Tag Archives: goals

2014 Progress Report on My Own Training & Performance

In the midst of watching my run coaching clients make progress and set personal records, I have forgotten to reflect on my own progress as a runner.

A lot has happened in the last year or so.

  • I injured my knees in late November of 2013 and did not run for 4 weeks in December.
  • I was clipped by a car while riding my bike in February 2014, suffering a concussion.
  • I ran my first Boston Marathon in April, which turned out to be my second slowest marathon time.
  • I focused my summer training on the 800 meters and 1 mile distances.
  • I competed in my first “USA Track and Field” sanctioned track meet.
  • I became a RRCA certified running coach.
  • I ran two mile races on the road and 5 track meets in the summer.
  • In between track and mile events I also completed my very first triathlon, the “Storm the Fort” Half-Iron Distance.
  • I did a total of three triathlons in 2014, two half-iron distance triathlons and one sprint triathlon.

Townsend 15KSetbacks

Due to the time off from the knee injury and concussion, my fitness level suffered.  I lost a lot of progress.  I have been pushing hard all year just to get back to level of fitness that I had a year ago.  I have loved the training.  I enjoy pushing myself.  On the other hand, it has been extremely frustrating to work that hard and not achieve any personal records.  Very discouraging.

Progress

Yesterday was a big victory.  No, I did not win a race.  I was even a full minute behind the winner in my age group.  Still, it was a big victory.  I set a personal record (PR) in the 15K distance (about 9.3 miles).  That feels pretty good.

I still have a ways to go.  I am still a bit behind where I was in February of last year.  That is when my fitness last fully peaked.  I ran a 1:27:42 on a hilly half marathon course.  This is 9 seconds per mile faster than the 15K I ran yesterday.  Hence, I am close, but not quite all the way there.

When will I get there?  Well, I have 2.5 weeks left before I taper (ease up and heal) for the Savannah Marathon, which is on November 8.  I will have 5 key workouts in that 2.5 weeks.  I may not reach a PR at Savannah, but I should be very close at that point.

Conclusion

Whether I peak at Savannah or not, I know the time is very soon when I will be able to earn a few more personal records.

  • My training is balanced, pushing just the right amount.
  • I am eating healthier than ever.
  • And, most importantly, I am enjoying my training.

When I am not enjoying it, I change it up.

Remember This:

Enjoying the run comes first!
It is more important than progress and personal records.

 ______________________________

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

_______________________________________________________

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Boston 2014: My Race Report

I was aiming to finish the 2014 Boston Marathon in about 3 hours.  It took me almost 2 hours longer than expected.  My nerves got the best of me.  It was my first Boston.  I was so excited and nervous that I made a few rookie mistakes.  Most of them revolve around my usual routine.  If your routine gets you to Boston, keep following it!

The Mistakes

The mistakes have nothing to do with training or my race plan.  I was well-trained and had a solid plan.  I boston 2014 runningfollowed the plan almost exactly for the first 5 miles.  a 6:40 pace almost exactly.  This is what I had trained for.  It was the right strategy.

Then the bottom fell out.  I was gradually getting weaker and my top pace was slowing.  I tried to slow things down for a bit and then level out to a 7:00 pace, but that quickly fell by the wayside.  I was getting weaker.  This is how the last 6 miles of a marathon feels when I am doing well, but this struggle was not at mile 20 or 21.  No, this was mile 6.  And I was getting weaker at a much more quickly than I would at the end of a good marathon.  Something was very wrong and I knew it.

By mile 8, I had gone from Goal A (3 hours), to Goal B (3:05), to Goal C (3:25), but I had to give that up too.  No, the rest of the race would be about survival.  It was time to move to Goal D: finish the race without an injury.  By the last mile, I was struggling hard to get a 15 minute pace.

My mistakes were made before I ever left the hotel room to go to the starting line.  First, I didn’t eat carefully enough for the month before the race.  I have a gluten intolerance and I was “glutened” at a restaurant about 3 weeks before Boston.  I had mostly recovered but I was not 100% going in to race day.  Second, I drank Gatorade for a couple of days before the race.  Good for electrolyte loading, bad for carb loading.  The sugar spikes your metabolism and causes you to deplete your carb supplies.  Rookie mistake.  Got nervous and forgot my own rule: stick with the routine that is working.  The third mistake probably had the biggest effect.  I forgot to take my electrolyte supplements with me to the start line.  Everyone has their own level of need for electrolytes.  My need is much higher than the average person.  I did not even think about this until I was struggling in mile 6.  I am a coach.  I blog about these things.  I teach these lessons.  I am more embarrassed than disappointed.  I knew better on all three counts, but my nerves got the best of me.  Not going to happen next year!

The Positives

Even though I struggled hard for over 20 miles, there are a lot of positives in this experience too.  First, the race is extremely well-organized and extremely secure.  The Boston Marathon is a class act and the runners are all class acts as well.  The whole environment was uplifting.

Cheering fans lined every step of the course, all 26.2 miles of it.  There was no break.  The support was overwhelming and I was thankful for it.  Whenever I got too down on myself for my errors, I just looked over at the side, waved my hands a little, and the crowd went wild.  Awesome support.

This is the year after the bombings.  At every moment in the entire experience, we were safe.  A guardian angel from law enforcement and/or our armed services was there watching like hawks.  It wasn’t just the course.  There was a wide perimeter of security around the entire towns of Hopkinton, Boston, and every town between.

Did the terrorists scare the crowd away?  No.  The crowd was double the usual number.
Did the terrorists scare the runners away?  No.  The crowd of runners was MUCH larger than last year.
Were the crowd and runners focused on a possible bombing?  No.  We thought about it, but the security blanket offered by the law enforcement agencies was enough to let us focus on excellence and fun.

Boston 2014 with MunaLast but not least among the positives was the presence of my wife, Muna.  Muna is a running coach, too.  She hasn’t run Boston yet, but she is really close to qualifying.  It will happen.  Even though she ran a 19-miler on Sunday, she was not there as a coach or a runner.  She came to support me.  She stood by me and tried to calm me down before.  She was there encouraging me after.  Muna knew what my expected time was and she saw the reports of my progress throughout.  She knew I was struggling.  She knew I was getting worse as I went.  I had two extra hours of struggle during the race.  Muna had 2 extra hours of worrying about what might be wrong.  Then she had to wait as the medical support got my electrolytes back to a stable range.  She took care of me.  Despite the enormously positive experience with the people of Boston and their marathon, Muna was my biggest positive of the race.  Thank you, Muna.

How Do I Feel About My Race?

boston and Knoxville

My first marathon was the Knoxville Marathon in 2010. My first Boston Marathon was in 2014. Both were slow and painful. These are the ones that mean the most.

If this had been a goal race, my bad day would have been much more devastating.  To be sure, I am disappointed.   I am embarrassed by my rookie mistakes.  But it was not a goal race.  Even though I trained for the distance, the focus of my training is presently on shorter races: the 800 meters and mile.  No, it was not a goal race.  It was a victory lap.  It was a victory lap for the 4.5 years it took to go from novice to Boston.  Hence, it was not as devastating as it could have been, because I still have that progress.  I have still qualified for Boston 3 times over the last two years.

Looking ahead, I am determined to come back next year and get a sub-3 hour marathon at Boston.  I have been inching closer to sub-3 for a couple of years now.  I will take another shot at it in Savannah in November, but most of my training will still be focussing on the short races.  After Savannah, I will turn my attention to Boston without being distracted by the short races.  I will follow my safe routine.  I will bring my electrolytes.  I will conquer the Boston Marathon.  I always return to the site of a bad run to conquer it as soon as I can.

The Boston Marathon is a great race with awesome runners, and super fans.

I just had a bad day.

I shall return.

_____________

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

– P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Getting Into the Best Shape of My Life

A few months ago I set a few Unreasonable Running Goals that are even faster than I ran back in the day.  Among other unreasonable goals, I want to run 800 meters in 1:58.

My goal is overarching goal is to reach some of the same benchmarks that I reached back in my prime.  I have been working towards this goals for several years.  I am not competing with anyone else.  I am competing with myself.  I am working towards being in the best shape of my life.

At my first athletic peak…

  • I consistently ran 1600 meter races (about a mile) in 4:45.
  • I ran 3200 meters in 10:17.
  • I ran a half marathon in 1:20:48.
  • I could bench press 150% of my weight.

I thought I would be a great marathoner by the time I hit 21 or 22 years old, but I got sidetracked with an injury that wouldn’t go away.  I could not run on a regular basis.

I have worked hard in the last several years.  I have also worked smart.  I learned as much as I could about running and applied everything that made sense.  I have faced a few bouts of injury and illness, but I have made good progress.

Unfortunately, in my 6 month illness due to gluten sensitivity, I had become quite weak.  I thought my long distance muscles were fine since I was still getting faster.  I learned recently that this is not the case.  Even though I can run fast, my legs were weak.  I just had no idea because I had not challenged them.  Without noticing, I had stopped doing things that required strength.

This was revealed to me about a month ago when I was challenged by Muna to cross-train more, to build more strength to support the running muscles.  I had been resisting this idea for quite some time.  I was putting everything I had into running.  I had some soreness in my legs most of the time.  I loved my run training and racing, but it was taking everything I had.  How could I ask my body for more?

I tried a little weightlifting and injured my knees in the first week.  I had only used weights that I thought were quite small.  I had been running and doing push-ups and pull-ups on a regular basis, so I thought I was at least okay with tiny weights.  No.  I should have started the exercises with no weights and gradually added a few pounds at a time.

Even though the injury was caused by weightlifting and not running, I was able to lift weights but not able to run for the month of December.  I used that dilemma to begin cross-training hard.  I lifted weights.  I swam several miles each week.  After a couple of weeks, I was able to work on the elliptical machine.  At that point, I was also able to do more and more leg exercises.  Throughout December, I challenged every part of my body to get a little stronger.  I started moving towards a more balanced fitness.

Yesterday, I reached a milestone.  It was both exciting and humbling:  I bench-pressed my own weight.  For some, this may sound like quite an accomplishment.  For me, it is a huge slice of humble pie. It felt like starting over.  I was the 98 pound weakling from Jr High all over again.   I am nowhere near the best shape of my life in terms of strength, but I am improving.  I will get there.

This season of injury has given me the chance to have the rest of my body catch up with my running mechanisms.

  • I want to be a more balanced athlete.
  • I want to be strong, but not big.
  • I want to run even faster.
  • I want to jump high.
  • I want to remain injury free and enjoy the ride.

Over the last several years I have set many goals.  Some goals I have exceeded.  Some goals I have failed to meet over and over.

Greatness is not determined by how fast you run.  Its training.  Doing what others are unwilling to do.  Failing, failing, and eventually succeeding.

I know that persistence makes champions, so I keep trying.

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

How to Make an Effective New Year’s Resolution (Goal)

wise running logo 7_25_122014 is a new year;
don’t make the same old resolutions. 

Change your mind.
Change your life.

The most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight and exercise more.  Unfortunately, those two resolutions usually fade off into the land of broken promises by the time February rolls around.  These two resolutions are well-intended but doomed to failure for several reasons.

A resolution must be a goal.  To be an effective goal, it must be specific, measurable, and have a timeline.

Remember This

If you aim for nothing, you will surely achieve your goal!

Bad Resolution 1 – “This year I will lose weight.”

Problems:

    • What will you do to lose weight?
    • How much weight?
    • When?

Improved Resolution 1 - “This year I will lose 3 pounds each month by drinking water instead of my usual soda.”

Bad Resolution 2  – “This year I will get exercise more.”

Problems:

    • What kind of exercise?
    • How much?
    • When?
    • Will you do it all at once or gradually add more time/distance/reps/classes?

Improved Resolution 2  – “This year I will do at least 1 hour sessions of cardio exercise three times each week.  I will start in January with 1 group fitness course and gradually add courses, reaching 3 courses per week by July.”

Remember This

If you can’t say why a change is important to accomplish,
then your efforts are wasted and may even be dangerous!

Bad Resolution 3 –  “This year I will increase my weekly mileage.”

Problems:

  • Why? How will it help?
  • How much mileage is helpful and beneficial for your fitness and goals?
  • Will you make gradually increases or big jumps?
  • When?

Improved Resolution 3 - “This year I will increase my weekly mileage from 20 miles each week to abut 35 in preparation for marathons.  I will track this during my spring and fall marathon training schedules, which will gradually increase weekly mileage by ten percent or less.  My mileage will be lower in the weeks between training schedules.”

Yes, this last one got pretty specific, but there is a reason.  It gives enough specifics to know what to do, when to do it, and how to know if you are accomplishing the goal.  It also allows for time to rest the legs a bit and rekindle the love for running.

Remember This

A resolution that is a burden physically or emotionally is unlikely to be kept.
A resolution kept should improve your quality of life.

 

As for me, here is my very specific resolution for 2014:

I resolve to decrease my running mileage from 40 down to 20 per week while increasing my weekly time spent on cardio exercise and strength training until it reach 10 hours.

  • I will gradually move my cardio time (including running) from 5.5 to 8.5 hours per week increasing the weekly total by 15 minutes each week until it is accomplished.
  • My running time has already dropped due to injury, so the goal will be to gradually increase this time by about 10 minutes per week, until I reach 3 hours again.
  • I will include at least three strength training sessions each week, a minimum of 30 minutes each.
  • The remainder of the cardio time will be achieved through a balance of swimming and cycling.

I could make a resolution about eating more veggies, but this is my constant battle.  Every year.  Every week. Every day.  :)

Final Thoughts…

Make resolutions you are willing to stick with for at least 3 years.
If you are not willing to go 3 years, then you will not last 3 months.

Will power and motivation, as most people understand them,
are emotions that do not stay constant.
Resolve and determination are there no matter how you feel.
Base your fitness decisions on them and you will march on to your goals.

2014 is a new year; 
don’t make the same old resolutions. 
Change your mind.
Change your life.

_____________

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Looking Back and Moving Forward: A Reflection on My Training

 Howdy, Friends!

It has been another interesting year in my training. I say training, because this year I added more cross-training.  Don’t worry, running is my first love and will remain my focus.

Looking Back

To put 2013 in context, it helps to remember where I have come from.  In late 2009, I started to run consistently for the first time since 1985.  I ran a half marathon that fall and a marathon the spring of 2010.  I was not competitive.  I was just happy to finish my races at that point.

I gradually learned the basics of how to train for running, gradually became more disciplined, and gradually moved towards being competitive.   By the fall of 2011, I just missed the qualifying time for Boston (for my age) by 2 minutes and 27 seconds.

I had glorious goals set for 2012 that made sense based on my recent progress, but I began to feel weakly just weeks before the Knoxville Marathon.  I started reasonably well, but could not finish that race.  That was April.  I remained sickly while the doctors guessed at what might be wrong.  I completed races and some training, but I did not find the answer until September.  After half of a year of guesswork, I changed to a gluten-free diet.  Problem solved.  I qualified for Boston with a time of 3:22:44 just 6 weeks after eliminating gluten from my diet.  I had expected be sub-3 in 2012, but after the illness I was just happy to finish a tiny bit faster and get the BQ.  (Boston Qualifier)

At the beginning of 2013, I decided not to write down a long set of specific goals.  2012 had taught me that I should be satisfied doing the best that I can in any given circumstance.  Here is what I said:

“I will continue my quest to run a sub-6:00 mile pace at every distance up to and including the marathon. I cannot possibly achieve that pace in the marathon in 2013, but I would like to run under 2:50:00 in a marathon by the end of this year.

I believe that I can achieve the sub-6 pace in the 10K for sure and possibly for the half marathon. I also think I have an excellent shot at running a sub-5:00 mile this year, but I need to find a few more 1 mile races.”

Progress in 2013

I started 2013 with a bang.  On New Year’s Day I ran a 5K in 18:35, just slightly faster than a 6 minute pace.

In February, I managed to whittle my half-marathon time down to 1:27:42.  [6:41 pace]

In March, I ran the Shamrock Marathon in 3:13:22.  I would have liked to have gone under 3:10, but I have no regrets.  I gave it all and enjoyed the run.

dash (2)

There were several races that I did not consider to be goal races.  I ran them to score points for our racing team.  I aimed for age group awards and did fairly well despite not training specifically for them.  This was the first year I had been on a running team beyond high school.  I enjoyed being a part of the Tennessee Spine Racing Team.  Good people.  Running with teammates during races helped my motivation greatly.

Although nowhere near my goal of a sub-6 pace, I did well in my age group in the Expo 10K.  I had been doing a lot of speed work and it showed up in the last mile.  Zoom!

My next goal race was the Fireball 5K on July 3rd.  Although my time of 18:48 was 13 seconds slower than my race on New Year’s Day, I still considered it to be great progress.  It was 70 degrees and rainy, so it was probably the equivalent of 18:20 in perfect weather. Context matters.  Weather affects your running ability.  I did well.

I had a lot of fun at the three summer track meets.  I ran 800m, 1 mile and 2 miles, as well as doing some relays with my friends.  In the heat of the summer, I ran 800 meters in 2:22.9, 1 mile in 5:20.7, and 2 miles in 11:56.  I loved it. 

I continued to play with speed throughout the summer and into early fall.  I added just enough distance to be ready to run the Indianapolis Marathon.  I did not plan my training schedule around this marathon, but I still managed a slight improvement at 3:12:45.

A few weeks later, I ran the Savannah Marathon with my new wife, Muna.  We eloped on the way to the race. I paced her and she earned a huge PR at 3:52:25.   Win-Win!

My last goal race of the year was the Secret City Half Marathon.  Unfortunately, I injured my knees slightly in a weightlifting session a week or so before the race.  I held back a little, but still managed to defend my Masters title, finishing in 1:28:18.

I have spent the month of December crosstraining and building my leg muscles while my knees recuperate.  I have run less than 10 miles in December of 2013. I have kept up my fitness by swimming several miles each week and began to bike some as well.

In addition to training and racing, I also managed to publish my second book, Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life.  As with my first book, I don’t make much money on each copy; the goal is to help people.

As a running coach, I developed training plans for several people and continue to see good results.  I love to be a part of it as runners move towards their goals!

On to 2014

In 2014, I will continue my quest towards running a sub-6 minute pace at distances up to a marathon.  Whatever progress I make will make me happy.  2013 saw me run sub-6 pace at 1 mile, 2 miles, and 5K.  I hope to add 10K to that and will once again try to get closer to 6:00 pace in the half-marathon.

2014 will also be the beginning of my triathlon career.  I have found a love for swimming and I need to bike to strengthen my knees.  Hence, training for a few triathlons this year will help my running.

Finally, all of my training will go to support my newest goal.  I want to run 800 meters in 1:58:00 or better.  I do not believe that I can get there this year.  2:10 or better would be a reasonable goal, but I will take what I can get.

Above all, my main goals are what I wish for you this year:

“Train Smart, Eat Well, & Enjoy the Run!” 

Thanks for your support this year. Let me know if you have questions about running!

Your friend,

P. Mark Taylor

My Unreasonable Running Goals for the Next 5 Years (don’t judge me)

These are running goals I would like to accomplish within 5 years.

No, they are not reasonable for my current level of fitness.

This is my dream.

Encourage me or keep it to yourself.

Thanks,

P. Mark Taylor

Distance  

Goal Time

   Why

400 meters

0:54

   Training for the 800

800 meters

1:58

   US record for 50-54 age group

Mile

4:29

   Because it is faster than 4:30  ;)

5K

15:12

   Training for 1/2

10K

31:35

   Training for 1/2

½ Marathon   

1:10:25

   This is my main goal.

Marathon

Sub 3

   At Boston.  Pride mostly.  :)

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life (2nd book)

Wise Running Book 2 is now available via in paperback and e-book. 

Wise Running Book COVER mockup

Wise Running is the follow-up to P. Mark Taylor’s first book on running: The Gift of Running.  While the first book focused more on getting started as a runner, this second book is more about how to move to the next level. P. Mark Taylor tells us how to think about running in ways that will help you be more consistent and improve.

Running is a great metaphor for life. It takes effort. It takes motivation. You have to stay healthy. If you stick with it long
enough and smart enough, you live a more rewarding life. So it is with running.

In Wise Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

The ebook includes:

  • goals, fitness, & health
  • how to think about training
  • designing a race and training schedule
  • aligning your efforts with reality
  • eating for health and fitness
  • a runner’s view on special diets
  • running-specific nutrition, including marathon nutrition
  • the effects of heat and humidity
  • the social aspect of running
  • motivation and encouragement

________________

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

 

Slaying the Specter of a Bad Run

I had a horrible run yesterday and it was killing me.  Not during the run, mind you, but after the run.  During the run I was merely overtired and dehydrated.  That was bad enough, but this bad run was hanging over my head… calling me names…taunting…telling me that I was not good enough.  The hills were huge.  As I remembered the contours of each hill, they seemed to come alive, grimacing and laughing at me.

cross country shoesHow can one run haunt me so much so quickly?  Probably because I have chosen some lofty goals and a short timeline.  With all of that pressure, I had no time for a bad run.  Bad runs, however, are inevitable.  We can’t control all of the things that life throws at us and we are certainly prone to making mistakes.   Logically, this was not the end of the world, but it felt like it.

How did I slay the specter of the bad run?  I rested up for a day, I was well-fueled and hydrated, I set a realistic goal for today’s run, AND… most importantly, I set the course for today’s run in the toughest part of yesterday’s run.

I looked those grimacing hills straight in the eyes and shouted, “NO!  You will not win. I may not be as fast as I want to be, but I am on my way.  You will not win. ”

I did not set any new records today, but I did run a reasonably good time for course and conditions.  I faced the specter of doubt cast upon me by yesterday’s fiasco.

Tomorrow looks pretty darn good.

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

_____________

Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

 

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

Wise Running: Fighting the Complacency Monster

 

 

I am 46 years old and I just ran a 5:25 mile on slight rolling hills.

That’s pretty good, right?

How did I feel after the race?

Like somebody just shot my dog.  I felt horrible.

What is wrong with my perspective? 

The short answer is that I am fighting the complacency monster.  I would like to blame my performance today on my gluten intolerance issues, but that was not it.  Physically, I was capable of running a 5:15 mile today.  The problem was mental.  The problem was the complacency monster.  The problem was me.

dash (2)

What started me down this path to complacency?  I set high goals and didn’t come anywhere near them.  I have been frustrated for months by little nagging issues with gluten, aches, and pains.  None of them were of a factor at all today, but they did feed the complacency monster in the months leading up to today’s race.  When I planned this year’s training and racing goals, I set my sites on a 5 minute mile.  I have managed to do some pretty good training towards that goal, but not as much as I had planned.  Minor gluten issues periodically kept holding me back from getting as much training as I needed to accomplish that goal.  Gluten was not a factor at all today.  It does not excuse today’s complacency.  It just set me up for it.

I did the smart thing and restructured my goals for today’s race.  I originally wanted a 5 minute mile.  After everything that happened this summer, I decided that finishing between 5:10 and 5:15 would be very good for the circumstances.  With that mindset, I started today’s race exactly the way I should have.  I settled in behind the leaders that were aiming around 5:00.  As I crossed the halfway point, I was still in good enough shape to finish at 5:15 if I had just kicked it up a notch.  But I didn’t.  I kept a comfortable pace and managed to average a 5:25 mile pace and the 3/4 mile mark.  I rationalized that I was saving up for a strong last 1/4 mile.  This would have been practical.  My training and racing this summer told me that I am fully capable of shaving 10 seconds off in the last 1/4 mile.  I can do that.  I could have done it today.  I didn’t.  I was complacent.

What happened?  I could have met my restructured goal of 5:15 by pushing hard in the 1/4 mile.  I was not too tired/fatigued.  Why did I not follow through?  I was complacent.  I looked ahead and decided who I could catch if I kicked it into high gear.  I did not do it.  Why did I not follow through?  I was complacent.  Why?

I smiled and congratulated my fellow runners.  I cheered for Muna as she beat her goal by ten seconds.  I talked to friends.  In the back of my mind, however, I was busy beating myself up for not following through, for not sprinting the last 1/4 mile.  Why did I not do it?  Why did I settle for less than my best effort?  Why was I complacent?  I was tortured.

I volunteered to clean up after the race, so I stayed around and helped out.  I kept smiling when I could, but… I was tortured.  Why was I complacent?  Why did I settle for less than my best?

The Underlying Problem

It took me a while to sort it out.  I drove home, got some food, took a shower… Finally it hit me; it hit me hard.  It did not feel like it was worth an all-out effort to run a 5:15 mile because it was 15 seconds slower than what I had originally planned.  I didn’t want a 5:15.  I wanted a 5:00.  I know it sounds crazy to most people, but a 5:15 mile would not have felt like an accomplishment.  It would have felt like a failure.  Why would I put that much effort into a failing cause?

This is what happened:  I had mentally chosen a 5:15 goal, but emotionally I was holding on to the 5:00 dream.  My heart was not willing to push incredibly hard just to get  5:15 and feel inadequate anyway.

This explains the why, but it is definitely not a healthy mindset.  Giving less than your best in a goal race is not acceptable, even if you will fall short of your original goal.  If I had understood what was going on, perhaps I could have given myself the “”Suck it up, Buttercup!” speech and pushed through to that 5:15.  Hindsight is 20/20.  I did not have access to that info during the race.  I had to analyze for a while to understand the source.

Remember This:

Complacency is often rooted in fear of failure. 
As with all fears, the only way to get over it is to face your fear head-on.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.

I was not afraid of failing to achieve 5:15.  I was afraid to work that hard and still be 15 seconds shy of the goal that my heart was set on.

At least I now understand what happened.  Now I can deal with it.  I can learn from it and become a wiser runner.  :)

I will fight complacency:

  • by recognizing it,
  • by acknowledging the underlying problem, and
  • by running with passion regardless of the expected outcome.

 

On the Bright Side

The good news is this:  I can have a flat, unmotivated race and still run a 5:25 mile.

I am still fast.  Not as fast as I wanted to be, but faster than I was last year.

I am still making progress.

There is reason to celebrate.

Ice cream for everyone!

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Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

P. Mark Taylor

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Muna’s Fitness Forum: Start Where You Are

Every BODY is different.  There, I said it.  We are all built differently.  The funny thing is that even though all of our bodies are so different, we want to look like the models or actresses on TV.  I, for example, would love to have the body of Pink.  But here’s something I know….. it is never gonna  happen! That is because my body is built differently.

As I venture further into my journey of becoming an ironwoman, I notice more and more how my body is different.  I don’t have the long, lean physique of so many fast runners.  I don’t have the small stature of so many famous cyclists.  I don’t have the long thick muscles with impeccable shoulders like many great swimmers.  I don’t have the small waist like many group fitness instructors.  But yet I have proven that I can become faster, more efficient, and stronger.  It has taken me many years to appreciate my short, stalky legs and learn to use them to my advantage.  I put heavy weights on them during squats and lunges.  I pile on my resistance during cycle class, and I put my risers up during step class. My motto is “Charge the Hills!” I gain momentum on the hills during runs and races.   I now love my legs! They make me strong and carry me for miles and miles.  They allow me to keep up with my daughter and run when she asks me to run with her (even the day after a marathon or long race).

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So today, when I got in the pool for my first of many swimming lessons, I found out that my legs were actually slowing me down in the water.  What?!?! My Powerhouse? Slowing me down?  Yes.  Oliver, my new swim coach, pointed it out immediately.  My legs are kicking, but not in the direction they needed to be kicking.  So when he tried to show me how to position my feet, they wouldn’t even go there.  No flexibility.  Then he put flippers on me.  I felt like Scuba Steve!  As I began using the kickboard and doing as he instructed, I went forward then stopped, then backwards.  That’s when he said I was doing it the wrong way again.  My legs had actually been fighting against my swim all this time.  NO WONDER IT TOOK ME 50 MINUTES TO SWIM 1500M!  I was pulling with my arms, but going the other way with my legs.  Sigh…..

I’ve been grounded.  I am not allowed to swim freestyle until he tells me.  This hurts my extremist fashion.  I know what my problem is, so I just wanna jump in the pool and fix it.  Nope.  Not allowed.  I’m only allowed to kick, using a kickboard.  Grrrrr! Coach Oliver had that look when he told me too.  He knew it would kill me.  He told me that we would nail the kick, and then we will get into the arms and rotations.

Ok, I can deal with that.

Remember This:

Every BODY is different, so we start at different levels. 

Start where you are and seek to improve.

I tell my members and clients that it’s ok not to start out being good at something, and that it’s best to learn the basic steps before jumping in to the advanced choreography.  In my step aerobics routines I give breakdowns and levels.  I see it with my steppers, they WANT to do the level 3 right away instead of mastering level 1 and 2 first.  Its instinct and we all want to do it.  This lesson has reinforced to me that level 1 and level 2 are very important!  Learn the proper form before doing any exercise! Otherwise, you are training the muscle or the body incorrectly.

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

Muna Rodriguez

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