It’s the Reality Check that brought us to take up our chosen sport. It’s
that A-HA moment when we realize we need to do something to better our
health and thus, improving ourselves.
As we begin that athlete-wannabe adventure we continue to have those Reality
Check moments. They can be victorious or they can be “what have I gotten
myself into?” moments.
I believe we never stop nor should we ever stop to wanting nor seeking those
moments in our training. What is working today – most likely, won’t be
working for you tomorrow.
What works for one person may not work for you. The Reality is you must
know yourself and your abilities to know what is and isn’t “you”. Learn to
Train Smarter, Not Just Harder.
This topic is being lightly discussed amongst many running bloggers. I
believe as we move forward in our quest for that PR in our given distance -
we will be looking back or stopping to examine what is within our limits,
both mentally and physically.
What was hard to me a year ago (a mile!) – is nothing more than a light jog
to me, now. After Half Marathon’s, 5K’s and 10k’s – I have learned the most
valuable lessons of them all. Something a trainer can never match.
Pay attention to your body. I am happy to know how to sense my gait, my arm
swing. What is the best warm up for me. I know the pace I need to run for
my slow, recovery and tempo runs. I know me, yet – up until about March – I
didn’t trust what I knew about ME. I trained and ran hard, but I certainly
did not train smart.
While I did not take up long distance running until I was 48 yrs old, I did
have a strong fitness and athletic background. A competitive body builder
and fitness trainer in the 80′s and most recently a Certified Sports
Nutritionist. Being athletic was not new to me, but running was. I quickly
engulfed myself into Twitter and learned some incredible tips, that carried
me through my first Half Marathon.
However, in my quest for that famous PR in a 5K, 10K or Half – I made the
horrible mistake of following the lead of a few athletes who had run several
successful key races. It was my error and my fault.
The mistake is following someone who is a good athlete, but not a Trainer.
A good athlete does not always make a good Trainer or Coach. Think for a
moment – when did Michael Jordan or Troy Aikman coach a successful team?
Who was the most successful football coach of all time? Vince Lombardi.
What were his accomplishments as an athlete?
Being an athlete is one skill
Being a Trainer/Coach is another skill
Rarely, will the same person have both skills
This past Spring I was suffering from several aches and pains in my
groin/hip area. At that time, I went to several people that I ran with, and
my advise was simply to “run it off”
In those same conversations, I was told to run at temp at all times to
ensure I was strong.
In my gut, I knew better – but since these athletes had also run some
successful races in their career, I followed their advise.
A disaster struck in late March – as that constant bad advise caused my hips
to give out on my at Mile 8 on a Half Marathon race. An injury that packed
on serious medical bills, that could have been avoided.
That was my ephiany moment. What I had thought along was true. I had not
been advised nor trained properly, and it was my fault I followed the wrong
advice, for me.
I am now 49 yrs old – how could I possibly expect to train like a 29 or even
a 35 yr old?
After all I read about slow runs, recovery runs and tempo runs – why didn’t
I KNOW not to run at tempo on all runs? Why didn’t I follow the advise of
THOUSANDS of other runners to ensure I was working my core and other parts
of my body? Why did I allow the advise of a few individuals override the
expertise of the running community?
Why? I doubted myself, because I didn’t know myself, well enough.
Now, I do. I don’t train harder, I train smarter.
I have aligned myself with information and with people who can provide me
the information, I need to be a better athlete. Most importantly, I have
aligned myself with, me.
Since I have made this decision – I have improved my 5K times by almost 2
minutes and my 10K by 5 minutes. I have placed and even won several times,
too. I found what works for me and I do it. I found me, in this process.
As I head into my next Half Marathon in August (my first one since the
injury) – I feel stronger, I feel more comfortable with me. I run with
friends, I pace with friends – but my runs are back to running for me. I
decide the information I will follow, for me.
While I am grateful for the information I did certain from certain
individuals in my early stages, what I learned most is that all I need is,
me. Me, and my love of running and enjoying race days. I no longer allow
someone to tell me how to run – because they have no idea what I can do. I
do. With so many resources available to me online and resources I can call
upon for advise, I am in good hands.
Will I ever make anymore changes in my training? Of course I will. When
the time comes that what I am currently doing is no longer working, it will
be time for a change. However, this next time – I will know, because I have
learned to know, me. I am a smarter runner.
I challenge everyone who is reading this article to examine what is working
and what is not working for you. If something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.
If you are not getting the results you believe you can achieve right now,
make a change. Examine and Know Thyself and Run Smarter. In that process,
you become a better athlete and most importantly, a better person.
Surround yourself with trainers, nutritionists and other resources to
complete your training. It is about you. Make sure you focus on YOU.
Charlene L. Ragsdale