Life lessons from the training plan

Back in the fall, I started working with a running coach. In a raceless, travel-restricted year complicated by various minor injuries and a whole lot of stress, it’s been such a win to have this support! It’s like having a running encyclopedia, cheerleader, and planner all in one awesome human. Learning her philosophy and training style has given me some tools for reflection and development in my running, but beyond my running, too. 2020 was a year with lots of change and uncertainty, and 2021 is shaping up to be more of this medicine. I, like a lot of people, have experienced some shifts in my thoughts and feelings around big issue like my satisfaction with my work, my health, my relationships with my family and partner, and my presence and mindfulness in my day-to-day life. And through it all, I ran. The anchor that my running plan has given me has felt like a warm hug and a gentle push at the same time. In other words, just what I needed.

“Running wisdom” can be really tiresome, I know. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, yada yada yada. But what I’ve gleaned these past months is more complex and personal than that, so I hope you’ll stick with me.

True in running, true in life:

  • Keeping an easy, sustainable pace most of the time makes the continued practice and development possible. You shouldn’t be exhausted from your daily efforts. You can’t do a good job at anything for long if you’re exhausted.
  • The harder efforts– strides sprinkled in, a workout day, a race– are fun, even exhilarating, against this backdrop of ease. It feels amazing to push hard from a place of strength and get what you want.
  • Rest days are the secret sauce. In my schedule, they’re there before I need need them. The best stuff happens when you’re resting– the body and mind adapt and replenish and build. Days totally off and away from the work make the next workout better, too.
  • Cross-training lets you build endurance without wearing yourself out and risking injury form overuse. It can also diversify your strengths and skills, making your more resilient. Variety is good for the body and good for the mind.
  • Little niggles need TLC. When something’s off, attend to it seriously and immediately. Pretending nothing is wrong does not work. A little time and care now can prevent a major issue down the road.
  • Sometimes injuries happen even if you do everything right. You can’t fight it. You need to assess it honestly and give it what it needs. Slow down, adapt, and focus on healing. It is absolutely OK to be mad, frustrated, disappointed, sad, and generally bummed out when something bad happens. Feel it. Sit with it. Then, figure out what’s next.

So, there it is. This advice (to myself!) has helped me this year. And I’m still learning from running every day, even as things in my life shift (and shift they do).

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