How do you view yourself as a runner? Is it fast, or slow, or somewhere in the middle? Do you care about speed or is it more about the exercise and experience? Do you view yourself as a "runner" at all?
Full disclosure here ... I'm a rapidly declining, thin-haired, average-to-somewhat-below-average in attractiveness, wrinkly, chronically cranky, 46-year-old grandfather of three (and soon to be four!!!). The internal disconnect is that I mostly still view myself as a young, strapping, 18-year-old mullet-wearing lady-killa. Yeah ... you know it, girl! In my mind, it seems perfectly logical that I should be able to operate at the same efficiency and effortlessness as I did when I was a teen. But everyday new aches and pains, and sometimes life troubles, remind me that this aging dog might be losing the ability to learn new tricks. And lately, this seems to parallel with my running.
I like to go fast. Yes, fast is relative. And my fast might be someone else's really fast or really slow. But your fast doesn't concern me ... it never has. That's your business. I just like to keep going fast as it relates to my times. It's part of why I run. Of course I enjoy the "running experience" and try not to get "consumed" with results, but I love the challenge of trying to improve my performance. But lately, I just don't seem to be creating the leg turnover and quickness that I need for my "fast". And while it really seems to be in my head a little, there's no reason for it to be.
For starters, until recently, my training was greatly diminished with some hip inflammation that I couldn't seem to shake. I feel like it's all behind me now because I haven't even felt a hint of it in several weeks, but it definitely slowed me down. Also ... I'm overweight. No, not heavy or obese ... just overweight for me ... see the "fast" paragraph above. Right now I'm about 10-12 lbs from my "fast" weight, and weight is a sure-fire speed-sapper. Also, I haven't been doing many speed drills to increase leg speed, or core drills for a good strong mid-section to support good form. So with a combination of these three causes, mixed with mild lack of motivation from time to time, the effect is my training times are really down this year compared to past years.
But the challenge for me is accepting my current conditioning and being patient during the rebuild. And by challenge ... I mean I don't handle it very well. I just set too high of a standard for myself. Just like the ridiculous "young view" I have of myself sometimes, I compare my current times with my fastest times when I was in peak condition, and then get frustrated when I'm nowhere near them. The rational me understands that it will take a while to build the conditioning and speed back, and frankly and since I'm not getting any younger, there's a chance that my fastest days are behind me. However, the competitive me that still see's me as a youngster says, "Screw that ... I'm not done!!!" Honestly, it's a bit of a struggle at times to keep a positive attitude about running when my times are slower than they've been in a while.
So this Summer will be a good test for me. I really do think I have some of my fastest races left in me, but who knows. I DO know that if I put too high of expectations on myself, I might die during training trying to hit the old times. It will be a slow rebuild, and I have to accept it ... but I don't have to like it. And yes, even if I never hit the old times again, I'll still enjoy the process. And who knows, maybe I'll grow a Summer training mullet. B'ness in the front, party in the back!
... Be Great Today!