Some people read newspapers back to front and I think my approach to training is perhaps similarly contrary. Running is something I do for my overall wellbeing – exercise I have come to later in life that combines many things I find uplifting – being outdoors, watching the weather, observing nature and spending time with friends.
I acknowledge now that I am mildly addicted to running, getting a bit twitchy and irritable if I have not managed to get out for a run, so regular social runs are a comforting constant to keep the twitching at bay. And as my running confidence has increased it’s easier to find ways to slot running around the rest of my life, with being a run tourist one of my favourite ways to discover new places.
So if running is mostly about looking after myself, and offsetting life’s stresses, I wonder why I keep entering races?
I don’t really know the answer to that, and writing this a day before a race is maybe not the best time to come up with a considered analysis! For some people running is the perfect outlet for their competitive spirit, but I don’t see me fitting in that category – my desire to win is underdeveloped – although I do like to set myself personal goals and challenges.
While I long to be more ‘zen’ about running and its place in a quest for self improvement, I do enjoy keeping a tally of distance covered, pace and effort. Running has unlocked my inner geek around lists and records and the joy of seeing the miles increase on my Nike+ app is something I would struggle to give up.
And maybe a race creates a framework or purpose for this measurement – so while I am not desperate to be first – taking part in races does let me see how I compare to fellow runners and if I have made any progress since the last test.
So back to today and training plans or otherwise. I have never yet properly stuck to a race plan as for whatever reason I am not really very good sticking to a set of prescribed rules to achieve a desired outcome. While I don’t just rock up unprepared, training for races has mostly involved increasing mileage and incorporating this into the runs I have planned with Alison. We are good training buddies. This means I usually get to this point before a race feeling OK about my ability to complete the course but also wondering what might have been achieved if I had made the effort to follow a proper plan rather than just play it by ear.
This year while my run training has not followed a plan as such – I have been following a different plan that has had a positive impact on my running. Having acknowledged that I am not the best at following rules and plans, since July 2015 I have been following an eating plan, and by doing this have lost quite a bit of weight. ( so am around 16 lbs lighter than I was this time last year).
The weight loss and results I have seen by sticking to some simple rules around eating from fitnaturally ( good natural food, not too much) has encouraged me to incorporate some different types of fitness training – and I have been doing some strength and speed work with a colleague from work who is a personal trainer.
The weight loss is making me enjoy my running even more than before and I am feeling in good shape and while I have not yet followed a race training plan to the letter – it definitely feels as if I have put in more effort than before, or addressed some weaknesses.
So why despite all this do I have the usual if not more pre race anxiety this time around ?
I can only put it down to my fear of failure , and back again to why I have mixed feelings about racing. My previous haphazard attempts at training have been replaced by a bit more effort and instead of it giving me confidence it has made me feel I have eliminated my excuses for failure !
Today I am trying to set my expectations and calm my jitters against a different background of possible success – how strange for me !
But fortunately life experience has me prepared and so I am tapping into my collection of the ‘whats the worst that can happen scenarios’ and am sure I will manage to make a kind of peace with myself before the start line.
See you at the other side 🙂