workouts.
2) Self-Talk- Mantra’s work well, flip the ‘I can’t keep this pace up’ into something productive like, ‘I am strong’ or ‘I will not let this break me.’
3) Focus on Controllables- When the pain of running becomes more intense hone in on the ‘controllables’ like stride, form, and breathing. Counting steps or breaths acts as a distraction.
4) Goals- Always set goals for your running workouts and races beforehand. Don’t ambiguously go in because without concrete numbers or goals it’s easier to let your brain talk you into just ‘settling’ and giving up when the pain starts.
5) Selective Denial- We come back to runners living in a kind of state of denial. The lies of, ‘I’m only running one more repeat/mile/5-minutes/step’ get us to the next point, where we then lie again.
A runner draws confidence from a lot of places: past workouts, a full season of training, race times, other runners they train with that have faster PR’s, etc. A large part of being mentally tough is being confident that you can WARP the messages coming into your brain and OVERRIDE them to push through the pain.
This confidence is built up the longer you run, the snowball effect. As with all other rules of running it hinges upon consistency, consistently proving you can push through the pain. There are margins for error and just like bad races there will be days where you don’t do a great of a job running and overriding the pain messages as you know you’re capable of.
You get through the bad days, learn where you went wrong, and then take those lessons into your next run.
Let your running be ruled by expertly brain warping that flood of sensory feedback from your body. Don’t let the messages steal your confidence because you CAN run and do a lot more than your body would like you to believe.
1) Anticipating the pain isn’t fearing it; fear takes hold of you and consumes your running confidence. What is a refute you use to keep this anticipation in check? (ie: remember times you’ve pushed through pain, mantra, pre-race hyping yourself up tactic, etc.)
2) Give an example of how you take assessing an incoming message you want to ignore and then reassess/rework it.
3) What are a few of the ways/places you draw confidence as a runner?
Getting a runner to be faster is an interesting undertaking. It’s actually a concept that coaches and athletes have been trying to perfect for centuries. As science has improved, training has evolved, we’ve created training phases and workouts that push the runner and train their body.
Simplistically it’s easy to sum it up like this: if you want to run faster, run faster. This is true of course, doing speed work and improving your base speed, is going to enable a runner to run a faster pace as the distance gets longer. As in, if you improve your mile time you’ll be able to run a 5k and 10k faster. If you don’t do speed work you’ll never improve your speed.
Though as I said, that’s overly simplistic, and if a runner is truly wanting to see how fast they can be they need to open their eyes and expand their training logs to include ALL of the factors that make a runner faster. You see, the body is an interconnected machine, you can’t just concentrate on straight running workouts.
I’ve been working on a series for Competitor.com tied to speed work and the other techniques that enable a runner to, well, run faster. There are drills, strength work, and a neuromuscular component to getting faster.
Check out the series so far:
What Distance Runners Can Learn From Sprinters
The Neuromuscular Component to Speed Work
Distance Runners Staying SHARP During an Injury
In reading each of them you’ll see that the first step to getting faster is working on your shorter-repeat speed. You shouldn’t avoid those 200′s even if you’re a 10k and above runner. But that’s ONE step in the process.
After that you’ve got to build the synapses and teach the nerves to fire faster; your brain is ‘telling’ your legs and foot to move faster. But if you don’t build the connections the ‘message’ won’t be able to travel faster from brain to foot.
A runner’s form is also related, and the articles touch on that. Running faster takes POWER and EXPLOSIVE propulsion from your muscles. Your muscles also need to be ‘waken-up’ and eased into the movements of running. That’s why a proper warm-up is so important for your had workouts and races. There will be more on that specifically in upcoming articles.
So if you’d like to run faster, even if you’re a marathoner, it’s important to realize that it’s a multi-pronged approach. It will take time too, but consistency is the law of distance running and THAT is what will, in the end, take you to the next level.
Consistently incorporate speed work, speed-endurance, and endurance work into your training.
Consistently be working on your core and strength routines.
Consistency with foot-firing and ladder drills that play off of the short speed sessions.
Practice, improve, and then have a coach or be a student of the sport if you’re training yourself.
Without going on a long tangent, a big mistake many new runners are making is getting swept up in marathon and mileage mania. They just want to do more, more, more. That’s fine, but if you want to get faster you need to TRAIN to run faster. That’s where quality of miles becomes more important than just quantity.
I hope you enjoy the series so far and keep on the lookout for the next ones. Running is an action that can be broken down to be incredibly simplistic: left, right, left. Running faster can also be thought of in simple fashion: run faster. BUT it’s a lot more complicated, and to be honest insanely interesting, than just that.
To run faster you’ve got to be training your body to do so on multiple levels.
1) What’s a concept about speed work that you have learned from this series so far?
2) Have you done any work geared toward training your neuromuscular system to get you faster? Or is this a new idea to you?
3) If you’re training to get faster, what are some of your ‘staple’ speed sessions?
Lately it feels like my brain is running way faster than my legs could ever keep pace. That’s a darn shame, because one would certainly opt for running a new PR rather than mentally shouting, “SHUT UP!” to your brain at 2am and imploring it to go to bed.
Speaking of PR’s, track racing season is getting to be in full swing. Some people have a bit of a phobia when it comes to the track, others find the monotony of double-digit laps, well, monotonous. The thing with track though, is it BLEEDS speed…as a runner, how can you not love that?
Each distance is unique, duh, the number of laps to the race you’ll be running presents its own challenges. The ratio of speed to endurance, the contrast between utter lactic ONSLAUGHT from the gun versus the more gradual building of the pain in the 10k. Both grueling, just in a different way.
Each race has a ‘volatile’ factor. This would be the crucial moments and laps that can make or break your race. The margins of time where if you’re not ON IT you may have very well lost the race even if you’re still got laps and laps to go.
There’s not just ONE moment in time of course, but for the sake of brevity let’s highlight a few of the volatile factors for the events:
* 1500/Mile: That dang third lap. Here is where the pain of the pace has already set in, the ‘taste’ of the finish isn’t quite close enough to kick in. Your mind starts to dauntingly anticipate that grueling last lap. COMBAT: Know that third lap is going to suck, know that it will make your race if you can pass the people letting their brain wander.
* 3200: Right around laps 4-6 it is easy to let your brain check-out. It’s prime time to make a move, surge and establish a gap on those who either went out too fast for that first mile or the poor souls who are just letting their mind wander. COMBAT: Go out on pace the first mile and throw down a move…remember the beauty of negative splits.
* 5k: It’s funny how running that first mile can feel so easy, a breeze, too easy. The middle mile is where you need to wrangle your brain and keep it FOCUSED. Much like the 3rd lap of the mile, the middle of your 5k can lapse into a fog if you’re not careful. COMBAT: Don’t let yourself get pulled out too fast the first mile, stay mentally engaged the middle mile, and anticipate the cold slap of pain somewhere after the second mile. It’s funny how it can suddenly sneak up on you, but be prepared for it and stay strong through to the finish.
Each race has its own set of ‘volatile’ factors…that’s what makes each and every track distance so fun. It’s a test, as is everything with running, testing mostly yourself. The competition is there as an opportunity to propel your performances forward…feed off of their presence.
Track is awesome, just don’t let the distance of the race pull a fast one on you. Be prepared and then enjoy the unique challenges of each event.
1) What is your favorite track distance to race?
2) Pick a distance I didn’t highlight and share one of their ‘volatile’ factors.
3) Share a ‘volatile’ factor that I didn’t address for one of the above races.
You know the kind of feeling where your running shoes are staring up at you, two gaping black holes where your feet SHOULD be.
In case you ever need that extra shove out the door I introduce to you the latest line in running shoes. Other quotes include:
* Love me.
* Erase me.
* I see you.
* That pint will taste better earned.
* You can’t see any writing on a winner’s shoes.
Whatever your shoes are saying to you, don’t let them mock you. Shut them up. Put your feet in them and get running.
1) What should be another quote/quip to add to our line or running shoes with sass?
2) What’s something you tell yourself if you’re lacking in the motivation department?
Remind myself that my own running guilt is NOT worth putting up with if I weenie out.
3) If we were to offer a line of spikes with writing on the soles, what should they read?
I think if we were to let people sharpie in some PR goals…just be ready to scratch out and re-sharpie.
I’m a runner, but to pay the bills I’m a writer. In doing some reading for work I came across an article highlighting a few of the traits that the author felt made Steve Jobs the incredible innovator that he was.
The thing is, be it a creative dreamer in the business world or a motivated runner with aspirations, many of the traits that will get you to the top in one apply to the other. A goal is a goal after all, being goal-driven and having the ability to persevere comes down to pretty much the same things.
The Entrepreneur article was a good read, but I found myself hearing echos of themes I’ve written about right here.
PASSION. Do what you love and regardless of outcome never forget that you love it. Running is wrought with highs and lows, to get through the tough times you need to remember that underneath it all, you really do have a genuine love for running in the purest form. Running fast is awesome, but running as a stand-alone needs to be your passion.
CURIOSITY. I’ll stretch this to mean more having the ability to wonder, “What can I do?” Run curious. Run for the journey of finding your best. Dream epic goals and go for them. Even if you fail you’re still better off than being moved to shoot for it.
NO FEAR. They say Jobs wasn’t afraid of failing, good. Because you shouldn’t be afraid, failures happen. They are unavoidable, you learn from failures and the epic fails of races and workouts make you BETTER. Or rather, they’ll make you better if you’re able to learn from them and apply those lessons going forward.
Running may be
better different than business in a number of ways, but getting to the top of something takes the same qualities regardless. This works even if the ‘top’ is your personal best. That’s the remarkable thing about running, even if you’re never going to realistically set a World Record or win an Olympic Medal you can still take the journey. Have the courage, tenacity, and CURIOSITY to take the trek to find your best.
Run curious, my friends. Run without fear. Run with PASSION.
1) What is a trait that you had before you were a runner that has helped your running?
2) What is a trait that running has actually helped you acquire and hone?
3) How do you try to run without fear?
Runners have a love affair with the Boston Marathon. Rightfully so, even if you’re not a marathoner, heck, even if you’re not a runner you’ve heard of the famed race. The hills have names, the stories of races past are epic.
I recently wrote a piece for Competitor.com: Four Boston Marathon Tips From Dick Beardsley. I thoroughly enjoyed doing this one for a few reasons, 1) the 1982 Boston Marathon, coined the Duel in the Sun, between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley defines mental toughness 2) Dick Beardsley was one of the most supportive and inspiring people to me after my car accident. He had multiple accidents that left his legs mangled, yet he is a runner today. He’s one of the sweetest, most positive people and his encouragement through my recovery meant the world to me.
In the article Beardsley noted how his parents, both non-runners, had gifted him with ‘to Boston Marathon’ funds upon his graduation from high school. When he finally did get to the starting line he recounts, “I’ve never been to a race where when you step off the plane you can feel the excitement in the air! I’ve spoke with Olympians that have told me they would rather win Boston then a Olympic medal!”
Racing brings out that electricity, the nervous excitement of hopes, aspirations, goals every runner has. The goals they’ve staked so much of themselves in, sweat out the miles, the grueling hard workouts, this brings anticipation. The anticipation is mixed with a bit of pressure (you need a little self-inflicted pressure, just enough, not too much though) because the day is finally here. Be it Boston or any race, a runner needs thrives off of that energy, the nerves, it ups the ante, and can fuel your performance.
The Boston Marathon has its hills named, but what aren’t named are the downhills. Ahhh, those tricky descents are deceptive because one would ‘think’ rolling downhill, letting gravity do a bit of work is ‘easier’. But as Beardsley stressed when asked of a crucial training tip for runners aiming for Boston, “TRAIN YOUR BODY ON THE DOWNHILLS AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!” Hill climbs work the quads but so do downhills; ironically the pounding force of the downhill can beat you up just as much, maybe more.
It’s also easy to carried away and blitz out too fast with those steep downgrades. In the article Beardsley cautioned runners how NOT going out too fast is infinitely more important on the Boston course.
Runners should train for their race course. I wrote all about that in THIS post, because there aren’t races on a treadmill, you want to be prepared for the conditions you’ll be racing your competitors on.
This year’s Boston Marathon, I won’t be shy, I’m not going to even try to hide the fact that I’m rooting for Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan. Hopefully this year one of these amazing women will bring Boston back ‘home’ in that an American will take the title.
For all those racing, be it the Boston Marathon or otherwise, have confidence. You’ve done all the work you can do by the point you reach the days and moments before hitting the starting line. Rather than look back with any doubts or ‘I should have dones’, push that from your mind. You can’t change the past. Only look forward, recount the tenacity for which you DID do the work, be realistic with your goals for the race, but don’t be afraid to reach high enough to make yourself feel a little uncomfortable…nervous maybe.
When the gun goes off, feed off of the energy around you, thrive off of your competition, let them pull you along, and RACE!
1) Have you run the Boston Marathon? Are you running this year?
2) How do you use the atmosphere of race day to fuel your performance?
3) Share a mental affirmation, or something you tell yourself, to make you feel confident when you hit the starting line.
By: Crystal Otto,
Blog: WOW! Women on Writing Blog (The Muffin)
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by Crystal Otto
I lost sight of my goals. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but sometime between college and 2012 I became so busy doing what I had always done, because I had always done it, that I created a life that was totally the opposite of my dream. My novel sat with 27,256 words, my children knew their nanny more intimately than they knew me, and I had to drag myself out of bed every day. The fun had been drained from my life and I hadn’t even noticed.
I’ve learned from my past and now I relax and assess my life. I do this often (daily, in fact) to ensure that I haven’t lost focus on what is important. I have a goal to blog three times a week, work on my novel, be involved in the community, volunteer at my children’s schools, and cultivate a healthy relationship with my spouse. When I relax and assess, I can see that there are things getting in the way of these goals. I then need to decide how to eliminate the distractions. Is an organization no longer aligned with my goals? Have I taken on too many volunteer opportunities? Do I have a friend who is monopolizing my time and sucking the life out of me? I ask myself these questions and then act accordingly.
I know I am nearing the ‘danger zone’ (reverting back to the previous me) when I am doing things just for the sake of doing them. My right brain is saying “this isn’t fun” and my left brain is responding with “but you’ve always done it, so just keep doing it” and that is when I know it’s time to sit down with a tall glass of water or short glass of wine and assess what and who is taking up my time and talents. When I assess and make the necessary changes I reach my goals more quickly and find that life is so much more rewarding.
Blog: Cait's Write...
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Running is wrought with the ‘two steps forward, one step backward’ tests and trials. I’d call it logic, but let’s be honest, most runners lost all logic about 5,000 miles ago.
Progress forward is HARD fought, once you’ve been running for awhile it then come in seconds and tenths rather than minutes. Each new PR ushers you into another realm, and in order to break through and run through to that next level it takes more work than before, and the cycle continues.
Eventually you’re working to improve by 1 or 2%, and by that time it takes more than just running harder and running faster. One must run harder and faster of course, but also SMARTER, be more ATTUNED, and then PATIENT.
All that patience sure does wear on a runner’s mindset. Typically we want those rewards, those PR’s NOW…but failing to be patient and look long term usually winds you up either 1) hurt or 2) limited.
* Hurt: By running harder and faster smartly that means allowing the body to recover between those hard and fast workouts. If you don’t recover on your easy days then you start greying the line between HARD and EASY. You might think that going harder more often will help, but in fact you wind up being too tired to really NAIL those hard workouts. A bunch of grey running just leads to a bunch of grey racing, not sharp, quality races and workouts. Well, that is if you don’t wind up injured first. I’ll include overtrained under the hurt category, because watching your times slip really does hurt too.
* Limited: By limited I mean you’re not looking at the BIG picture. To gain those ‘little’ percentages forward means you need to widen your scope beyond just running miles. It means having an actual PLAN, including core work, drills, strength work, stretching, injury prevention techniques, eating better...all those ‘extras’. Running SMARTER means being curious, and learning about all the other ways you can improve in addition to running harder and faster.
The other thing about training is there needs to be a balance between just running MORE and running FASTER. Volume and consistency is important of course, but so is being able to get QUALITY out of those miles.
If you DO care about getting more PR’s (someone asked me, so I’ll explain that as Personal Record) then you need to have a speed component in all that running. Some runners fail to think about running more quality, and get lost in the competition to just run MORE. That’s okay, but if you want to run faster you’ve got to get used to running faster, make sense?
Looking long term and being PATIENT means you can’t have it all, all the time. Get your mileage up to a decent level, but from there focus on getting more QUALITY out of those miles. Speed workouts will hurt, duh, but it’s the kind of thing that us runners are a little crazy about and sickly enjoy. Well, enjoy after they are done.
Stepping forward and back, parallels the HARD and EASY days…let the paces step back so you can recover and then jump forward again.
Stepping forward and back also parallels this disgusting thing called an injury; they are unavoidable to even the most patient runner. Take them in stride, get through them and be prepared to step forward again.
Running steps forward every time you get a new PR or hit better times in your workouts; on the heels will be the times when you take steps back with bad races, off days, and horrendous blow-ups of workouts. They happen…don’t let them derail you…because if you are running SMARTLY you can’t ‘lose’ your fitness after just a bad race, dispute that mental thought, it’s a lie.
Runners often want those gains NOW. But sadly, those gains have to be earned…earned with hard freaking work and loads of patience.
1) Fill in the blanks: I recently took a step forward _________________ and was prepared to take a step backwards __________________________.
2) Fill in the blank: I really want to run faster NOW, but looking long term I recently incorporated __________________ to get faster, the payoffs may take a little time.
3) When an injury DOES crop up it tests my patience but I get through it and grow as a runner by ___________________________.
Running is tough. Racing is tougher…downright painful. The brain has a funny little way of dealing with that pain, it gets sneaky and tries to coax us into slowing down.
Runner Brain: “I want to run a PR, dang this hurts, but I’m going to put the work in and stick this out.”
Annoying Tired Brain: “Well, fine, if you’re not going to listen to my complaints and willingly slow down I’ll just find other ways to trick you into it!”
Oh the brain, you slippery little eel, you.
* Self-Defeatist Thoughts: This would be when you’re running and your mind starts screaming in your ear, “You seriously can’t keep this pace up for any longer.”
* Dwelling on the Future: This is when your mind has on repeat, “Umm, and HOW much further do you think you’re going to be forcing me to do this? Think again buster, you CAN’T last that many miles more!”
* Bargaining: When your runner brain and your
sane tired brain get into a war, your lame-o brain argues, “C’mon, just ease up a little, trust me you’re not going to feel guilty or regretful about it, just ease up.” This is also known as a lie, because your runner brain knows you’ll feel regretful.
* Wandering: This is when your brain full-on goes on vacation, if you catch yourself mid-race thinking, “Wow, I really like the zebra print on that lady’s shirt, you see her, the one sitting on the 20th row of in the stands.”
A Wandering Mind = A Slowing Body
See, when the mind decides to check-out and wander like that what inevitably ends up happening is the pace starts to lag. Running through pain takes a special kind of focus, focus on forcing yourself to relax, to keep pushing, to stay ENGAGED in the race.
When your mind wanders it is sneakily distracting you from the
battle race at hand. My latest article at Competitor.com is all about staying focused during a race so you then, race your best: “Got a Wandering Mind? Here’s How to Stop It”
Read the article, but I’d like to add that a wandering mind is much different from zoning out during a race.
Aww, c’mon, I’m only joking…kinda.
I’ve talked about how zoning out is a mental trick to pushing through the pain. Zoning out:
* Locked Eyes Ahead:
Find a runner ahead of you, stare at a single spot on their back and refuse to let any distance open up between you and the spot.
* Breathing and Form:
When you zone out you think only of the tangibles you can control and NOT the pain from lactic acid. Thinking about standing tall, keeping your form in check,
and breathing controlled are all tangibles to think of.
* Think Relaxed:
When you zone out you want to let go of any tension;
don’t have your fists and jaw clenched, don’t have your shoulders in your ears.
Finally, zoning out is the epitome of being ENGAGED in the race, you’re single-mindedly in it.
A wandering mind is where you’re brain is anywhere but in the race. It is, in reality, just a backwards trick that your tiring brain is using to get you to slow down.
Don’t fall for it. Running often comes down to mentally ‘beating’ your own brain. Push past the pain, get through those intervals, drive for the finish line, and stay present in your race…because THAT is how you improve as a runner. THAT is how you set those wonderful PR’s.
1) What is an example of a trick your brain has tried on you to get you to slow down?
2) How do you one-up that slippery little eel of a complaining tired brain?
3) What is an aspect of zoning out? How do you stay zoned during a race and stay ENGAGED throughout?
By: Leslie Ann Clark,
Blog: Leslie Ann Clark's Skye Blue Blog
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I have thought about how important it is to live a purposeful life each day! I am always busy, but I want to be busy doing the right things each day. I don’t want to waste a moment! Think of December. Will you carry out any major goals before then? Do you have a goal? Your chances of accomplishing goals are better if you keep them in front of you! Write them down and then look at them each day. It’s okay to change your mind about a goal too. We are complex beings. We can change our minds! It only means we are growing!
Look at this website I found for girls in Dallas.
To empower girls from the inside-out. We envision girls celebrating their femininity. We envision girls at the conclusion of each program level possessing the understanding, wisdom and knowledge to live life on purpose.
We envision girls better equipped to make good, sound decisions to do all that they purpose to do. We envision girls developing a plan and taking action, not allowing their race, gender, community, or financial status to limit their potential.
Our mission is to inspire girls from all walks of life to discover who they are, to connect with other like minded girls and to pursue their purpose with passion
After reading this I found myself wanting to attend! We did not have anything like this when I was growing up. Empowered with wisdom, knowledge and understanding, making sound decisions, taking actions, no limits due to race or finances. (those are excuses) inspired! discovered!
What are your first steps in the right direction this year? Mine is to make the MASTER LIST! Then I can fill in times and plans to carry out the things on my list! Perhaps I will even share my list with you in another blog. For now, I leave you with this.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),
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By: Hazel Mitchell,
Blog: Hazel Mitchell
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It's 7.37am Jan 1st, 2013. I'm at the desk, drinking tea and nibbling blueberry pie. Well, it is still a holiday! I'm thinking on how we humans need touchstones and wondering why that is. Reflection and thinking forward seems our peculiar fate.
Enough with the philosophizing. I'm on a book deadline this week and am looking forward to a full day off sometime soon. Possibly. Here's the other thing - it's brilliant to be doing something you can't wait to leap out of bed to get on with.
But, before I pick up my pencil, I wanted to underline the highlights (mostly!) of 2012 for myself. Writing it here, on my blog, is an affirmation and a reminder of where I have been and where I am going (see para.1). I can see if I hit the goals I had in mind - or what came along on it's own two feet. There are things on the list I didn't think I would see. It's a reminder that the future always has some great things in store if we work hard at our dreams.
I could also write a list of things I didn't achieve or that went wrong. But that would be a bunch of negative and you don't want to hear me moaning (not on New Year's Day anyway).MY BEST OF 2012 LIST
Published - 5 books
Illustrated - 2 more coming 2013
WIP - graphic novel and MG illustrated adventure
Got shingles - :-(( (See below)
Attended ALA - 2 signings
Attended 1 conference
Attended a Highlights Foundation course
Attended R.Michelson Gallery opening and was part of the group photo (awed)
Attended an awards ceremony in NY Times Center for 'How to Talk to an Autistic Kid'
Won a gold medal from Foreword Reviews at ALA for Autistic Kid book, a couple of other awards and mentioned on lists
Mentioned in Publisher's Weekly
Exhibitor at Princeton Book Festival and several others
Did school visits (learned a lot!)
Heard some great authors and illustrators speak (feeding the soul)
Met new friends
Sadly said goodbye to old friends
Met up with wonderful old friends
Sailed on the sea several times
Art in a couple of exhibitions and visited some great ones
Received fan mail (means I gave back to someone)
Read a good amount of books (but not as many as I would like!)
Started a couple of new blogs
Sketched and drew more than I ever have
Stopped worrying about my style and just did it
Writing that list just made me realize what a fantabulous year 2012 was! I did so much more than I remembered. Thinking of those things gives me vitality and optimism for 2013. Except shingles ... and I nearly took that off the list. It wasn't an achievement or a good thing ... but it does remind me that in the list I write for 2013 looking after my health must be high.
So off to write me a list of goals for the coming year - I know already it's going to be a good one. I will do my best not to let myself down. Check back in next year to make sure I didn't.
Happy New Year to you all and I hope your resolutions bring you happiness and peace in 2013.
With running there really is no ‘off season’. There are quick lapses to allow for breaks, and don’t get me wrong, taking a break after a rigorous training cycle and racing season is INCREDIBLY important. However, at the same time, most athletes take only about two weeks before they get going again.
The ironic thing about running is that you can lose all that fitness you worked your @$$ off for pretty dang quickly; (Don’t believe me, talk to even a professional athlete when they go for that first run after their two week break!) yet, thanks to the miracle of muscle memory, consistent runners snap back into shape rather quickly too. So it’s about a two week hazing period after a break where the legs feel completely foreign and the lungs are screaming at you, but crest that hump and you start to hit your stride again and get into the swing of workouts.
If you’re not with a team running traditional seasons (ie: cross country, indoor track, outdoor track) you may be doing road races or training for a marathon. Trust me, there are no shortage of races to be had all year round. Is racing a necessity for being a runner? Hardly, I haven’t raced since Pikachu was giving kids seizures but I’m still a runner.
That said, many people need the excitement of a race as motivation to get in their runs and workouts. Lulls in motivation are something every runner deals with; though the trick to STAYING a runner is powering through them. Some ways to keep your running exciting and fresh, with or without a race coming up:
* Switch Distances: If you’re coming off of a marathon try training for a fast 5k. Working on your speed will always improve your longer races…think about it, the faster you can run a mile, the faster you can then hold a slightly slower pace for a 5k, 10k, and beyond.
* Go Long: Reflexively, if you’re coming off a string of 5k’s and 10k’s do some longer based threshold work and long runs as a half-marathoner or marathoner would do and you’ll improve your endurance. That will of course translate down in your ability to stay strong and close hard in those shorter races.
* Tackle Hills: If you’ve not done hill repeats or much hill running hit these suckers to improve strength. That extra strength will mean speed when you go back to the flats…plus, exploring new hilly terrain and trails can be fun.
* Run Naked:
Dreaming of cake works as motivation too!
No, not like that, but running without a Garmin
or being overly hung-up on paces is a necessity sometimes. Run for effort and do fartlek workouts
away from the track or marked trails. Here is a fix for the times where you may just be feeling burned out on workouts OR you find yourself getting so stressed out about times and splits that you really do start to dread your workouts. You should never dread your runs.
* Explore: Find new routes, find new people to run with, go outside of your comfort zone…anything that feels like you’re exploring your running in a new way. Often times running turns to routine, which can be helpful in some ways, but every now and again you need to shake up that routine to keep that running fresh.
* Basics: If you’re finding yourself feeling burned out or not sure where you want to go with this running thing, just roll with it. Remember WHY you run, how it makes you feel, think of some of your favorite races and runs and figure out WHY you enjoyed them so much. Go back to running like a kid would, just have freaking fun with it.
The reason I bring up keeping your running exciting and new to you is because our sport hinges upon consistency. There is no ‘off season’ for being a runner you see? Doing the same thing all-year round will inevitably bring times where the repetitiveness is just straight-up boring or unappealing.
Yes, there will be days where your running feels like a chore…BUT you do that chore for the day because not soon thereafter will be the days where your running returns to the ever-amazing passion that makes you feel right. You just have to stay the course and keep yourself motivated through those lulls.
1) What is one way you’ve kept your running fresh and exciting?
2) What are you currently working towards? Whether it be a race, a new kind of training style, getting speedier, etc.
3) When’s the last time you ran ‘naked’?
As 2013 starts, it is traditional to write down writing goals and I am doing that. But I am also pondering the fact that I am in charge of my own writing, and that is a double-edged sword.
As 2012 drew to a close, the Congress was debating fiscal matters, trying to prevent the country from falling off a so-called fiscal cliff. As much as I might care one way or another, it was all out of my hands. I voted for a Congressman and for a President. But beyond that, the decisions were not a part of my daily life.
My writing, however, rests squarely on my own shoulders. Will I write today? (Duh!) What will I write–today? That isn’t President Obama’s business, it’s mine.
In the amazingly relevant book, ART AND FEAR, Bayles and Orland say that we daily face a specific fear: “. . .–the fear that your fate is in your own hands, but that your hands are weak.” (p. 3)
For me, the overriding drive isn’t the fear of failure, it is the fear of never-having-tried. I don’t want to hit 100 years old and look back and regret that I never tried. Tried what? The stories that scare me, that I think I am too weak, too bad a writer to pull off, too inadequate to tell such a moving story.
I don’t know what I will write this year, there are many factors to weigh. But one of those is the need to accept the challenge of telling stories that are important to me–even when I am terrified of trying. That’s my only goal for 2013: to write with more courage and determination than ever before. Because I am in charge of my own writing.
What story have you been too scared of writing? What story did you think you could NEVER write? Let’s do it together this year!
Runners need to live in a constant state of selective amnesia. Namely, we need to push from our minds the runs that feel like we are dragging lead bricks behind us or the times when our legs decide to pretend they’ve never run a decent split on the track ever before.
We keep running EVEN through those crummy runs.
We push from our minds the miles that are more painful than they should be and let the recollections of these dark workouts and dismal races
slip into the darkest of chasms within our grey matter. We do this so that we have the fortitude to lace up and go out for that next run. Selective amnesia, you see, is quite a prolific coping mechanism for a runner.
The memories and moments that we cherish are the workouts that click, when we feel totally in sync with our stride. We are running controlled, relaxed, smooth, and ON. We savor the days where we come back from a long run with a new ‘personal distance record’, ironically we will even remember the moments BEFORE that long run where we wonder if we’ll be able to do it. We let consciousness retain those dark, slivers of doubt because in the end we proved those doubts WRONG. We now have more proof that the whimpers and whispers of doubts are fallacies and lies, we CAN do much more than our brain wants us to believe.
Let the bad runs fade into the background and look forward to the better ones.
Runners, we will even keep aroundall those mundane and ‘normal’ miles run
because they are constants. They may not be all that thrilling or exciting, but they are the bulk of our running history and we can’t thrive on just the epic highlights. These regular runs also define us in that without these recollections we’d really only be runners a handful of times in our lives…I mean those EPIC runs only come far and few between. We continue to run in the quest of them, but we don’t stop because we don’t hit a certain quote.
Keep on living in that realm of being able to decide that once a certain heinous run is done, that it never existed. Do that so you are brave enough to shower and then run again. Those really bad runs test us and help toughen us up, we NEED them in fact. But rather than letting the craptastical runs DEFINE us, we are entitled to let them slip away into oblivion.
1) Have you had times where you felt ‘off’ and like your run was much harder than it should be? Did you pretend that once some of those bad runs were done, that they didn’t really happen, OR, that they didn’t suck as much as they did so that you were ‘brave’ enough to get out there and run again tomorrow?
2) How do you cope with bad races? Do you try to learn something from them and then give yourself permission to ‘forget’ them?
3) What is one run you will NEVER let selective amnesia do away with?
Let’s talk about runners, pressure, stress, and how to be faster by just relaxing. I recently wrote an article for Competitor.com: “Run Relaxed to Your Next Personal Best”.
Keep the circle running on the track, not the ruminating doubts.
The thing is, it’s often times that runners WANT to run faster so badly that they end up shooting themselves in the foot. The stress of TRYING so hard is the very thing that winds up slowing them down.
A runner then gets even more frustrated, TRIES harder, and usually gets slower. It’s a vicious cycle but typically one that every runner at some point gets stuck in.
Getting unstuck is a lot harder, because telling someone to ‘try less’ isn’t quite right; more correctly you need to ‘strain less’. But learning how to ‘try’ without the ‘strain’ is a complicated matter…it all comes back to that runner brain and the mindset you’re running with.
What a runner in angst WANTING to run faster has to do is, basically, stop wanting it so freaking hard. Crazy, right? Let me explain the chain of events:
1) Runner is worried about a tough workout. They take those nerves into overdrive and cross the line into ruminating about paces, splits, etc.
2) Rumination turns into STRESS. They’re so wound up about the workout or race, they doubt if they’re capable, they worry they’ll fail.
3) Nerves, turn to stress, and then to PRESSURE. They load themselves up with so much pressure, it’s kind of like they are putting a weight-vest on themselves.
Being so worried and stressed is the kiss of death. It’s hard to describe WHERE the line is between enough nerves to propel your performances forward and then too much so that it kills your performances, so we often look for external cues.
Think of cake if that makes you relax!
1) Run Relaxed: This applies to form and physically ensuring that you’re not harboring extra tension. The article describes those four major points and how to relieve that tension. Often time, shaking out your tight shoulders or jaw acts as a ‘reset’ button and can get you back on track.
2) Mentally Relax: Usually it’s a build-up of stress that leads to over-thinking and stressing over every workout or run. If you get to that point think of ways to get back to having fun with your running, suggestions HERE.
3) Stay in Check: Before you get to the point of freaking out before each workout catch yourself early. Practice running where your mind is on keeping good form, staying smooth and strong, repeating mantras [I am strong], and staying confident in yourself as a runner. This line of thinking sets you up to ‘try’ the right amount because you’re not consciously telling yourself to TRY.
It sounds so backwards, but next time you start berating yourself over a missed split STOP. Take a deep breathe, try a ‘reset’ technique, and don’t try so flipping hard. RELAX and RUN.
1) When was a time when you were trying so hard you got in your own way?
2) How did you get yourself back on track and ‘try’ the right amount?
3) How do you catch yourself if you notice you’re starting to over-think things and put too much stress and pressure into running?
Before you step out for your next run ask yourself this, “What am I trying to accomplish?” Every run should have a PURPOSE.
Defining the PURPOSE of every run is important for a lot of reasons:
* Motivation: The first obstacle with running is just DOING it. Set a goal, a purpose, REASON why you’re going out there. Whether it be to just have fun and enjoy the fun, to make sure you get some recovery miles in, build your base, hit the track, or toe the line for a race. It’s a lot harder to blow something off that is DEFINED rather than ambiguous. (ie: I guess, maybe, I could, like, go out and run, maybe?)
* Improved Workouts: If you’ve got a hard workout for the day, figure out the GOAL of that workout. Is it to improve your speed? Endurance? Hill strength? Know what the aim is, once defined as concrete it’s easier remember why it’s important to put in the WORK. Mentally, when it starts to hurt it’s a lot easier to keep pushing knowing that you are working towards a definite goal.
* Over-training: Setting a purpose for each run not only makes sure that you give it your best for hard workouts but it also has the same effect on those of us who tend to overdo it. Stop and think, “WHY am I going out for this run? Is it in the best interest of my long term plan, will these miles DO something for my running? Or, am I just running to run and these miles will just make me too tired for tomorrow’s workout?” See, the knife cuts both ways.
We keep running EVEN through those crummy runs.
Having the purpose set for each run makes our training look like a bunch of blocks, you’re building the runner you want to be. Some blocks are tiny and can’t hold that much weight (bad runs)
but others are STRONG and make up for it (good runs). Thinking of it that way can help after those bad runs…it’s just ONE block…move onto the next.
* Fix a Weakness:
I’m gonna send another shout-out to fixing your form
and becoming a more efficient runner.
Perhaps the last 1/2 mile of your next easy run should have the purpose of: “I will think of standing TALL every step of the last mile of my run.”
* Racing Long Term:
Your training is not defined by a single run and your best race
is NOT defined by a single run (day). No, what defines how well those races wind up is your cumulative training. Running is all about CONSISTENCY, all those runs leading up to your best race had a purpose, just like puzzle pieces that eventually make a kicak@$$ picture.
If you want your running to improve, set a PURPOSE for the run. Always know what you’re running towards because it helps get you out the door and GET IT DONE!
By the way this little trick works for de-stressing too. If you’re getting too wound up, putting too much pressure on yourself, and stressed about your runs think about it like this, “What am I trying to accomplish in this run?” Answers: “I want to leave my watch at home and run to enjoy it” , “I want to go explore a ton of new trails” , “I want to get OVER my phobia of the track, run for effort and not stress about splits.” See, it works.
1) Define a PURPOSE for your next run.
2) What was the purpose of your last run, if it was a hard workout, what kind?
3) Give me an example of a purpose for the run right after a really sucky run.
I’m not going to let the memories/thoughts of that sucky run effect my next run.
By: Leslie Ann Clark,
Blog: Leslie Ann Clark's Skye Blue Blog
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2 1/2 years ago I bought my trusty little Apple laptop. The other day I was working on it and up came a window telling me I had about 100 GB of information on it! This memory includes programs that I run, but most of it is ART!! Fabric design, product concepts, children’s books and more. Peepsqueak and his friends, Newton my lamb and his friends, a friendly new elephant and monkey, some babies, some clowns, Lae Dee Bugg, Snofolk, and more! Always more. What great fun it has been to look back at the last 2 1/2 years! It has me wondering just how much art will fill this computer by the end of 2013! I have some ideas right now!!!!
By: Leslie Ann Clark,
Blog: Leslie Ann Clark's Skye Blue Blog
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For as long as I can remember, I have LOVED toys! To have a toy made from one of my cartoons is my dream come true! It will help the world see my character the way I see him. REAL!! ha ha! This series of plush Peepsqueaks in the pictures above, were the first proto-types that came to my home. Merry Makers is the toy company we worked with. It was so fun to see my little Peepsqueak transform from page to puff! He is such a cute little plush!! Merry Makers did such a good job! You can buy Peepsqueak now if you go to their website. They welcome retail orders online at http://www.merrymakersinc.com and retail and/or wholesale orders at 888-989-0454 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is the final Peepsqueak. I just love him! Isn’t he cute!!! I brought him to a preschool yesterday and the children loved him and all wanted to pet him…. so they did!!!!
So order your Peepsqueak now! He is waiting to live in your home!!! Don’t forget, the books, “Peepsqueak”, and “Peepsqueak Wants A Friend” are at your bookstore waiting for you too. They would all make great gifts for the kiddies on Easter.
Filed under: My Characters
After running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon in New Orleans Shalane Flanagan Tweeted something all runners can relate to, “Running PR’s are fun!”
Succinct. To. The. Point.
Flanagan followed it up in THIS Competitor
recap with, “I think anytime you can run a personal best, that’s something special. You can’t take those for granted.”
So true. The thing with PR’s is they become quite rare. Elusive like that unicorn that poops out gold
They are especially rare as you improve and get faster. Sure, you start running and the improvement curve is such that you could lop minutes off of successive 5k’s like it’s nothing. That incentive to keep stepping up your game becomes more enticing, you cross the line fresh off of your last PR and think, “Okay, bring on the NEXT!”
From there the PR’s probably still come, but they are in shorter intervals, no longer full minutes. They become more hard fought, you must start reaching into new levels of mental toughness. You get more calloused as a runner both physically and mentally.
It then gets to the point where those PR’s stick for awhile. Weeks, months, years maybe. Funny how much HARDER you must FIGHT and PUSH for single seconds. Tenths of a second. Hundredths even. Regardless of level, elite or mortals of the world, everyone is fighting for those dang seconds.
Time hangs in the balance, the irony is that as you watch the clock tick down as you barrel for the home stretch on the cusp of what could be a new PR, the seconds FEEL excruciatingly long but they seem to TICK OFF much too quickly. Will you make it to the line in time?
Then there are the days when you know you are a much better runner than the ‘old’ you. It’s been awhile since you dusted off that PR and it’s high time you smash the crap out of it. THOSE races are da## exciting. Running for the finish line you don’t even have to plead or bargain with the clock. You just know.
Those days are what make all that hard stuff worth it. Though the rewards can be tauntingly bittersweet as they don’t come often enough for the distance runner. But it’s okay, you can’t feel too bad for us, because if you STICK IT OUT and then greet that next PR the feeling makes it totally worth it.
Because like Flanagan summed up in a mere four words is quite true and need no further elaboration, “Running PR’s is fun!”
1) Finish the sentence: Running PR’s is…
2) Try to quantify the level of exertion one second of a PR takes to a long-standing PR compared to the minutes you can lop off when you first start.
Hmmm, because I’m the famous mathematician that I am I will say it’s five times the cubed rate of seven factorial.
3) Is there a distance you haven’t raced yet and looking forward to setting a newbie PR streak?
It is a great joy to be an artist! I rarely get tired of creating new things. When I am not creating, I am busy thinking about creating.
Occasionally I get stuck. A design might not be working, a color might be off, a story might need more tweaking etc. This is when its time to take a break!
Saturday was just such a day. The blue skies of Colorado were mesmerizing. The crisp clean air and the white, bright snow were a refreshing sight! My husband and I walked along this lake soaking it all in.
Sure enough, upon returning to my work, I could see what I could NOT see before, a new perspective! So if you get stuck, take a break!! Get some fresh air! Your work will be waiting for you only this time you might just find the solution you were looking for.
Filed under: Kicking Around Thoughts
Yep! I did it! I made it through another colonoscopy with flying colors! I will let you in on a little survival secret. How to drink the yucky liquid without tossing your cookies.
Try this method. This is all you need:
1. 9 – 8 oz paper cups with straws
2. “The drink”
3. A timer
4. A computer and the Pinterest website
My colonoscopy required me to drink 9 glasses of “the drink”. One glass every 10 minutes! EEeeeek!
Simply pour the liquid into the 9 cups. Next, go to the Pinterest website. Most of you who know Pinterest, know, that it is a great sucker of time. That is what you want, you want to be taken away to Pinterest Land and lose track of what you are doing until the timer goes off! Soon you will be ready for cup #2, then #3 and on to # 9! Viola! You are done! Thank you Pinterest!!!! …. and yes, everything came out just fine! haha!
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By: Leslie Ann Clark,
Blog: Leslie Ann Clark's Skye Blue Blog
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Have you ever started a new chapter in your life? Have you ever dared to do something you never did before? Did you feel launched into it and found yourself in free fall? You are not alone. It happens all the time! Anyone who wants to do something worthwhile in life has to take risks and sometimes those risks lead to even more risks!
When my art career began, I was imagining all the possibilities. I dreamed of success. I created many fun little cartoons and talked about what I wanted to do with them. Then one day, I ran into a friend who was DOING what I wanted to do. She shook me! She said, “Les, you have to go to the N.Y. Stationary Show and you have to go NOW!
I had heard of this show. I had many of my friends online talking about going. This was back in the late 90′s. There was something in her voice. It was more like a command from heaven than a gentle nudging from a friend. I made up my mind to go!
This was huge for me. I had only been on an airplane once for a 45 minute flight. I practically sat on the lap of the man sitting next to me… asking him what this bump was and what THAT bump was! I decided I better pray about this trip. I told the Lord that if HE wanted me to do this then he would have to make the way for me. A few days later someone had put an envelope in my mailbox. It was $300.00. Enough for my flight! It was not long until I was flying across America to New York City. I met up with my girlfriend and stayed with her uncle and aunt. We took buses, rode trains and cabs. Once at the show we had to pedal our portfolios. I am NOT a sales person. … but there I was asking people where their art director was and if I might have a minute with them. Over and over. Hmmm…. it became a little easier each time.
One last company sat down with me. They looked through my whole portfolio and asked if I had anything more? I pulled out one last picture of a little baby. That was it! That was the one the art director liked. She asked me if I had any more and I told her I would email them to her when I got home. You better believe I was sketching babies on the airplane!
This was one of my first “be brave” moments. Over and over the good Lord has taken my by the hand and shown me what to do next. Some would say, “you are weak if you need help for everything.” But I say, I am smart for asking.
I have a few more adventures I am yearning for. There will come that day, when the dreaming is over, and the bags all packed and ready to GO!
What are you waiting for? Be Brave!!!!!
Filed under: God STuff
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If you’re going to do something, why not make it epic? This quote has been running through my mind lately; 1) I’m working on a pretty exciting project, stay tuned for details and 2) It also has to do with THIS cartoon and the story behind it..sorry, Mo, I stole your word!
But back to the quote, and going for epic. Perhaps I should edit it to say: “If you’re going to do something, why not TRY and make it epic.”
Because the truth of the matter is you very well may not wind up making it all the way to epic. I’m not being pessimistic, just realistic. Some people would argue that quote is setting people up for disappointment, “If I’m never going to run in the Olympics, be the best in the world, or set a World Record, then where is the point in all this training?”
True, most people won’t ever set a National or World Record, they won’t come home with a Gold Medal. But the thing is, I’ll guarantee you that you’ll run and set a Personal Record at some point…probably more.
Insert obligatory eye-roll here. But let me continue. The people who don’t at least TRY for epic really are just afraid to step out of their comfort zone. Their comfort zone is safe, it ensure they won’t really fail, it also ensure they probably really won’t excel…they’ll just be nice, safe, *gasp* mediocre. Now, mediocre is totally OKAY, nothing wrong with it at all. But the thing is, if you’re NOT okay with mediocre, you’re always welcomed to TRY for epic.
Running is awesome because it is a sport where anyone can improve with hard work, grit, determination, and self-motivation. The feelings of PR’s and knowing you pushed yourself to new limits are indescribably self-fulfilling. The feeling of KILLING it in a track workout or race are, in a word, epic.
Why not shoot for epic?
Define epic…it is greatness, it is awesomeness, it is rewarding, it is awes-freaking-tastic. But all of those can be different for different people. You see, epic doesn’t have to be defined as setting a World Record or being a total flop of a failure. YOUR epic may be realizing that you much stronger, faster, fitter, mentally stronger than your ‘mind’ told you that you were.
Quite honestly, you may wind up short along the way. A goal you don’t hit, eventually you will set your last PR…*single tear*. When you hit the climax, what the heck happens if you DON’T hit what, in your mind, was your ‘epic’?
You would be allowed to be disappointed. But I GUARANTEE you that you’re much higher up on the ‘epic scale’ than when you started. Running and training your @$$ off, you maybe didn’t hit the pinnacle you wanted, but dang-nam-it you improved.
You didn’t sit at mediocre. You TRIED.
If you’re going to do something, give it your all. If you truly want it, believe in it, and you find it rewarding…TRY for epic.
What holds most people back? Ultimately fear. Right behind it a lack of motivation…lol.
But I think fear is the root of it. Fear of the work it would take. Fear of failure. Fear you’re not good enough. Fear you’re not as good as you think you are…aha…that one!
That brings up the question: Would you rather stay at mediocre but live with the assumption that if you DID try then you would be awesome OR go out on a limb and try, then be faced with the reality that you didn’t quite measure up? Going with the first one will keep you in the safety bubble of mediocre.
Don’t let insecurities, fear, failures, hard work, REALLY hard work [umm, trust me, track workouts need a whole new word for REALLY. HARD. WORK.], and set-backs rob you from trying for YOUR epic.
Be different, test yourself, push yourself, be unique, FIND YOUR epic. Hell, go run.
1) Define what ‘epic’ would be for you? Pick a goal, it doesn’t necessarily have to be running related.
2) Define what falling short of that epic would mean to you?
Sure it sucks, but we CAN cope with sucky.
3) What has been something that’s held you back from getting to your epic, or holding you back from TRYING for your epic?
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Running and fueling the machine. In my recent article for Competitor: Nutrient Timing is Everything for Runners I really like the bottom line to everything my go-to sports nutritionist Krista Austin Ph.D. professes, “Food is a performance tool.” She teaches her runners to “eat to perform.”
Runners are human, of course, but at the same time it would be naive to ignore the fact that what goes into your body has a direct correlation to what it is able to give you right back. Thankfully, I also like that quick on the heels of that Austin also says, “However, my policy is that at least once a week every athlete should have a ‘fun meal’ where they don’t think too much about what they are eating and just enjoy fun food-the key is to watch the portion sizes.”
It’s all a matter of balance. Just as runners and training, balance, consistency, and the law of averages often wins out with their nutrition. That isn’t to say there aren’t times when the PERFORMANCE style of eating trumps the LIFE side of eating.
Case in point, the night before a race or the actual day of your race. Here is where, if you’re a runner, ignoring your taste buds and eating with your HEAD is the wiser choice. Austin has explained to me that Dathan Ritzenhein’s top pre-race meal of choice is plain, white rice. Is it his favorite tasting meal? Probably not, but you know what? He knows it sits well in his stomach, it will give him the non-complex carbs he’ll want in his system right before the gun goes off, and he knows it works. His race, his PERFORMANCE, is the priority. Taste buds can wait until after the finish line.
I’ve done numerous articles on runners and nutrition, a few you can revisit:
How Runners Can Stuff Their Faces at Restaurants But Still Perform at Their Best
Runners Going Gluten-Free: Could making the switch work for you?
The Post-Run Refuel: Why 30 minutes is your winning window of opportunity
My latest one is on nutrient TIMING and just how crucial WHEN you eat is when tied to your running performance.
Dreaming of cake works as motivation…just wait until after the finish line!
Read the original article
, but here are some more tips I’ve got from talking to Austin:
* Think long term goals AND short term nutrition goals: With nutrient timing there are macro and micro cycles; the macro would be your BIG training goal, think an entire season or build-up for a marathon. Tailor your food choices and nutrition goals for that, but within each multi-week/month macro cycle fit in 3-10 day micro cycles. An example- A macro cycle would be if you’re training for a marathon, a micro cycle IN that would be a week where you’re focusing on building your speed with shorter intervals. For the micro cycle your eating would be different than in your longer/base phase.
* A second recovery window: We’ve all heard that within 30 minutes of finishing your workout you NEED to get protein and carbs back into your system. What I didn’t know was that there is ANOTHER window of time that is particularly important to refuel your stores: just before bed. Aim to get 20-25 grams of protein, preferably in the form of dairy (cottage cheese, milk), with some carbs. It’s been found the muscles will respond to this, and it also aids with sleeping.
* Marathoners and carbs: Yes, we need carbs as runners, but a mistake many marathoners in training can make is just over-doing the carbs. Meb Keflezighi has become more strict with his carb intake as he’s gotten older; he’s moved up in distance but switched some of those carb calories over to fats and protein and they help keep him fuller. He’s a lot more picky about the KINDS of carbs he eats, WHEN he eats them, and WHICH training phase he’s in.
For more information on how to time your eating so that it’s best fueling your running performance check out the article.
Food is fun, one of the BEST perks of being a runner is we have way more entitlement to stuff our faces. BUT there are times when we must stuff our faces with our brains…because in fueling our bodies right we can fuel them to perform at their optimum level. Read as: Run PR’s!
1) What is something you learned from either this post or from the article? If nothing care to share a tidbit of your own?
2) What is your go-to pre-race meal?
3) What is your go-to post-race meal or ‘fun meal’?