"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing" - Ben Franklin
It's funny when running a long distance event how many variables enter in the equation of what the final outcome will be. You try to do everything right, or at least you believe you're trying to do everything right, or at least your mind has your body tricked into believing you're doing everything right. You can't hop out of the sack and decide to do a 26, 50, or 100 mile race. It is a real long stretch for anybody, even when you're trained. You have to plan for these things, and the longer the race, the more planning there is to set your head a-spinnin'. When I was doing 24 Hour races, you don't just plan how to RUN the race...you're literally planning for a day-trip with a 100 miles of running thrown in! You have to consider what CHANGES of clothes/shoes to bring to run in (24 hours of weather change + day/night), what real food to eat 'cause 4000 gels just ain't gonna get it, when to rest, how to rest (sit/lie down, tent, sleeping bag), sunglasses, lip balm, and believe me, the list breeds a life of it's own.
There are so many variables that can happen in a race that lasts several hours, that you just have to concentrate on all those things you can hope to control and leave all that other stuff to the heavens. You know, they say in football when you throw a pass, three things can happen, and two of them are bad (incomplete or intercepted). Well, in running, there are a lot more than two unpleasant things that can happen. I won't go into them, but it can range from how you feel in general, the weather, the terrain, and my favorite, the EVER present "What the heck happened". If you've run many of them, like I have, and it doesn't go exactly as I had planned, I can pretty much feel bad, shrug it off, and "go back to the drawing board".
Sometimes it's pretty obvious what went wrong and too many times for me, it falls into the "that was a stupid rookie mistake" category. But, sometimes, you feel like you didn't stray from the straight and narrow, and everything comes crashing down. Was it something I did...didn't do? Like I just said...you go back to the drawing board and that's where a diary, or training log, comes in handy. After the glow (or anti-glow), of the race begins to wear off, you can review your training and try to figure out if there were any bumps in the road that could have been avoided. There have been several races in my past that when I looked back at my preparation, it looks like I fell out of the Stupid Tree and hit every branch on the way down! Get somebody you trust to review your preparation with you because you'll have a difficult time seeing through the trees of the (stupid) forest. The more experience with endurance events your friend or coach has, the better, because that person gained his experience by committing all the things he'll tell you not to do.
The body was not built to go over 20 miles, so you better train smart and set your goals in order. Then, decide what you have to do to achieve those goals. Try to look at your training from a distance. If your training didn't produce the results you wanted, how come that happened? Was it an outside influence that you had no control over? Or was it a question of confusing will-power with want-power. Will-power will come into play when you have a good training plan and follow through with that plan. Want-power is when your plan is all over the place because you WANT to reach your goal, so you try everything - speed, distance, races, hills, etc. with no consistent basis except the insecurity of your plan. You should try to simplify a plan so it's easy to follow. Ah, there's the key - following the plan! I have always had a big problem trying to follow a plan that had you do something different every training session - hills, track, tempo, long, recovery. It was just too confusing. Some athletes thrive off this variety, but I have always come back to run for distance and the rest will fall into place.
First, you have to have a plan that's simple enough to guarantee that it will be carried out, and second, you have to believe in that plan, and yourself. Sometimes, I tend to make training a little too simple, but over-training will NEVER get you to your goal. Over-training is running suicide! Training for a marathon is certainly one venue where erring on the side of conservation will heed much better results than beating yourself up with an over-aggressive preparation. Maybe you won't reach your goal (yet), but if your goals are realistic, just review what you did prior to your race, and with a little help (diary, friends, coaches, honest self-evaluation), you'll figure it out.
Over the past couple of years, I have found out that personally, I have to have a goal to create a good training diary. Once injuries drove me away from frequent endurance racing, I simply stopped writing my daily running escapades. Now, you have to realize that I wrote an almost daily note from August 8th, 1978 for about 30 years!. Then my writing got a little spotty, and finally I got tired of writing of daily runs with no forward progression, so I haven't written a word in nearly a year. Now, I look back and realize I have no record of what I have tried...shoes, supplements, stretching, exercises, therapies, Witch Doctors, rest...etc. That makes no sense at all! I don't know what works and what doesn't. Crazy, huh? So, my early New Year's resolution is that I am going to begin to write a (nearly) daily log again...handwritten - no computer. Maybe I'll learn something again about planning my running future by looking into my running past.
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, had some good runs, found some good sales (I found Hokas for 40% off!!), and I'll see you all on the roads - AL
"One child lost is too many...one child saved can change the world"
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