Thursday, August 15, 2019

Running - Doing it My Way


The comparison game is a bunch of crock.

I think we've all played it to some extent (at least I know I have). We've played this stupid game as women, as moms, as friends, as community volunteers, as wives, and as athletes. It does us no good. And, quite frankly, I'm done with it.

 Enter the genre of running and it can get especially tricky. It's really quite ridiculous, after all, to compare one's running abilities, objectives or standards to those of others. After all, we have different genetic makeup, varying degrees of "free" time (for training), and we all are driven by different stimuli.

I have long contemplated where I fit in within the sport of running, and I have tried to be a "real runner." It's only in recent years that I finally realized we all define "real runner" by our own individual goals and aspirations. And, finally, in recent years, I have achieved true contentment with MY running.


Here are some of MY key running "things" that I have made peace with (and some of these are in sharp contrast to what I see on social media):

Low mileage is my gig. Simply put, high mileage does not work for me.  Indeed, it is a nice surprise when the big numbers happen all on their own, especially when I haven't risked injury to experience those very miles. I just know for me, though, I do much better with low mileage. I don't know if I'm just blessed with a body that does not need excessive mileage to prepare for a race, or if I'm just injury-prone (and suffer if I run too much). I do know that the few times I have tried high-mileage training for a big race, I have toed the start line in an already injured state from over-training, and those big races were near disasters.

I'm not PR driven. Of course, I love a shiny, new PR as much as the next person. Having run for 14 years,  though, the newness of the sport has worn off and (up until this past year) I had been riding a long-standing plateau. Please, don't feel sorry for me. I had not necessarily gotten slower, but it had gotten increasingly more difficult to run "faster" without putting in a lot more hard work than when I had first started. I respect that some runners thrive on that kind of a conquest, but I was able to move beyond that. Despite my recent successes, I simply don't need those PR's to validate myself as a legit runner anymore (but I do welcome them, with open arms, on the rare days when all the stars, moons, and planets align).
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I do not have gadget OCD. I seldom wear my watch for training runs (unless I'm actually trying to hit specific paces for speed drills). I am very familiar with the routes I run, and my pace is pretty consistent (another byproduct of 14+ years of running)...I can head out on a 3-mile route and run it with an approximate 8:45 pace without really thinking about it. I can also run an easy-paced  #5at5 (five miles at 05:00) in a near-perfect 50:05 minutes. So what if I'm not exact on my splits? Maybe I'd rather enjoy the scenery instead of focusing on the stats on my wrist.
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I do not obsess over the stats of others. It's not that I'm envious (well, not much LOL), but I seldom look at the pace/miles/distance stamped across the selfies on social media. Again, it's the comparison thing. I realize some are motivated and inspired by seeing how far other runners are running and exactly how fast (or slow?) they're doing it.....but why? Are they running the exact same route as you? Did they get as little (or as much) sleep as you did the night before? Is their weather as hot (or cold) as yours? Are they the same height as you, with the exact same stride length? Are they following the same training plan?

I prefer my long runs to be on Saturdays. That's right, I'm one of the few that does not do the Sunday-Runday thing. I do short, shakeout runs (frequently) on Sunday, but I prefer to do the bulk of my weekend running on Saturday and have Sunday as my focused "day of rest."

I love doing races of all distances instead of focusing on one specific goal race. What can I say? Variety is the spice of my running life. Maybe that's why I went a long time without any new PR's happening  - because I wasn't actually training for them (LOL). One time, I had a friend tell me that if they were gonna spend the money on a race, they were gonna "make it worthwhile" and run that race hard. Hmmmm. I'd rather focus on the race experience itself and not so much on my finish time. Bottom line, neither of us were wasting our money; we simply both had very different goals.


So, there you go...just some random thoughts on this journey of mine in my running shoes. One thing that sets the sport of running apart from others is that we all get to do it OUR way. Sure, many of us train with friends, and compete (in a friendly manner) among one another...but most of us have our own preferences and unique abilities. Instead of idolizing the achievements of others, why not celebrate your own accomplishments?

Talk to me...Have  you ever found yourself trapped in the comparison game? Have you ever tried to follow another runner's customized training plan, but had disastrous results? Low mileage or high mileage? What's your race day preference - fast racing or enjoying-the-moment running?

**This is an updated edition of a previous post (I'm Content, published February 2018)**

I'm linking this with Meranda and Lacey for the Friday with Fairytales and Fitness link-up. 

 

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19 comments:

  1. Amen sister! All that any of us can do is to be ourselves because everyone else is taken. It's impressive if you run 100 miles a week at 5 minute pace and it's impressive if you don't run at all. This spring I got into a trap of every race having to be a PR and it backfired. After taking the summer off from racing I'm really looking forward to getting back out there and racing for fun. Saturday long runs are where it's at! Right now I run 6 days a week 25-30 miles but who can say whether that's low mileage or high? Let's put it this way, I don't run a single mile that I don't want to run.

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    1. High-5!! It took me a long time to realize that I didn't have to run everyday or "race" every race to be a real runner. I'm sincerely glad that works for some people, but I ain't one of them LOL

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  2. I am also a low mileage runner. I get injured too easily and it's just not worth it. I will never be wining any age group placements. I have never been fast and that's okay by me. I have come to just appreciate the the ability to get out there and run

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    1. Exactly!! Being sidelined reinforced how much I simply loved running, whether I was going "fast" or "slow." Even in compromised temps (cold weather for me, but probably hot weather for anyone else LOL)...if I can got outside and move, I'm good.

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  3. Beautiful and interesting post. Now I have a different vision of running, and this because I am almost 63, so my only goal is running injury free and racing when I can. In the past my monthly mileage was 240 km (150 ml), the PRs were not so important, I wore watch also during the workouts to maintain the pace, sometimes theere was the competition with other runners, my long runs were on sunday when the car traffic was less and I did races of all distances (from 5 km to marathon).

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    1. I think a lot of us change our visions as we get more experience with the sport. We figure out what works for us and what doesn't, and out priorities change.

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  4. I would love to have a conversation about this topic with you in person because I love everything that you have to say here. I use to take running more seriously than I do now but I can honestly say I've never got caught up in the comparison game. Ever since you made that one comment about " Why spend more hours on a sport that already gives so much joy on its own" , or something like that, that is what I always think about. I am not ashamed to say I am now a "jogger" and I enjoy it. And guess what, I've started training again ( and keeping a journal) and I havent even shared it on social media ( gasp😮). Not sure if that counts as even happening, does it?...haha. Keep up the good work Kim and you do YOU! -M

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  5. I actually know very few runners who run long on Sundays. In fact, if I have to due to circumstances or because the weather looks much better on Sunday, I'm generally on my own. Of course most of my friends still work, so I get it.

    I am totally a gadget gal. It's just my nature -- I love variety, I love trying new things. I like being able to look back & see oh I did this pace a few weeks ago, I feel like I can push that a little.

    Most of my runner friends (not all) are way faster than me. Comparing myself to them would only get frustrating.

    As I often say, I may train for a PR, but I'm well aware that one training cycle won't necessarily get you a PR. Or two, or three. For me, it's more about preparedness. I fall somewhere in between high and low mileage (and even that is subjective) -- I don't have the type of body where I could simply jump into a half with little training -- not and have it be enjoyable.

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    1. I seem to see more runners (at least on social media) doing their long runs on Sunday, which, for me, is just not practical. I've made it work a few times when necessary, but we usually have church services to get to, so that's my priority most weekends.

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  6. Yep, it's difficult not to see all the social media posts and fall into the comparison trap. But I know that doesn't make me happy. I tyr to keep focused on my journey and the things that I enjoy about running :)

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  7. I like races of all distances too. I have never been able to put all my eggs in one basket for the season and just have one goal race. There are too many fun races out there! I know what you mean by comparison, though. Comparing myself to my own former race times is the worst.

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    1. There are too many favorite races (and, yes, most of them are FUN!), so I have never been able to prioritize races within a particular season. The more, the merrier ;-)

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  8. Wow. I published a post on the comparison game a month ago. As I always say, run your own race.

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    1. Well, this is actually a re-written post (from last year), but it's a theme we all need to be reminded of. I not only say "run your own race," but "do your own thing."

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  9. I runfess I've never been motivated or inspired by the run pace/mileage stats someone posts on their social media. I admire the people who keep showing up and doing the work. When I was laying down sub-4 marathons, many of the people I was interacting with socially were gunning for sub-3 so I guess I could've felt inferior, but honestly sub-4 was PLENTY for me. Running has exceeded my wildest expectations and now I'm in a place where I run for health and joy. No comparisons needed for those.

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    1. Total agreement! We all have different goals and lifestyles (and, quite frankly, some of us have a lot more time than others to devote to the cause). We all enjoy running, and we all wear running shoes...but that's where the comparison should end (IMHO).

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  10. I love this. I do sometimes rail against "2015 me" who has all the records for our strava segments but I'm still running and still enjoying it. I do draw power from the fact I've done 4 marathons and an ultra - that helps me feel good when I feel a bit wonky for being so slow. You are super and a real role model - thank you!

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