I need a test. I want to check in with myself to see how my ego is doing and its status when it comes to training. It has certainly intruded over the years in my participation in sports and I’d really like to understand why. But, first things first.
This upcoming weekend, a local 50K (31.1 miles) here in Corvallis called The Mary’s Peak 50K is taking place. It just so happens that my training plan for that day calls for a big effort. It’s a perfect chance to test my resolve in sticking to my plan by not running beyond my means and focus on making a good solid effort.
In the past, when I’ve entered a race, for the purpose of training, and I put that number on, my ego has always pushed me to race full steam, much to my dismay, because I am disrespecting my overall training cycle. The last time I did this was a couple of summer’s ago when, during a critical point in my training cycle for the Siskiyou Out & Back (SOB) 50K, I showed up at a local relay, Barrel to Keg, and raced three legs as if I were trying to prove to someone that I was fast enough: my ego dared me to do something I should have stayed away from.
Running that relay derailed my training regimen so badly that two weeks later, come the start of SOB 50K, I was not feeling charged up when it really mattered. If I show up to the start line this Saturday at Mary’s Peak 50K, allow my ego to dictate my effort to race full steam, then I will have lost sight of the bigger picture: that my goal is to peak and race well in September at The Pine to Palm 100. Sticking to a plan is crucial for me to maintain my health and longevity in the sport of running. As I’ve been known to say to some of the folks I coach: “Don’t fuck it up.” Time to man up and practice what I preach.
Racing can take away too much from an athlete, if that athlete is not careful and attentive to recovery after a major effort meant for training. Although the week after The Mary’s Peak 50K is a rest week, if I overdo that training race, I compromise my capacity to train efficiently in July, which will be one of the biggest volume training months for running that I have yet to attempt in my career as an amateur endurance athlete. I want to be strong, aware and prepared to move into that four week block. Mindfulness has to displace ego in order for me to reach my goal.
A talented ultra-marathoner, Joe Uhan posted an article on www.irunfar.com about a recent racing experience where he deliberately ran in the middle of the pack instead of keeping pace at the front. In his article, he made several observations about the difference between the way in which the elite runners race and train versus how the mid-packers/age-groupers go about the same task.
Reading this fantastic educational article was perfectly timed for me given my internal debate over the impending Mary’s Peak event just around the corner. I gained the insight that I can learn from staying in the mid-pack, observing how others run. The article also motivated me to write this blog post so that I can be publicly accountable for my actions, much like how I’ve been public about my sobriety. I seem to know my intentions: it’s ultimately up to me to follow through and simply go for a good training run next Saturday.
So, we’ll see how this mind/body experiment goes. I figure that if I’m to pursue this sport in a respectable manner, I must learn to leave my ego behind. I must learn to know my limits. I must learn how far I really can go. I’m not yet a seasoned runner like many of the elite athletes I follow and keep tabs on. This is only my fourth year running these distances. Maybe some guys can enter a race whenever they feel like it and seemingly crush the competition on tired legs. I’m willing to bet those kind of guys have been doing this sport their whole lives, or at least a hell of a lot longer than I have. That is an entirely different issue that I’m beginning to tackle: I’m not those guys.
Recently I’ve found myself during runs quietly repeating to myself that I’m not Steph Howe, I’m not Rob Krar, I’m not Chris Vargo, I’m not Sage Canaday, I’m not Andrew Miller… They are among the very elite in our sport that I look up to as athletes. I’m who I am, so just run like it and don’t try to be someone else. This practice allows me to remain in the present and enjoy a run for the sake of running, step by step, mile by mile.
It seems the more that I peel away the layers of my ego, like I pass through each day of sobriety, the more I understand myself. I’ve noticed over the last couple of months that I think differently when I run. I don’t run on the basis fear of not being the best. I run to understand who I am and where I’ve come from. I am grounded. This is all good progress, but I believe that the true work is just getting started.
Edited by Lyn Horton