. . . but fear itself
Or do we?
Striking the balance in training
Running is such a simple sport: one foot in front of another, at whatever pace you want. Except every runner knows it isn’t really as simple as it appears to the non-runner, even when it doesn’t appear simple to the non-runner.
There are a lot of runners out there who run because they simply love to run. They don’t care about their pace and they don’t care if they race or not. I’d like to say running really is simple for them, but even for the non-racing runner, it’s still not simple.
The truth is that runners are prone to injury. Running is good for you, no doubt about it, although you will never be able to convince the non-runner. Our ancestors may have run on a regular basis, but they didn’t generally run marathons every week, and they certainly didn’t pound the pavement.
So let’s all agree: it’s the rare runner that doesn’t end up on the injured list at some point in their life.
Injuries are not only a physical question, which is the most important thing, of course, but also a question of your mind. If you’re thinking: “I’m not going to make it”, “I can’t cope”, “It hurts”, “It’s never going to get better”, then it won’t.
— Luis Suarez
Once you’ve been injured, there’s always a little doubt in the back of your mind: is that little ache my injury returning, or worse yet, a new injury? Should I slow down, run less, run fewer days so I can keep running injury free?
Is the payoff worth it?
I hear it a lot: the point of racing is to have fun. I agree; what’s the point of doing things that aren’t fun? Of doing things that can injure you that aren’t fun?
So some runners play it safe. It’s not that they don’t race hard, but they’re afraid of injury, and maybe they don’t push themselves as hard as they are capable of. I’m quite sure I have fallen into this category on more than one occasion.
If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
— Dale Carnegie
Their thought process is that they don’t want to leave it all on the pavement and then be unable to run due to injury. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Of course, some runners — again, no doubt including me — ignore the warning signs that fear can give us, and push too hard and then, of course, it’s no longer fun.
The case for pushing yourself
Every time I lace up and go out for a long run, often on my own, good or bad, there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing that I am able to run 5, 8, 10, 12 miles. As I ran my 12 mile long run last weekend I thought to myself this is a long way. And it is (although maybe not to the marathoner or ultra runner).
In this particular training cycle, I have worked with Rachel @ Runningonhappy and she has pushed me to run harder than I have in a few years. I won’t say it isn’t scary at times. The last time I did run this hard, working with an online running community, I felt strong, I felt ready . . . and neither of my halfs went well (one due to unseasonable heat, which of course is beyond anyone’s control); the other due to injury, yes.
The same runners who are content to err on the side of caution often also say that they run to challenge themselves. Or that they have learned through running that they are capable of hard things.
You don’t know how hard you can go until you try to go hard. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, sometimes you will fail. Yes, you may even injure yourself and not be able to run for a while.
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
You may also surprise yourself. You may just give yourself a little burst of confidence. You may grow as a runner.
There is no right or wrong way to train . . .
. . . only the right or wrong way to train for you. I hope I’ve given you some food for thought today. I’m not necessarily looking to change the way you train, but I hope today, at some point, you’ll think about it, and decide if it’s serving you well.
There is a fine line between letting fear paralyze you, and ignoring its warning signs and pushing too hard. It’s a difficult line to run.
Do you think you push to hard? Or do you think you let fear hold you back?