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I used to be a reasonably competitive distance runner. Team titles, individual titles, all conference, academic all American, blah blah… Like decent. Not world class. Not national champion. But generally not somebody you wanted on your shoulder 1,000 meters out. And running was a really big part of me and my identity.
Some days, those accomplishments seem like they were achieved by a different human. Despite only being ~15 pounds over my racing weight back in college.
Working out regularly and even structured training is still part of the mix. Even after some time away post college. I eventually came back to the training and competing. Because I need it. That is just who I am. It is part of me. Chicken or egg problem.
The bike (or bike trainer) has been a big part of that regime. But still nothing beats running for me. Despite the nagging and chronic pain and injuries that began plaguing me late in my college career. And continue still.
As I was recently attempting another come back from my injury (I will call it my injury because it’s been with me for decades), I began reflecting on why I run. What am I trying to get out of it?
In my days competing, the goal was to be as fast as possible in the races that mattered. Period. Everything was focused on enhancing performance. At the risk of actually not competing in those races, because you broke. But the risk was worth it. And necessary. Everyone else was pretty much doing the same thing.
The motto I trained under was: Take one day off; you know it. Take two days off; your coach knows it. Take three days off; everyone knows. Each year, I could generally count days without a run on my fingers. And, I found it easier to track weekly mileage on a plus, minus ten basis. Just the deltas to ten. Eight was minus 2; ten was zero; 12 was plus 2, etc.
Now it is different. I run and train with different goal in mind. I run today, so I can run tomorrow.
And that impacts each run and the decision making around each run. It may lead me to run slower (ok, maybe a lot slower) or shorter or stop at the first twinge of pain or even take days off (gasp).
Maybe I am just getting old. But thinking about running and training through this lens has helped.