Today’s reader question is about how do I gage improvement or progress. My answer is going to be that I think it is more important for runners to be process oriented in how they approach training and racing versus being more outcome oriented. I think being process oriented and “trusting the process” results in more success for runners and will eventually produce the desired outcomes.
Trust the Process is a funny title because its tied with the Philadelphia 76ers and how they purposefully were a terrible basketball team for years so they could get high draft picks and therefore have a greater chance at drafting franchise changing players. Now they have two franchise changing guys (Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid) and have shot at making the NBA Finals (the NBA Playoffs are going on right now for those of you who are losers that don’t like basketball). I just liked incorporating a little basketball into my blog because basketball is the sport I originally fell in love with. Now it is a toss up what sport I like more between basketball and running but I do think basketball is a funner sport to watch.
Side note: I am a great basketball player for a long distance runner. Why are long distance runners usually so bad at basketball, and really any sport outside of running in general? Just some light-hearted fun, don’t get bent out of shape my long distance friends. Perhaps I should answer that question one week.
74 miles this past week (I’m loving the consistency at these mid 70s)
17 miles on Sunday (Okay this was fun but a challenge, I ran 2 mile warm up, raced a 5K at 8 AM, 2 mile cool down, then ran 10 miles at noon)
5K in 17:35 (a not impressive result but I’m satisfied with it and will explore that in my takeaways)
3 days of running with friends (Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday — feeling like I’ve done far too many solo miles lately so I am glad to be getting in some training with friends)
A 17:35 5K is a mediocre result for me honestly. I know that my fitness is a level higher than a 17:35. However, I can accept this race without being very disappointed. This is not a race that I’ve had on my calendar for a long time and have been specifically preparing for. I have not spent a lot of time visualizing having a great race here. Instead, I registered for this race on the morning of and joined just to get some good running with a couple good friends.
Reading that last paragraph feels like a losers mentality. However, I don’t see it that way. I know that my past two races before this one (April 8th half marathon and April 22nd ten miler) that I have been very invested in and have spent a lot of time thinking about having success at these races. So I think naturally my race after these two was a bit of a let down. There are so many races that I can really work myself up for emotionally without getting burnt out. Bringing all my emotions in a race often leads to my best races but I cannot do it for every race because I will get burnt out. With how busy I feel that my life has been, I am carefully examining how I feel about running. Because if I feel burnt out on running, I know I’ll let myself slip and it’ll be very hard to come back from that.
With that being said, I am going to take some time to just train before racing again. As of right now, my next planned race is Bolder Boulder on May 28th. This will give me a chance to reset my emotions when it comes to racing and just focus on my training. I think I am in really good shape but I think it will do me some good to put in 4 weeks of really solid consistent training. It’ll give me a chance to really push myself and push my fitness to another level.
I am also taking this break out of necessity. The school year is coming to an end and I am going to be super busy. In the next month, the track season is ending, my little brother is graduating from college, I am moving into a new place, and I am going to finish my first year of teaching. With all these things, racing will have to take a backseat. It will be a busy time and I can accept pushing racing to the side for that reason.
“How do you gage improvement?”
The beauty about running is that the clock does not lie. We always have our time for a specific race that we can point to to measure our success. The clock never lies, right? That is how we can gauge improvement, right? You improved if you ran faster. That means success.
I will admit, I love the clock. I love to use the clock to gauge improvement. But I know it is not the end all be all. If it were, then I would not have improved as a runner or experienced success since February 2017. That is the last time I ran a personal best (okay technically I ran a personal best in the ten mile last week but being that it was only my second one it feels like a cop out). And I cannot honestly say that I have not improved a runner in the last fourteen months. I cannot honestly say that I have experienced no success in the last fourteen months as a runner.
That is why I have been making the conscious effort to focus on the process rather than the outcomes. I show up everyday to get my runs in. I bust my butt. I’ve had some good results because of that. When it comes to running, I think there is the most value when you focus on the process instead of the outcomes. The outcomes have value, but there is much more value in the process. There is much more value in showing up everyday and working hard. There is much more value in giving 100% of yourself to a task. There is more value in riding the ups and downs of the process. There is more value in taking things one task at a time.
There is a lot more success when you are invested in the process.
There is a lot more I have to say about this. But I’ll leave it here with the promise of revisiting it later.
I just want to give a special shout out to my family who has been very supportive of my running. I am trying to show more gratitude and they’ve been a huge reason why I continue to be able to do this. Here is a great photo we took together back on New Year’s Eve.
I am here to share my running experience which truthfully boils down to my life experiences. I appreciate you allowing me to vulnerable with you. As always, I love you.