Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Your Running Is Yours

There are any number of reasons to run and running can mean so many different things to different people. Some people run to set personal best times; some run for competition, to challenge themselves against others; some run for health or to lose weight; some run as a personal challenge to see how fit then can get; some run for peace of mind or as a therapy to deal with stress or hyperactivity; some run for quiet time to pray or think; some run to explore or enjoy nature; some run for the social and community aspects of the sport; some prefer to pursue long distance such as marathons or ultras and some prefer shorter distances like mile, 5k or 10k.  There are almost an infinite number of possibilities on how someone might choose to partake in running. But none of these reason is right for, or motivates everyone. We are each on our own journey in running and must decide how it fits into our life.

Unfortunately one problem I regularly see as a running coach is runners letting others' expectation dictate how they choose to pursue the sport.  Some people run marathons because they think they are suppose to or because others expect them to, but they really would rather focus on 5k's.  Some run races even though they really have no interest in them simply because it is expected of them by others.  Some are peer pressured into group runs when they really prefer the solitude of solo runs.  None of this happens maliciously, it is just that many people assume others have the same motivations or interest as they do, when often it is not the case.  When you stop pursuing running in the way that is most important to you, and instead follow the path of others' expectations, you will often run into burn-out and disinterest and soon lose your motivation to get out there.

The purpose of this blog then is to point this out.  That running doesn't mean the same thing to everyone and that is OK. In fact that is a beauty of the sport, that it can mean so many different things to different people.  It is fine to take your own path in the sport as long as it is what you want and is true to your interests and passions.  So stand up for yourself, be honest with yourself, and choose to pursue running how it will mean the most to, and be the best for you.  Afterall that is why you started it in the first place. 

And be conscious of the fact that others may have different motivations and goals or uses for the sport than you do.  Be courteous and encouraging to them rather than trying to convert them to your motivations or uses.  There is room in this great sport for everyone, enjoy, embrace and marvel at our diversity.

Happy Running,

Coach Mark Hadley

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sacrifices or Choices

"One of the biggest determining factor in how our training goes, is the attitude we bring to it."

How we frame situations in our own mind plays a big role in the attitude we bring to them.  If we want to be a positive person then we need to frame things in a positive way.  

A great example of this is when people talk about all the sacrifices they make for their running: "I give up sleep, I give up family time, I give up sweets".   This can be a negative way to approach training and leave one feeling bitter, burned out, or even resent it, especially if things do not go well in a particular race or training cycle.  Instead I suggest we would be much better off by viewing it (framing it in our mind) as making a choice.  We choose to go for our runs because the sense of accomplishment (or whatever it means to you) is more important to us than whatever we give up (such as an extra 30 minutes of TV).  We are simply choosing to value our running goal more than some other uses of our time.  Those other uses may be great and valuable, but whatever running goal we have is more important to us. 

This is a decision to focus on the positive, to focus on the positive things we are choosing rather than the negative of what we are giving up.  The end result is a greater feeling of empowerment and control and affirmation that we are taking positive steps towards our goals, which leads to a positive attitude.  But if we dwell on sacrifices, we are focusing on the negative and what we are giving up, which leads to a more negative frame of mind.  

As you go about your day and your training, focus on your choices rather than your sacrifices, and you'll stay happier, more positive and be more effective.  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Summer Training

Summer training, in the higher temperatures and humidity, can provide some great opportunities to receive big fitness gains. The tough weather conditions have been shown to have similar physical benefits to training at altitude and the mental challenge of it can make us stronger runners. But like training at altitude there also comes with the opportunity a risk of over doing it and pushing too hard. To get the maximum benefits from your summer training focus on 4 areas:
- Adjust your training paces. Just like when training at altitude you have to adjust your training paces because your body has to work harder than at cooler temperatures. Adjust more at first and less as your body becomes acclimatized to the conditions. Insisting on trying to run the same paces as you can in cooler weather will just cause you to work too hard and over-train.
- Focus on good hydration. While important all year long, the risk of dehydration or sub-optimal hydration is greatest in the summer weather. Be sure to adopt good hydration practices (100+ oz per day and drinking spread-out through-out the day) and stay diligent to them every day.
- Recovery, recovery, recovery. The summer conditions are extra hard on us mentally and physically, so we must be sure we recover adequately from our stress workouts. Be diligent on all your recovery protocols, keeping easy runs slow, stretching, rolling & massage, ice baths, and sleep. The harder you train, the better you must recover.
- Keep a positive attitude. It is easy to get frustrated and start complaining about high summer temperatures and humidity levels. But keeping a positive attitude is key to making training sustainable. Adjust training paces accordingly for the conditions but don't dwell on weather, instead stay positive and focus on the purpose and benefits of the training. The body tends to follow the mind so staying positive will help you feel better and get the most from training.
Happy Running,
Coach Mark Hadley