On what is perhaps my favorite blog, The Logic of Long Distance, Jeff recently posted a followup to an earlier post entitled "Rethinking How to Train". I think any athlete could benefit from the wisdom imparted here, but especially (obviously) runners.
One thing I have gleaned from the two of these posts, that I have been trying to incorporate in my runs: Purpose.
I often (maybe too often) run simply to run. No real goal, no game plan, no set idea about what I will be training for on that day, or how that particular run fits into the bigger picture. Aside from the obvious- general fitness- I run to run, because I love it, because it makes me feel good.
As of late, I have been thinking quite a bit about purpose when running and have tried to develop a new habit. Prior to each run, as I lace shoes, rummage around for my ever disappearing favorite beanie, I try to bring one question into focus: What am I running for today?
The answer shifts, but lately, it has simply been to maintain a base (my "real" training for the R2R2R will begin January). Even so, while reaffirming such a general goal, it brings things into focus and becomes a sort of meditation that in turn brings purpose to the run: I am doing this today so that my body will be prepared to accept harder work in the months to come.
It may sound small, but I find it helps a great deal.
As an amateur athlete, it is very easy to get lost in self-doubt, laziness, excuses. Nobody forces us to do this. If I don't wake up at 5AM for my Saturday morning long run nobody cares. In fact, I have every reason not to go; cooking pancakes for the kids, sleeping in, coffee in the backyard with my wife...
Every runner knows it can be a tough to get out the door at times. It's hot, it's cold, it's raining, I'm too full, I'm too hungry, I'm too....I think sometimes we just run on faith, perhaps stubbornness, or even stupidity.
But by incorporating these short meditations, bringing my attention back to the bigger picture and how this specific run fits into it, the first steps are that much easier.