My favorite radio show in the world, This American Life, had a show introducing a ficticious magazine called Modern Jackass (I initiallly errouneously posted it as “American jackass” , so this is the corrected post),. It is full of material that you know just a little bit about (as in, you saw a Discovery Channel show on something, you read a internet news blurb, etc), but yet you discuss it as if you have some great knowledge of the topic, even throwing in a handful of technical terms, but all the while you really just have this limited experience. (As a side note, I listen to This American Life podcasts as work…some times I find myself laughing out loud, or holding back tears…if you have never heard the show, and have time to listen to a podcast or 2..you should). We’ve all done this. Today I found myself doing it about those plastic bottles that are supposedly bad. I sited a study a heard about on the radio and then realized, “I really know nothing about this! I am NOT a chemist.” There you go, Modern Jackass. Anyhow, where am I going with this? well, Jane, asked for some ultra advice. I’ve never met Jane, but she has a cool blog. Anyhow, for what it is worth, for anyone who gives a crap, here are a few little tidbits I’ve come to live my in my…gulp….20 years of running! Don’t know if I still qualify as an Modern Jackass, but I am pretty sure I do:
The picture is from the Vermont 100, where I didn’t necessiarly follow my own advice the whole time. But, I have learned: you have to believe you can do it, and never underestimate the power of positive thinking. Not that I always do this, but I find if I at all doubt myself, I inevitably struggle. Think your way out of any little thing being an “issue”. If you think it will be a problem, it will become one.
If all else fails, suck it up, you signed on for this, and now you are in if for the long haul. It’s not like someone forced you to do this, so quit being a baby. When I get tired and cranky, this is what I think. I end up getting angry, and once I work through my anger, I can come out on the other side and revert back to positive thinking.
Train just enough to feel confident you’ll finish. Ok, this is one thing I am pretty good at. I just don’t give a crap what other folks are doing to train. I like to hear about it, and take what I want from it, but if someone needs to do a 50 mile training run, and I feel like that will just wear me out, and I am good about sticking to my plan, and not feeling pressured to do more. Same goes the other way. If I committed myself to a long run, I am pretty good about sticking with it (pretty good…not perfect!)
Less is more. More often I am finding that not running tons of miles works better, for me at least. I just wear down when I do a lot. I am sure it works for elite runners who don’t have a lot of other outside responsibilities (like a 50 hour work week). So, I don’t beat myself up over not doing mega long runs. I just try to be consistent, doing them regularly, so they build on each other. I know a lot of folks who have finished 100s on 20-30 mile runs.
I always say over and over “this is supposed to be fun”. Running races is a luxury. It shouldn’t be drudgery. If it feels that way to me, I really need to shift my thinking to get positive again.
I have found that using some of my running strategies has helped me get through doing other things I didn’t really want to. Like periods of frustration at work. Someone once told me she didn’t understand people who don’t want to work. She said “something could happen to you one day where you really can’t work, then all you’ll do is wish you could work. Better enjoy working now while you can.” It was good advice.
Enjoy your running now while you can.