I have been trying for years to replicate my “perfect” season of training which was the summer of 2008. For the past 6 years I have struggled to run the mileage I ran that summer and now I understand why…I will never be able to go back and rerun those miles again because they are behind me now. I realized I had to run new miles, set new goals, and decide that no matter what I did this summer I was going to train hard everyday and never look back again, well at least not look back and dwell.
The summer of 2008 was the summer before my senior year of college and I wanted to be prepared since we had a lot of new, talented recruits coming in. I had always been in the top 7 for cross country so I worked hard to make sure that no matter what happened I would absolutely not have to worry about not being in the top 7. Yes, I was successful and I was in the top 7 but it was not worth it in the end because I created this unrealistic link between success and running 60-70 miles a week and I haven’t been able to run 60- 70 miles in one week in 6 whole years.
The reasons why I have failed to reach that mileage range again are variant. In 2009 I started a new job and graduate school. I was also just burnt out from years of running. In 2010 I got married, took a promotion and I was still in grad school. In 2011 I decided to start seriously racing again but I wasn’t very accustomed to running high mileage anymore. I was also still in graduate school and took another promotion later on in the year. In 2012 I just couldn’t get myself focused enough without the guidance of a coach and I started coaching which took up more of my time. In 2013 I very seriously began training and racing again but my head was all over the place. I was frustrated with my life in general. Halfway through the year I joined a running club, received a training plan, found people to run with, people to race with, and gained a huge network of other runners. I still could’t train “perfectly” though. This past spring was a disaster as far as training goes. I guess I ran well, I even ran a few PRs, but I just couldn’t get it all to click and that was because I was dwelling.
I have a tendency to dwell on things even though I know I can not change them. There are two things that I have been dwelling on since I have had that “perfect” summer of training 6 years ago and as soon as I stopped dwelling on them running became easier and my mileage instantly increased. The first thing I was dwelling on was not applying to graduate school for sport psychology. Yes, I was already in grad school and I finished that degree, but I lost sight of what I really really wanted to do and I have regretted it ever since. The second thing I have been dwelling on is not being able to run those high mileage weeks and then being disappointed in myself on a weekly basis. Finally, I stopped dwelling and took two chances. I applied to graduate school for sport psychology back in May. It was around the time that the girls I had been coaching for the past two years gave me a photo album with letters they had written to me. This was the push I needed to take that chance to apply and I got into the program. Life instantly became less stressful when I did this. The second chance I took was decided while running at 9,000ft of elevation in Frisco, Colorado. I had new shoes, I was fresh off of my recovery period after track season, and I couldn’t have been in a more beautiful place. I decided that this would be a great training season, then I ran, I ran at that altitude even though I live at sea level and it hurt my lungs the first few times, and I kept running when I came home. I decided to just go for it and have a “perfect” summer of training. I also stopped looking at old logs and comparing what I did then to what I am doing now. Its great to keep logs but it is not wise to torture yourself with your logs and try to compare then to now because things change and things happen that we can not control. Circumstances change, our surroundings change, life changes and we just have to adapt.
I finally ran several 60ish miles weeks and then last Sunday I hit my second ever 70 mile week exactly 6 years after the first time I ran 70 miles in a week. Exactly to the day, 8/24. There are a few substantial differences this time though:
1. I was sick with a migraine one day and I ran these 70 miles in 6 days, last time it took me 7 days to get the 70 miles (this shows I am stronger now)
2. I could walk the day after. My body did not hurt
3. I don’t think I harmed myself physically. I actually felt very very strong. I am 99% sure I will not get mono and ruin my track season this time as a result of running so much.
4. I stopped comparing myself to the runner I was and became the runner I am
5. I am more confident in my training
6. I also realized that there is no such thing as “perfect training”