Over the past year, since I returned to running, I have learned a lot about myself and my running!
1. Getting Older Still Sucks
I have noticed that my perceived effort while running is a lot more than it used to be. What used to be 6-7 minute mile pace is now 8-9 minute miles.
While I can get back into the faster range once in a while, I can’t train at those levels, which means – yep I am slowing down. Nope you can’t change the physical decline, you can delay and fight it tooth and nail – which is what I am doing.
The mental aspect of aging is one that we have a lot more control over and the old saying “you are as young as you feel”, has a lot of truth in it. This crap of “act your age” that I hear so often when it is said to us older folk is just that crap. That is why I still believe in pushing the limits of what you can do, versus giving up, sitting on the couch and becoming a spectator – I still want to participate and running allows me to do that – just at a different level than in the past.
You can’t change your chronological age, but you can change your attitude, which will impact your quality of life and your running.
No I will not go gently into that sweet goodnight.
2. Long runs are necessary
I have learned that:
- long runs do help your running immensely
- that I am learning to enjoy double-digit runs
Once I started running double-digit runs, my running definitely improved and I noticed that the weight that I wanted to get, came off a lot quicker than it had been. Also they just give you so much confidence for shorter races or runs, you know you can finish them, it just becomes a question of how fast.
3. Rest more often
To be honest, I tend to suck at this one, when I am feeling good, I just want to run. This goes along with number 1 – as I get older, I can still do some things, like I used to, but it takes a lot longer to recover than it used to.
In order to get better, athletes need to incorporate rest into their routines, it is just the way it is.
It seems that I need to take my own advice more often.
4. Trail Running is fun
I have done a lot more trail running this year and have had a blast! I have participated in a few 5K trail races and will do a longer one later this year. Running on trails is so different from running on roads!
When trail running I am present in the moment or I end up going ass over tea kettle (and yes I have done that a few times).
On the trails I focus on the run and not much else, which is a good thing. I just wish that I lived a little closer to different trail heads.
5. Racing isn’t a scary beast
This year instead of putting a lot of needless pressure on myself, I have focused more on enjoying the experience and camaraderie than trying for a certain time and fixating on attempting to meet that goal.
Racing is a part of the social side of running and you get to meet other runners, who might have some of the same interests that you do. This is the biggest thing that I think that I missed over all the years that I didn’t race – meeting other runners and the friendships that I could have enjoyed.
6. Have Fun
The biggest thing that I have learned this year is to have fun when I am running. I attribute that attitude to how far I have come in a short time. Just because I am working hard at my running, does not mean that I can’t have fun while I am doing it. When I tried to follow a running program, where I had to meet certain distances/times, running stopped being fun.
Guess what – I stopped that running program and went back to listening more to my body and running according to that, instead of an artificial plan that doesn’t take into account 1) tiredness 2) injuries 3) age (yes it does matter – unfortunately) 4) actual physical conditioning 5) the joy of running.
Once I did that, I relaxed and went back to having fun with my running, even though I was putting in more than 50 miles a week for a while.
The reality is
That 2012 has been without a doubt the best year I have had running since 1986 and it isn’t over yet. I have raced more and had more fun running this year than I have in too many years. This year has been all about experimenting, finding what really works for me and having fun with running.
I am looking forward what the next year of running brings, what adventures I will have and the new things that I will learn.
What new things have you learned about yourself and your running this past year?