This title may be confusing you, but I assure you I am going somewhere with this blog. This is not a motivational blog, rather this is opinionated from me and is just my advice to you!
(let me say this is the first time that I have seen this photo and it is absolutely hilarious. Just look at me. How could you not love this picture when I use it to show me before I give advice ha!)
When discussing running and fitness in general, I find that you can be over focused and over concerned.
Wait, you are saying that you weren’t focused to be able to run PRs, win races, train during the summer, train during the winter, and continue to grow your fitness base Noah?
Of course I was focused, but I feel like my running was a compartmentalized part of my life and I did not see this until it was taken away from me.
I have at time been too focused. When it is going good, it’s going great. When it takes a turn for the worst, your entire life suffers because of it.
Now you should care, you shouldn’t want to be hurt, or have a poor race, or bomb a workout. None of those things are fun. However you should be able to handle yourself if it does happen and not let it weigh on you and cause you to feel depressed, worthless, or empty.
When considering a tough workout or race, check out this Michael Jordan quote. You learn from being off, you make adjustments, and it will come around to help you!
Back on track now, when running in season, or in serious training during a block you need to be able to stay loose, to have fun and stay healthier longer.
I’ve done many foolish things in my life during training, however I feel when I am doing things that people may judge when you are training is when I am having the most fun and at times training the best.
Watching a late night movie with the team before a morning run, I promise that extra hour of sleep one time a week or once in a while will not change you from a 10:40 3200 runner to a 9:40 guy.
Playing a pick up basketball, ultimate frisbee, backyard football, wiffle ball, having a pond relay (I have done all of these before) is another way that some people (especially me) like to stay loose and forget about running once in a while.
When I was running at my peak as a high schooler, I would say that essentially every single weekend I was either playing a game of some sort in the backyard, maybe a game of risk at night, possibly a solid movie, and probably not exactly what you would say is an ideal regimen for perfect training.
In contrast to the not perfect regimen, I was having some of the most fun I had ever had. My best friends and I were constantly hanging out and not worrying about running when we weren’t running.
Now in college, I had my sophomore year be essentially the biggest nightmare possible for a runner. I’ll lay it out for you here.
Started growing my mullet after my freshman year, had the greatest summer of training that I have ever had and was a lean, mean running machine coming back to Madison for year 2.
After our team camp we came back to campus and on the first day of school, I felt what we eventually found out was a sacral stress reation (I basically broke my back in extremely dumbed down terms). 12 weeks, out, nothing.
Start a slow build up again in December for the outdoor season essentially. Start regaining fitness, was well over the weight I was at during the fall before the injury, and just before outdoor season starts workouts start to ramp up and I start to feel some fitness and some good things coming around.
Then, boom, wake up from a nap and knew the other sacrum was broken…
5 weeks, no running, I was crushed. An entire year and nothing to show for all of the work I had put in on the roads, in the training room, in the weight room… NOTHING
I was in a dark place, I thought it was time to hang it up. I did not know if I could take it anymore. The rehab, the work to get back, the amount of things that need to go right to be in the fitness spot I so desperately wanted to be in seemed impossible to me after this.
I am no scientist, I am barely a licensed driver…
BUT… I think that the amount of weight I put on myself to make sure I was cross-training perfectly, and make sure that I was going to run this workout just right, or be able to do every step perfect to run a new PR in 6 weeks was far too much.
I wasn’t living in the present. Feeling the moment. Enjoying the blessing of every single day and goofing around, letting the kid in myself come out. I was a ticking time bomb of self pressure, worry, doubt, fear and so many negative things.
I am far from perfect at staying physically healthy, but mentally and emotionally I have made huge strides in keeping myself in a good spot.
School is going to be stressful, you can not avoid it. Sometimes you need to focus on a test and not on practice, or a morning bike ride, be honest with yourself and your coach and take a morning, or even a whole day to relax and wind down and prepare. Those exams kick your butt and really take the energy out of you.
This year (my junior year of college) I have been far from perfectly healthy. However I got to race 3 times in cross-country and 2 times during indoor track and have not had any major injuries. Some sickness, a few muscle tweaks or strains causing a few days, maybe a little over a week at most.
I get that I am not some perfect runner, I ran 8:25 for 3K this indoor season and was the 11th guy for the Badgers in cross-country this fall (2019).
I would have liked to have been the 7th man and run at Nationals and have run 8:10 and raced at the Big Ten indoor championships. I want to perform at a high level and help the team.
However, I will take being healthy, stringing some training together, and getting the opportunities to race and learn from them, be happy with them, and continue to grow.
After sitting for a full year, every little thing becomes a little bit sweeter.
I would like to say that I have played basketball a few times here and there because I enjoy it. I have watched a movie late into the night because I was interested in it. I have eaten that 3rd cookie and not overthought the consequences because you are a human being, not just a runner.
This is college, go sing karaoke with your boys. Go play P-I-G on a nice day outside. Go sit out and watch the stars and feel at peace. I do not care what you love to do or what makes you happy, but do it.
Play the long game (which is so extremely hard) and do not worry about that one bad workout, or that one time you got sick. Just get through it and keep going.
If you feel like you need a mental or physical day off, take one.
If you feel good on a run, pick up the pace a little.
If you really want that Dairy Queen Blizzard, order it.
Keep yourself happy, stay loose, and I promise that you will be in the game longer because you are more happy and less stressed.
As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.”
Enjoy the rest of your weekend and lets win next week!
Keep Getting Better!