The First Workout

I began a new training cycle this past Monday. Some of it is what I’ve done before, other parts are new.

The first workout of each new training cycle is loaded for sure. It has the power to set the tone for the rest of the workouts, providing confidence or dread with each passing week.

I know that single workouts in themselves are a drop in the bucket. Good workouts happen, bad workouts happen, a single run is not definitive of a race season.

However, it is always the most exciting test in the beginning. I’ve been running mostly easy for the past month, so I’m technically unfit right now (unfit towards my racing goals, not unfit in a health sense).

How will my body and mind handle the new stimulus? 

What will my mindset be tomorrow?

Am I getting enough sleep? (no, I couldn’t fall asleep due to rolling thoughts about a completely different thing)

What happens if I cannot complete the workout?

I find that I structure workouts in the same way I structure races. I have A, B and C goals for them.

My “A” goal is to complete said workout exactly as I planned, no modifications and if I’m feeling good, amp it up at the end.

My “B” goal is to complete the workout with enough intensity to get the training stimulus I need, but not necessarily as long or as fast as I would have ideally gone.

My “C” goal is saved for if I feel sick or bad mentally, and I just start each interval, hold on as long as I can, and then recover as long as I need, and try again.

I guess a “D” goal would be to run easy and recover instead, but then I would switch this workout with an easier run later in the week and attempt it again.

I did my first workout Thursday morning and it went statistically perfect. I completed the mileage and intensity of the workout and finished feeling tired, but all there mentally.

I know this workout does not mean I will have a fantastic racing season, but it sure as hell makes me excited for my next run.

Running in 2017

Goals: I hate the concept of goals, because I never know what life will throw at me. There are certain things outside of my control which will influence how the next racing season will go. Rather than goals or aspirations, I am training in a different way. I am keeping the following list on my radar this year, not to accomplish or check off, but to remember throughout the season regardless of how my races go.

I will improve as a runner if I work on these things even if I get last in every race, DNF, DNS or get slower.

1.) Embrace pain, acknowledge it is with me, treat it as a companion

I will choose to embrace the discomfort that running can bring. Sure, it would be nice for every run to feel like Christmas, but that is both unrealistic and will not prepare me for the pain of racing. Rather than fight through the pain, as I’ve often done in the past, this year I will focus on getting used to pain as a companion.

2.) Work on my nutrition

I have started working with a sports nutritionist for this next season. Ultrarunning is a new beast for me. I cannot, excuse my French, but I cannot fuck around anymore. I’m at the point where I cannot make it through and continue to improve while ignoring my nutrition, both inside and outside of races. This is a necessary step to get better.

3.) Focus on the 99%

That one workout, that one pair of shoes, small things that really mean nothing have lived in my memory when I trained for races last year. Really, that last 1% of things are useless. My focus in 2017 will be working on the less exciting things that make up the bulk of my fitness: base mileage, recovery, eating well, spending my free time in a relaxing way. The 99% is always more important than the fluff. There is no miracle or secret in running for me, I just gotta do it.

4.) Be curious instead of scared

Sometimes, when I see workouts on the schedule that look tough or impossible, I get anxious and scared to do them. This year I will look at tough workouts or races with a level of wonder and curiosity. I want to see how my body will respond to this workout or that many miles. Thinking of it like that means there is no failure. I will learn more about my body and what it can handle at this point. Instead of getting anxious, I will focus on trying my best and leaving it there. It might hurt, but well, see #1

I have a lot of plans. I have a lot of dreams.

Time to put them into action.

Here’s to 2017.