Good Enough

Thank you so much to Lacy over at Running Limit-less for the feature today! Click over to read about how I run without limits…and a colon 😉

I consider myself a fairly rational individual. I say “fairly” because I am also crazy, just ask my husband. But by and large, I’m even-keeled and lean toward the middle of the road on most things.

Except pie. I believe in eating all the pie. And cake.

Except pie. I believe in eating all the pie. Apple and cherry pie. And cake. But only vanilla/vanilla cake.

But when it comes to running and training, I am as Type A as they come. Too often I hear from runners who are injured or disappointed in their performance that they “did everything right”, only to find out that they were woefully misinformed by someone and were, in fact, doing most things wrong or merely halfway.

The simple fact of the matter is that our bodies are not symmetrical. And we are not the .0001% of the population with ridiculous athletic genes. And you can’t drink 8-10 glasses of booze and eat a half doze cookies on your “cheat day” and be race ready.

Good enough is not enough.

You gotta dig deeper for those results to shine through.

You gotta dig deeper for those results to shine through.

What do I mean by not good enough? Well, here are a few examples and how to tackle the problem of training better than “good enough”:

  • You’re not seeing improvements in your pace after training for 3 months

Problem: Your training schedule and/or effort are sub-par

Fix: Gut check. Are you really putting the work in during your runs? Are you really hitting that max effort? We are all guilty of dogging it in a track workout every now and then. A great way to ensure you leave it all out there during your workouts is to get with a buddy or a group and do it together. Accountability helps!

My accountability buddy is MUCH faster than me. So happy to have her by my side for many, many vomit-inducing track workouts!

My accountability buddy is MUCH faster than me. So happy to have her by my side for many, many vomit-inducing track workouts!

  • You keep getting overuse injuries

Problem: Your training schedule is too intense, doesn’t include the right (or any at all) strengthening exercises, or you’re not getting enough rest between workouts and/or training cycles.

Fix: The simplest fix for this may just be to take a break, see a Physical Therapist, and start over. Or fire your coach. Or both. Here’s the thing: the body, as a moving entity, is not rocket science. When you get hurt there’s a reason, asymmetry and weakness being two of the biggest culprits.

And if your coach is having you push through or ignore injury instead of addressing it, fire them. Or maybe you’re not listening to your coach…or your body?

Hmmmm...

Hmmmm…

  • You keep getting the same injury

Problem: The injury has never really healed from last time or your strength training routine isn’t specific enough

Fix: It’s sooooo easy to ramp things up to 11 once you are pain-free post-injury. The problem is, once you’ve sustained an injury, you will always be more susceptible to re-injury. Doing your home exercises, adhering to your strength training program, and taking adequate rest are life-long steps to avoiding the IR list.

And sometimes it's sitting this race out in favor of coming back stronger for the next one.

And sometimes it’s sitting this race out in favor of coming back stronger for the next one.

  • You work out at 10/10 effort, but just can’t seem to get your times down

Problem: Your workout schedule is too heavy, your rest days are inadequate, and/or your diet stinks

Fix: Rest more. Rest often. Eat real food. Prioritize the really important runs and workouts and take a break from the extraneous ones. Recovery time is just as important as strength and endurance. Without rest, your body will never be able to work at its maximum potential.

All are equally important.

All are equally important.

Start by being honest with yourself. Then enlist the help of experts–actual experts, for training and rehab, if need be. Be patient, work hard, and be honest with yourself and your team about what you are doing and not doing. 

I promise this will make a world of difference.

Now go out and run!

Getting Out the Door

Have you ever started your training season and had to talk yourself off the ledge into actually starting? Like, a pep talk to get your butt out the door?

Or maybe you started back at school this week and almost had a panic attack about the pending weeks and days and hours ahead of sitting on your butt, freezing in the classroom, knowing only too well that you have a ridiculous amount of work to do OUT of said frozen tundra of a classroom.

…just me?

Break out the winter coats, folks. The A/C is set at 20 below.

Break out the winter coats, folks. The A/C is set at 20 below.

“We are all cowards at the start line.” ~Alberto Salazar

I love this quote because no matter how many start lines I toe, it rings true. I have to talk myself into starting just about every race I do. Usually because I cannot fathom running as far or as fast as I’ve set my goal.

Fear of failure, I guess. But really, it’s finishing in a respectable time and fashion.

I don’t want to crawl across the finish line or puke as I get my medal.

Totally puked after my first marathon. You can see my tummy is full of Gatorade. Thank you, Indian Summer, for the 83 degree November day.

Totally puked after my first marathon. You can see my tummy is full of Gatorade. Thank you, Indian Summer, for the 83 degree November day.

And I don’t want to hate every step I take.

But I will hate some of those miles. And I will hate being in class some of the days. I mean, hours and hours of lecture wears on you no matter how interesting the material. And miles and miles of running can make you crazy no matter how beautiful the day.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mountains are pretty but HOLY SMOKES was I glad to be done with those runs.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mountains are pretty but HOLY SMOKES was I glad to be done with those runs.

So, how do I get myself out the door for a long run when I’m panicked about the distance? How do I gear up for (what will sum up to) 5.5 years of post-graduate school in my thirties? (I’M SO OLD!!!!)

Guys, it’s all about your team.

I text, email, tweet, and send smoke signals to any and all my runner friends that I need a running buddy. Even if it’s only for a few of the miles in my monster long runs with someone I’ve never met except online, a buddy gets me out the door and running.

I have to meet them. And I look forward to chatting for as long as they’ll tolerate my company.

Sometimes it's a few dozen friends, sometimes it's just one. I'm not picky.

Sometimes it’s a few dozen friends, sometimes it’s just one. I’m not picky.

If I don’t have anyone to run with, I text Birdie and complain. And then she tells me to go because the sooner I start, the sooner I can finish and eat all the salt.

And if I can’t get a hold of anyone, I trick myself.

“Just go out for 5 and, if you feel good, keep going.”

“Well, you’re at 10. May as well kick a 5K in.”

“15 is only 5 away from 20.”

Seriously, I have this negotiation with myself at the start of almost every long run. It’s normal (I think) to not feel like you want to run 22 miles every Saturday. And it’s normal (dear God, I hope) not to love every single minute of grad school.

Sometimes you fall asleep on your notes. It's normal.

Sometimes you fall asleep on your notes. It’s normal.

It’s not all roses. It’s not all awesome. But if you have a goal, you gotta get through the sucky days, the sucky runs, to reap the benefits of having finished. Of having reached the finish line and having that medal placed around your sweaty neck.

You gotta earn it.

Now go out and run.

Tell me: Have you had a recent crappy/intimidating run that you had to talk yourself into doing? Do you negotiate? Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who bribes herself with food. That’s normal, right?