“As a self-proclaimed recovering distance runner”, by Katie Maguire
I grapple each day to disentangle my heart and soul from the paths, seasons, and moments of time that I traveled by foot for so many years of my life. I figure I must be making progress in this process of reconciliation since I am currently back to work – not helping runners of all kinds at the Greater Boston Running Company and thus sleeping, eating, and breathing running.
To that end, I find myself constantly reflecting on a conversation I had with a customer who stopped by the Swampscott store late one evening. He began by asking some specific questions about shoes, various sports foods, and some injury prevention strategies. Ultimately, though, it seems that what he really wanted to…
Understand was what truly makes the difference between running and running better than one ever has before.
We have all been there, an intense desire to set a new personal best and the inevitable plateau to the training process. In as much as we hope to challenge our limitations in reaching the goal, we also challenge our commitment to that goal when faced with all the steps to get there and the uncontrolled variability of what can happen when we actually put ourselves to the test. From years of training and years of set- back I currently believe that it takes three simple things.
1. The first thing it takes is a willingness to run.
Work, family, and friends aside you cannot run if you never tie up your shoes and get out there. Take a look at your week ahead of time to figure out which days are best suited to training. Based on those days, determine whether you want to run in the morning, afternoon or evening and whether your run should be longer or shorter. Remember variety is the spice of life so build some variety into your overall mileage. Instead of running three miles a day try doing 3 one day, 2 another, and 4 or 5 a third. You get the picture. You will strengthen your physical and mental endurance.
2. Fear not the cross training.
Of course running begets running, but taking a day to lift, do drills and stretch can be as beneficial as putting in the extra mileage. Check out these drills from the New York Times Fitness for details and explanations. You will build resiliency by increasing muscle strength. Drills such as skips, high knees, bottom kicks, and straight leg scissor kicks improve running efficiency since the drills improve knee lift and leg turnover.
The drills help to promote injury prevention and simultaneously improve strength and efficiency when you stretch your muscles. To that end yoga provides many appropriate stretches that runners can adopt. And I have to admit I have begun to fall in love with the pool. I started swimming with a masters group at the local Marblehead YMCA and found that I could push myself as hard as I want in the pool without becoming screamingly sore when done. I address my VO2 max to the point that I am tired but not burnt. I have eustress but not distress. Find your source of eustress and embrace it.
3. Finally it takes fun.
Attaining a goal is serious business that requires perseverance and a sense of humor. A willingness to laugh at one-self, to admit to vulnerabilities, to recognize your own fateful humanity will keep you and the others who train with you going regardless of whether everything goes as planned or otherwise. And don’t kid yourself; parents, siblings, friends, loved ones of all kinds train with you regardless of whether they are actually on the same pavement. Embrace life, live it to its fullest. There will be another day, another way to fall in love with your dreams.