After about five and a half years as a runner, I've come to a crossroads. Running just didn't seem to be enough. Beating a PR or training for a new distance just doesn't cut it. I've run with running clubs and found that people who love running as much as I do are WAY faster, and the people as slow as I am are in it for the social aspect. Which is great, after all, we are social animals and people need to connect to those of similar interests. But NOT being social is precisely why I started running in the first place.
I've run in tons of races. 8 marathons to date, tons of other shorter, or as I like to say, "faster" distances (only two 5ks though), and all of the training in between. After four straight years of always setting a PR, literally always, progress plateaued. I stopped building my weekly mileage and topped out somewhere in the 50s. And I dialed back as I became not hurt, but less motivated to run. Thursday nights became more about where I was going to meet the guys for wings than planning my cross training for the night.
Since I first laced up my $60 New Balance <insert model # here>, I've continuously been in training mode. Winter 2010-2011 was the first time I didn't do some serious base work. No weekly long runs or midweek semi-long runs or moderate tempo workout every other week. And I absolutely hated it. I hated running a ton, but I hated NOT running a ton even more. Dabbling in weight training, I packed on about 10 lbs, of which about fifty percent was muscle. Maybe 50%. But the constant grind of running for the sake of logging the days miles just was not enough.
Clubs, racing, training, racing, training, training, training...you get the drift, it all became the white noise in the background of my life. Sure, I still logged 40 and 50 mile weeks and was as fit as I have ever been, but it wasn't rewarding. It simply did not fill the void that running had always done for me in the past.
The first four years of my running journey were the best - everything was new, I always set PRs, I ate healthy religiously (seriously, I had a miniature temple to broccoli in my basement, don't tell my wife), and the people in my life were proud of me for making a positive turn.
But somewhere over the past 18 months that wasn't enough. And then a business contact of mine stopped into my office and proudly declared his intent to break 22 minutes in a 5K. I smiled, loving another runner's enthusiasm. We emailed back and forth. I emailed him a few workouts and even raced with him once, and he emailed me his progress. I am proud to say that he made it under 21 minutes, not 22 minutes, this year, and next year he is determine to break 20. Well done my friend.
I've found that as I spoke with my friend and mentored other runners who had plateaued, my enthusiasm has come back. My zest for training, nutrition, and racing is back, with a vengeance. I've spent the better part of 2011 trying to beef up my knowledge and experience, all so I can share it with others. The first few years were spent taking, and now it is time for me to give back. Happy birthday running, here it comes. Time will tell if this gift is one to take back for in store credit.
I hope you enjoy the blog and keep reading. Over the next weeks, months, or however long I keep this up, I'll share my story, keep readers in the loop with the latest training, nutrition, and sport science research (that is written down to my level, anyways), and who knows, maybe this blog can serve as a platform for others to inspire themselves and the people around them.