Sunday, August 23, 2009

Getting Away

At times, the best training techniques are those that require no running at all.

This weekend has been nicely distracting. After a busy week last, I was tired heading into the weekend. My main goal for the weekend was to sleep and recover from my cold so I could have a strong long run and set myself up for a full week of work and training before vacation starts. The opposite has happened and I could not be more happy.

I rarely let myself escape the shell I have built around me, except when I run. When I run I am free from the concerns of every day life, I do not have to look a certain way, talk a certain way or behave according to societal norms (although one could argue that running is a valued activity in society and therefore I am submitting to the pressures of society by running, but that is a discussion for future blogs). In my everyday life, although I am friendly and outgoing, I am not one to take a lot of chances or step out of the well defined boundaries I have made for myself. I struggle with being self conscious and I have a tendency to judge (both myself and others). This weekend I was able to leave myself behind and have some well needed fun.

So, how does this relate to training and running faster? It does not in a direct way lead to me running faster. To the contrary, if I were to have this weekend every weekend, I would not be an elite runner. What this weekend does for me is it enables me to focus on running without using it as a way to 'leave myself behind'. I must admit, I would not have been able to maintain the schedule I have if I was not sick. I was not able to train Saturday morning so I rested and spent time with a friend. In the afternoon, instead of hammering out a hard swim, I had a light and easy 1200 metre workout. Thus I was rested and energized to go to a club, get lost in the music, and have a generally great time. I was able to blow off some steam, sleep in this morning, and feel great for getting outside of my bubble and living a little.

Why do I think this will lead to better running? When I was at the University of New Brunswick I trained very hard and made quite a few sacrifices to run fast. Running was everything to me. At the start of my third year at UNB I was very fit after having a great summer of training. I did not take a break from running in a long time and I was starting to burn out. Into the middle of the cross country season I was running well but not great. I was not living up to my expectations nor was I progressing quite as I had wanted. We had a race, I did not run well, and at the after party (of which there were many) I drank way too many lovely beverages and found myself on the bathroom floor for much of the night. My Sunday consisted of moving from bed to chesterfield and back to bed as I suffered through a monster hangover. A hangover so powerful no amount of Advil/Aspirin/Tylenol could stop the sledgehammer from smashing against my skull. A hangover so powerful I could not walk further then to get to the bathroom or the chesterfield nor partake in my basic activities of daily living. The next Saturday I won my first (and only) Atlantic University Sport cross country meet.

I am by no means advocating binge drinking or all night partying as a means to running fast. What I am advocating is to do something out of the ordinary every once and while to go beyond the comfort zone and leave yourself, even if just for a moment. The ability to drop all pretense and do what the mind wants, rather then what we are supposed to do, is freeing and liberating. It also creates calm in it's aftermath. Like the beautiful glistening calm after a winter blizzard, a night of mayhem can leave one feeling centered and calm, ready to tackle the world and all it's troubles.

Today I had a light 'recovery' run after watching my good friend Kara complete in the Canadian Modern Pentathlon Championships. Tomorrow I will try to make up my long run.

Happy Training!

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