The last few days I have been thinking about ultra running and what it as taught me..
Coming off a hard two week training cycle which included two 40 mile runs, two long back to back heat training runs, a few trail tempo runs and lots of core work I slept almost all day, ahh recovery! I had wanted to get in one more quality long run, but it wasn’t happening. On Sunday I got 5 miles into a 30 mile run and just new things were off, and not in a just-push-through- it way. A weird 48 hour virus struck…I thought I would put off the long run till Sunday, till Monday… today I gave it up. My husband asked if I still need to get in one more long run, probably expecting me to say “yes, I hate this, I need one more long run.”– probably expecting me to be grumpy and stressed because I missed ONE last run… But instead I replied, “meh, the time has past, it wasn’t meant to be, I will trust my training and not worry about that one last missed run..no big deal.”(who am I?) I know in the past I could have very well let that one little thing freak me out, that one little missed run could have put me off my whole taper..” it wasn’t meant to be..” huh, that’s a better attitude.
I’m sort of on a taper, but not racing anything serious, so its a not-so-serious taper that I am on. Meanwhile, many of my friends have been on their “A” race tapers with Bighorn 100, WS100 and Hardrock coming up soon so I have been reading quite a few social media posts about tapering.
Having been there, and looking in from my position…which isn’t from exactly a veteran standpoint, but not a newbie place either..how many Ultras have I done? (stops typing to go check Ultrasignup.com) 15, ok wow, 15 races… time flies when you are having fun I guess!
Anywhoo, I have seen all sorts of ways that people react to their “A” race tapers. There are those who freak out- not trusting in their training.(I have surely been there before!!) They can’t sleep, can’t concentrate, can’t relax. There are others who love the taper, perhaps they have worn themselves out training and welcome the break from training. Others have so carefully plotted out their few weeks leading up to a big race they don’t have the time to react to the change in their training lives.
It often seems like many people fall into two camps, those who deal well with the weeks leading up to their races, and those who don’t. Perhaps those who have learned to trust in themselves, and those who haven’t? Or maybe who can take responsibility for their success and failures but who also know that sometimes “shit just happens” and believe in themselves to make the best out of every situation.
I think I used to be in the camp that didn’t do well in the weeks leading up to an “A” race. I fell into that place where I wanted to control everything, if I didn’t sleep well one night, or I missed a run it would send me off into a whirl wind of self doubt. I think I also spent a lot of my life in my 20s in this place as well. Wanting to control every aspect of my personal life because the outside world itself is so uncontrollable.
What I now see is that the most successful people in life, and in ultra running are able to roll with the punches. Those who are hyper controlling and inflexible can be successful as well, but I think burn themselves out easier.
We can’t actually control much in our lives, the best we can do is control how we react to situations.
Life, as in ultra running, is unpredictable..messy at best. Sure, I still try to stick to training plans, and life plans, but when things go awry I don’t quite have the same freak out reaction that I used to have. Its quite liberating to “grow up” and learn to trust yourself and (or) your training. I recently read an article about ego vs confidence. Confidence was explained as feeling ready because you know you have the work to back up good results, where as ego is just being overly self-assured while you may not actually have any hard work to back that up. I think I have found confidence recently.
Thank you ultra running for helping me grow up… not too much though, I like being a kid at heart still.