Saturday, June 1, 2013

New Perspectives on Racing

It's been awhile since I posted a blog entry.
Over the next month or so, I will be posting reviews of the Skechers GORun2, Salomon S-Lab Mantra, New Balance MT1010, Skora Form, SCOTT Racerocker [and giveaway!], a Camelbak vest, and more. Concomitantly, co-blogger Jordan Parro and I will begin a series of weekly or bimonthly posts on training advice for new runners based on our respective experiences.  Keep a look out!

Anyway, my next two races are the Newton 10k (tomorrow) and the Spectacle Island 5k (next Saturday).
When I first started working with Coach Caleb Masland of Team Wicked Bonkproof last September, my goals as a runner were a bit different compared to what they are now. Initially, I wanted to run ultramarathons; specifically, trail and mountains ultras. And... I wanted to run them immediately. Given my racing experience prior to that (1 road 5km and 1 trail 10km), I can safely say that I was borderline delusional to think I could run an ultramarathon, let alone a marathon.

Over the last nine months working with Caleb, I've gotten quite a bit faster without working too much on my speed [until the last 5 or so weeks]. I've gotten faster by consistent and constantly changing workouts. (If you have ever contemplated getting a coach, I highly recommend Caleb.) My 5km pace in April 2012 was about a 7:38min/mi pace. That was an all-out effort, too. My March 2013 5km pace, with not a lot of speed training, was a 6:49min/mi pace. That was not an all-out effort [thought it was a bit difficult]. In fact, I've run up to 14mi at a 7:38min/mi pace in training runs since working with Caleb. Granted, I was a bit tired for about a week after that! Since the end of April 2013, Caleb has had added speed training to my schedule, and I've gotten a bit quicker [I'll write a race report after the 10km race tomorrow].

Where does this leave me? I think the two most important changes that I've seen concerning my perspective on racing since working with Caleb is to respect the distance and to be prepared for a race. I see a lot of people registering for and running long and hard races that are probably not as prepared as they could be. Of course, everyone has a different, equally as relevant perspective on racing. I am fully-aware that my perspective is personal and, probably, relevant only to myself. With that being said, though, I honestly cannot imagine enjoying a race where I "bonk" due to not being prepared. That happened to me in 2012 twice [before working with Caleb] and, quite frankly, it sucked. It doesn't suck because I had to walk; rather, it sucks because I wasn't prepared. Honestly, there aren't many reasons to bonk up to half-marathon distance [except unexpected heat or heat at the beginning of the season, asthma, injury, and the like]. For those that have raced or run longer distances, I would love to hear your thoughts on bonking.  Caveat: when I say bonk, I'm referring to both the DNF-type bonk and the never-recover-type bonk. Another caveat: I think it's very important to leave one's "comfort zone" to try a new distance, but I think there's probably a proper way/time to do so [i.e., to not leave one's comfort zone impulsively over and over].

Doing something that you are not prepared for because you have not taken the time and hard work, not to mention the development of patience throughout the process, to prepare for a race... how does this reflect one's life philosophy? Has this philosophy prevented you from reaching career and life goals? This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately since I will be submitting my medical school applications on June 4, 2013.

Which brings me to my next question: why run a race one isn't prepared for? Is it to prove something to yourself? To others? Only you know the answer to that question.

Anyway, I'm going to focus on races that I am prepared for. Currently, I feel like I am prepared for races up to a half-marathon... maybe up to 25km. I may register for a late-fall marathon, but my goal is to get faster and faster up to the half-marathon/15mi distance. I'll definitely race my first marathon before next May [2014] barring injuries. Running fast feels awesome. Maybe it's just me, but I love the feeling of pushing myself hard on the road and on the trail for extended periods of time.

Do I want to run ultramarathons? Absolutely! When will that happen? When I feel physically and mentally prepared to run one [irrespective of pace]. For now, I am having a blast trying to get faster and faster at races at and below the 25km/half-marathon distance. I'm only 26 and, barring injuries and poor health, I have many, many years of running ahead of me. What's the "rush"?

I would love to hear more about your philosophy of racing. I am always open to correction and different viewpoints!

Thanks for reading this post,

Joshua N.

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