"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Where do we go from here?

As mysteriously as asthma came more than a year ago, it's suddenly gone and I've started running again - though very little and very slowly, as a year off is just slightly better than death to performance.

I'd done some thinking about what I'd do if I could start running again and here's how it went:

1) I really don't enjoy long races. You train forever and any little thing could ruin the day and then you're a mess for weeks or months. Otherwise, you're not really racing; you're just out there. The crowd that has the income to waste on frequent overpriced races (and then just showing up) is irritating me and I don't want to be part of it.

2) Track races are too infrequent and are the province of the supremely talented. I thought about Bill Fraser's over-55 mile of 4:55, which was once the world record and now is only the Minnesota record. Age-graded, that's like running a 4:09 when I was running 4:30. That's not going to happen for me and not breaking 5 is just a little sad (like knowing a sub-3 marathon is probably not in the cards again either).

3) I do well in bad conditions. Unfortunately, races have polarized into ridiculously hard trail races and perfectly smooth road races. No one competes against other runners any more on the roads, so it's all a matter of time - so the races have become flat and boring. Tactics, strategy and positional running mean nothing. The trail races are full of specialists. I'm not running under the worst possible conditions just to say I did it.

4) That leaves me with entering a ton of road races and waiting for bad weather, when the top runners either don't show or put in only a token effort. I can't do that either.

5) Finishing 188th of 13212 does not appeal to me.

That pretty much leaves me with continued retirement, with an occasional race when I wake up and feel good and can find something that still allows race day registration.


Karen said...

I disagree with you on #3, but maybe your local running scene is polar opposite of mine? Most of my local races are free to the running club members. It's a bib and a finish time. Almost none of the courses are flat. It forces people to compete against each other rather than go for time.

Even though I'm not fast enough to win, I still manage to find someone to race. My main competitor is a 62 year old guy named Bob that HATES when I beat him. It's always a duel to the finish with us. I regularly race against a couple others of various ages too.

Olga King said...

"a year off is just slightly better than death to performance" - couldn't agree more. I ran a mile on a TM today at 10:54 (had inserted 2x0.2M 5% hills to not get bored). That's a start, right? Alas, agree on #1 too - I used to, but with aging (and many, many dozens, over a 100 of them completed), the idea is right: too long of a correct training for one thing that a stubbed toe can ruin (or sudden absence of ice which will shut down stomach processing in the heat), all weekends are taken up by long runs, and then it takes at least a full month (once you are not 30's anymore) to get normal again. Track races never inspired me (I am slow for that) - although track workouts always did. Big races (a.k.a. #5) suck too. Leaves with local road races and occasional short(er) trail races in destinations I would visit otherwise (so I can travel and check out places after). We should talk:)

Alene Gone Bad said...

The racing scene has changed, both on the roads and in trail ultras. What blows me away are the number of people who show up and sign up for these events, and do so many of them. I've never been able to afford that many races or that much traveling, but also, my body has never been able to handle more than a few ultras a year.

I have observed the polarization of race events too. Here in Colorado it's all trails, and I no longer run trails due to my ankles. I have to go out of state to find road or track races and they are a challenge to find. Still searching for those elusive 100Ks which have all but been replaced by 12 hour races in loops.

My strategy has been to find the races I enjoy the most and just do them, and I try one new race a year for variety. Occasionally I am lucky enough to find a race I really enjoy.

I don't feel like I'm missing out, because I don't like crowds and I'm not into the social scene. There are certain people I enjoy seeing at these events but in general, I tend to spend my pre-race time avoiding everyone.

I run races either as destination events- as a tourist- like Badwater- or as a race, like North Coast, and when I'm racing, I go because I expect to have some competition. That isn't always the case.

That said, I have accepted that as I age, I will be at a competitive disadvantage in shorter races, but if my body and budget can handle it, I can always move to longer events if I have that thirst for competition.

If not, I feel happy with what I've accomplished in running and I have other things in my life that bring me a lot of happiness too. I've always been able to take breaks from running and know that it will be there when I decide to come back.

Londell said...

I really have come to enjoy the bicycle

Carilyn said...

It seems like many of us are having some existential angst with our running. Hubz doesn't understand why I don't like to do races where I'm "just out there" - because it's too damn long for just pleasure. Anyway, I hope you get your mojo back. And then let me know where I can find mine :)