I was watching the paralympics in September and I noted that they had different classes of athletes. I listened and learned that depending on the severity of their disability determined what class they were competing in. For example, in one class of swimmers, the disability was limited to range of motion, while another class, a limb was missing. I also watched some sprints and noticed that runners with two blades as opposed to one blade, made up a lot of ground toward the end of the race — making me wonder if allowing Oscar Pretorius to run in the last Olympics set an unfair precedent…kind of like a high jumper using a pogo stick.
Setting all that aside, one thing caught my attention. It was communicated that athletes with disabilities don’t like to be referred to as “inspiring” or that their effort was “inspirational.” No, instead, they just wanted to be known as athletes and their effort to be what it was — their best effort. I guess saying their effort was “inspirational” draws the attention to their disability rather than to their effort/performance.
So, what does that mean to your everyday runner? Well, yeah, we CAN still find inspiration in others’ efforts who overcome challenges, but what I think this means to everyday runners is that it’s not your weight, it’s not your pace, it’s not your age, it’s not what injury you’re coming off of, and it’s definitely not your finishing time that matters. What matters is your effort.
We all know that some training runs and some races are going to go better than others. And we know that sometimes that 5-mile run felt like a 10-miler and how sometimes that 10-mile run felt like we could have ticked off at least two more miles with no problem.
I personally think that sometimes runners fall in love with their watches way too much. Our pace stinks one day and we try to push through that weird fatigue and end up falling apart and lucky to even finish our run . . . we go home, depressed, feeling defeated, wondering what’s wrong because our watch said we stunk it up that run.
But what would have happened if we didn’t use a watch all the time and based our runs on effort? Yes, I understand that we need to have “easy” days, but maybe a couple times a week, don’t run by your watch; run by your effort.
In other words, run at a the pace you know that stresses you a bit but doesn’t drop you . . . one day that COULD mean a pace that is a minute faster than normal, while on another day, that COULD mean a pace that is a minute slower than normal…, (only you won’t be for sure because you’re not running with your watch), but at the end of both runs, you should be feeling about the same level of fatigue. Why “kill” yourself to maintain a pace you know your body can’t handle on a certain day, but your watch is still saying, “Run Faster, RUN FASTER!”
That watch could lead to you dreading the next run rather than anticipating it. Instead, use your watch once or so a week and let it guide you during that run in order to train at a certain pace, if you’re doing speed work, or to just check how you’re doing. This way, you start looking forward to wearing your watch that one day to monitor your progress rather than thinking, Oh man, I hope I can do it today . . . . You allow yourself to be mentally prepared to do that once-a-week (or so) test rather than testing yourself every run. I mean, think about it this way: in high school or college, it would stink if you had a test every time you walked into a certain class, wouldn’t it? But a test every now and then to check to make sure you knew what was being taught was a good thing (didn’t let you fall behind/helped you to monitor your progress).
So, why make every run a test? Instead, test yourself once a week or so, but spend your other runs running based on effort – you’ll know if you gave a good effort, and then make your evaluation of your run based on your effort. Chances are good that you’ll start having a lot more “good” runs (good efforts)! And since we all know running is at least 60 percent (some say it’s much more) “mental,” it’s a win-win!!
Have an awesome run today!
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