By Ross Lenehan
For almost all of us we are trying to become better at running in one way or another. Running has a seemingly infinite number of ways to become better. As humans we are naturally compelled to find a goal, and work towards achieving it. Over my many years as a competitive athlete I can think back to races that I’ve PR’d in, or races that I’ve placed well. If I dig a little deeper though, hitting these times or placing highly is rarely what I think about most in my time as a runner. I think about those early mornings rolling myself out of my bed to meet up with friends to go train, or taking in the beautiful scenery passing by as I run along, the people I’ve met along the way, or most of the time the life lessons I’ve learned from running. As a competitive athlete, I find myself being swallowed up by the need to perform well. I think that we all do that in one way or another. I believe that we need to remind ourselves as much as possible that running is supposed to be fun, and we should be grateful that we are even able to run. Running shouldn’t feel like a job that you will be graded on. Take in each run along the way, as a moving meditation if you will. Most of those days where going for a run is the last thing in the world you want to do, it is best to go for a shorter easy run. Let your mind wander, relax, and I promise you will not regret getting out there. This may sound the Zen approach to running well, but there is something to it.
If there is one piece of advice I can give you, it is racing well requires you to be ready to race on race day. (Please re-read that last sentence.) I see many runners that put an enormous amount of stress on their training. Hitting or exceeding all of their appropriate paces, completing x number of miles week after week, but can not seem to race well. People as much as we like to think we are, are not machines. Excelling on each and every workout does not equal a great race performance, and the person who works the hardest does not always come out on top. There are some days we just don’t have it and aren’t able to perform during workouts. On days such as these, it requires being able to listen to your body, and backing off. Sounds simple like a simple task right? Wrong. It takes a great deal of discipline to be honest with yourself and let go during a workout. Having to back out of a single workout is no big deal, let yourself recover and move on to the next one. There is no one workout that will make your race or break your race….unless you let it. As runners we only have so many matches to burn and learning to use those matches wisely is the best gift you can give yourself on race day.