Lessons from running for life.
I was lost in Golden Gate Park. Not lost, but four miles from where I thought I was, and five miles from home. "I guess my run is gonna be longer than I thought."
After two years of running, I finally feel comfortable calling myself a runner. This is from someone who ran more than one consecutive mile just a few times in his first 22 years of life.
But running, training, and adopting the 'runner' label continue to teach me life lessons. As I train for the MidState Mile on June 19th (I wrote about the event and my goals for the race in Issue 24), these lessons have materialized all the more.
Life is a marathon, so why not draw some lessons from running? Training for a Last Man Standing event has taught lessons about preparation, pace, and how to build a sustainable long-term plan, all of which are applicable to our work lives.
It’s All About PACE.
Training looks very different depending on the day. Training for endurance requires diligence. And stretching, lots of stretching. I think of training within four modes I learned from Hintsa. Normal Mode is long-term pace; Mission Mode is a quick sprint or challenge; Recovery Mode follows mission mode; Renewal Mode is about reflection and looking ahead. Due to time or aches, I can't go 100% every day. Normal Mode during the race will be about 14 min/mile. I've focused on making that pace sustainable for the long term. The hills will be individual missions, and I will need to recover appropriately after each steep climb. Joe Holder says, "Excellence, not perfection." For an endurance event, perfection is near-impossible, but with the right pace, a commitment to excellence is in my control.
Explore Places New and Old
Over the last few months of training, I've run in six states, including California and New York, and explored paths new and old. Compared to a car or bike, running makes hills a little steeper, roots a little more obtrusive, views a little better, and the sun a little hotter. Whereas cars move quickly, you can linger among your surroundings on foot. I get lost in a new area and find my way back, or I run a path through the woods at my own pace. Make tracks where nobody else has dared to venture. Especially for short training runs, there's no equipment needed. Running shows a new perspective. It reminds me how important it is to see things differently once in awhile. And sometimes "differently" means lightheaded running at 8,000 feet.
Buddy Runs Keep You Going.
Sometimes my mind and body need a break. Everybody has tough days where you reconsider the point of it all while trudging up a hill, sometimes even reconsider your sanity. Work and life do this to us too. The best medicine for these days: training with a buddy. We turn to the comfort of friends and family during the tough patches. Having a friend with a good route, or a running companion of any sort reinvigorates my drive. Partially because I'm competitive, partially because I always like learning from others' experiences, partially because the journey becomes less lonely. I'm glad to have some friends in the event, too. In all we do, we can spend our days training with people who support us.
The body speaks with more than just a mouth. After pulling my soleus muscle in my calf last year while running in the Calendar Club, I needed to rethink my approach to physical activity. It forced me to listen to my body, and over the last year I'm proud of how attuned I've become to what my body needs to able to perform. Similarly, my body sends signals when I sit for too long, am staying up too late, or eating too much sugar. My body signals when to push and when to back off. It's important to listen.
The training continues to teach me lessons for life. As the race date approaches, these lessons will make the day a success no matter what. Keep an eye out for post-race notes in the coming weeks.