Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Resetting My Runner's Mindset

As I begin my nearly year-long journey to participate in the Ouray 100 ultramarathon, I’m quickly realizing one of the biggest challenges will be to reset my mindset about running training. For the past couple years while I focused on my goal to run a marathon in under three hours, I was always acutely aware of the number of miles I was running each week and the average pace of that mileage. That weekly mileage number became a bit of a bellweather to let me know if I was training the way I intended to.

Weekly mileage will not be that bellwether during this year-long training focus for Ouray. In fact, the opposite. I need to break my habit of watching the weekly mileage and making sure I am hitting predetermined benchmarks. My mindset has to reset to allow myself to do the right training each day and let the mileage focus fall away. And that is going to be a really tough thing after two years of really chasing big mileage.

Yesterday offered just such a challenge. When an evening meeting at work ended much earlier than anticipated yesterday, I had the opportunity to go for a run that I wasn’t sure I would get to do at the beginning of the day. On my training plan, if I did get to go, it was supposed to be a power hike and not actually a run at all. For Ouray, I’m going to have to become a far better walker and hiker than I am today. But as I faced the decision to use this newfound time, I also found myself being pulled toward running instead of fast walking. In the 45 minutes I now had, I could run a very easy 5 miles. Alternatively, I might be able to walk a bit over 3 miles with my fastest walk. 

It was really challenging to give up those 2 extra miles. 2 miles doesn’t seem like a lot, but make that choice 5 days in a week and a 75 mile week becomes only a 65 mile week. I’ve been siding with the higher number in these trade-off decisions for two years. I am conditioned to seek the higher mileage option reflexively now.

But that is no longer the good decision. I walked for the 45 minutes yesterday. Afterwards, I was still bothered by the 2 miles I missed out on. Yet it was the right decision, no matter how wrong it feels to me. And improving my decision making is one of the biggest focuses of this entire training journey to Ouray next year.

My runner’s mindset needs to be reset. It’s not about raw mileage, but doing the right things to have me ready to hike for 52 hours and cross 14 very high San Juan peaks. That is the singular focus. Two extra miles of running would have done absolutely nothing to improve my chances of succeeding.

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