This past week I did back to back marathons as part of my training for the 100 mile run coming up. On Friday I ran an easy 3:27:18 and then came back on Saturday and ran faster for a 3:07:14. Right now I am doing things on a weekly basis that is new and uncharted in my journey to becoming a solid ultra runner. Below I blog about some keys that have been important in my training success so far.
First, I have had to have control over my “fears”. To say I have been “fearless” would be a lie. I think most of us should have a certain level of fears, worries, concerns, and even doubts about trying very difficult things or new things in our training. They key for me was to not allow fear to hold me back in trying something I would never have considered in my marathon training. Doing a 25 mile run with a 50 mile run the next day last week and then doing back to back marathons this week are examples of two types of training runs I would never have done or considered in the past. It goes to show that some of us are probably capable of way more than we give ourselves credit for.
Second, having the support of others is so key in the heart of your hardest training. If your spouse isn’t on board or your friends have doubts about what you can handle then you might want to pause and consider things. However, if your spouse who knows you well and others believe in you then maybe you need to believe in yourself as well. It’s amazing what “belief” or “faith” in oneself can do. It’s also important to trust in your coach, spouse, and friends who are there to support you. For example, I have been lugging around most of my nutrition and hydration for my training runs and it has been hard to give up some of that stuff to others to take care of. What if they miss me at the next interchange? What if they mess up the drink mix concentration? I have had to believe in the team and support base I have as well.
Third, GRIT and GRIND. That’s how I describe ultra running. It isn’t a blazing pace but it’s a steady pace that while easy to run for a long time eventually becomes painful because of the sheer miles spent on your feet. That’s when you have to have GRIT and you have to keep GRINDING away. Grit and grind is to passionately persevere in a steady and unwavering way. You don’t have to be an ultra runner or endurance athlete to have GRIT and to GRIND. Every athlete in the gym, on the track, and on the field can show GRIT and keep GRINDING away. There are no short cuts, hold backs, and quits if we want to get to our goals. Every day, every training run, and all the things I do in between are important in the journey to becoming a better endurance athlete.
Fourth, I have had to know when to quit or back it down. Those who are super competitive or have crazy work ethics may have a hard time doing this. Yet, we all have LIMITS. We are not indestructible! Our bodies are amazing but we can get injured and hurt seriously. Sure, I want to push one more mile! Do a few more repeats! Run at my max effort a little bit longer…..but over exerting can lead to consequences that will end my journey to getting to the 100 mile run day. Sometimes you have to trust that you’ve done enough.
Lastly, diversify my training. I find that doing some basic things over and over again can be important to set a foundation but some people get stuck in that foundation building. You’ll never see your true potential if you don’t start adding in and doing things that will help strengthen your body and mind in different ways. For example, a few years ago I simply didn’t think weight lifting was important as a runner. Yet, strength training is really important! I use to think down hill running wasn’t vital but some down hill training is just as important as up hill training to work on your quads! I have some diversity in my training to help make myself a more well rounded athlete. Running at different speeds, holding my heart at different rates, going different distances and so on helps your training to advance.
In the end I would sum it all up by saying “Go for it!” Don’t hold back from trying some new workouts even if they sound “too hard”. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself! Just remember to prepare your heart and mind for the GRIT and GRIND of it all. Most of us should know our true limits as we are in the moment. Sometimes we don’t make it through the whole workout or we don’t make it through the whole race. What happens in the end doesn’t have to be dictated by a few workouts or failures. Having to sit out a whole season because of injury isn’t a place most of us want to be. When I have workouts or races that don’t go as I expect then use that as motivation to keep moving forward and making the adjustments necessary to be successful. Sometimes that means I need to diversify a bit and get out of the rut I’m in. I hope what I’ve been learning is useful for you. Go get your workout on!