On that note, most of our recent training has been directed to the upcoming racing season, but a few of us have already kicked the season off. Congrats to Jackie, Kirsten and Lonna who participated in the PoHo Chocolate Run. Good luck to Lynn, who will be running the Hypo Half this weekend! Also, thanks go out to those who will be helping out at the Renegade water station at the Hypo Half. We'd also like to welcome our newest Renegade, Verylene Graham. Many of you know Verylene but if not please introduce yourselves at an upcoming run.
This month's title means you'll be reading a few of my thoughts on racing, but we're also lucky to have a guest contributor, Aaron Cooper. Aaron is the top local runner, ranking 20th in Canada for the marathon in 2016 as well as running a person best of 31:21 last year in the 10k. Hopefully 2017 will bring more good things. Aaron will share this thoughts about what he's learned during his relatively short but very successful running career.
First here are a few thoughts on racing. Last month, I talked about goals, and the importance of having a season mapped out in your head. Within the plan, hopefully you have some 'goal' or 'A' races but also some 'B' races. Your goal races will be those where you're wanting to run your best time. These are the races that your training plan is directed around, and you'll be peaking for best efforts in these races.
'B' race goals can be very different. Maybe you want to try a new race or visit a new place, pace one of your friends, go out for an 'easy' race to just enjoy the racing experience or test out a new pacing strategy. Jack Daniels encourages you to always have a goal for a race - but not always shooting for PB. Be sure to include some of these races in your plan.
Runners are usually their own harshest critics and sometimes we get in the mindset that if we're not PB'ing in every race, we are not successful. Including some 'B' races in your plan will allow you to keep in great condition, have some fun, and be ready for those goal races when you put it all on the line. By adopting this strategy, you can have a successful but also fun, racing season.
That's all for me. Have a great month!
Thanks again to Aaron...here's his contribution.
1. Be patient. Running is a game of delayed gratification. It takes weeks and months and years of consistency to make fitness gains and see those improvements materialize in your races. Remember that no single workout will determine whether you achieve your goal - it is the accumulation of the hundreds or thousands of kilometres you will log. In order to get in those miles and see those improvements you're hoping for, you have to be consistent day-to-day. Don't push it if you feel like you might be nearing injury. Take a rest day if you think that will help. Taking a couple days off may help you avoid a couple months off due to an injury. It can be really hard to be patient when you have a race on horizon, but pushing things and pressing my luck hasn't worked out well for me. It can be hard to miss a weekly mileage target or a workout you've had on the calendar for weeks, but try to remember that one missed workout is almost meaningless in the bigger picture of an entire training cycle; Making it to the starting line healthy will have a much bigger impact on your race than any workout. (I've lost count of the number of races I've missed thanks to a workout that has probably pushed me over the edge into injury!)
2. Enjoy the process. While we all enjoy racing and achieving a hard-fought personal best, remember that those brief moments are just that - brief moments, especially compared to the hours you have logged in training each week to prepare. If you look forward to getting out the door on a regular basis to put in some work, you'll be much more likely to get your training done. Find what works for you in this regard. If you love time alone in nature, find the trails that will get you out the door. If you enjoy the camaraderie of group runs and socializing with friends, call up your running buddies and schedule your next few runs so you have others to hold you accountable. If you cringe at the thought of early morning runs, maybe afternoon runs when the sun is more likely to be shining will help you be more consistent in getting out for a run. Maybe running after the kids are in bed helps you transition from your mom/dad role back into your spouse role (or similar for switching your brain from work-mode to home-mode). If you can find a way to integrate running into your life in a way that makes you happier or that limits stress, you'll be more likely to run and you'll probably get in better shape because of it.
3. Don't sweat the small stuff. There are so many articles you can read about small, nearly insignificant techniques that people use to try to get an edge in their running. With so many (often conflicting) opinions and ideas, you can find yourself going in circles on how to optimize your training. More often than not, we find ourselves missing the forest for the trees. Before you worry about the details, make sure you're checking off the BIG things like getting a good night's sleep as often as you can, eating healthy food and limiting junk, and simply running regularly. The best part about those three things is that they're simple - you don't need to overthink them. Do you need to stress over whether you get 8 or 8.5 hours of sleep each night? Probably not. Just try to avoid staying up all night watching TV so that you wake up refreshed most days. Are you going to see significant fitness gains from switching to a high-carb or low-carb diet? Probably not. What will likely have a bigger impact is simply eating reasonably-sized portions of generally healthy food and limiting the times that you over-indulge in junk food. Is it more important to get in a tempo run or intervals today? As long as you are running regularly and putting in some occasional hard efforts, you are probably 95% the way there. Sleep, eat, run. Make sure you have the fundamentals down before you get too carried away with the details.