I received an email recently from a rundreamachieve.com visitor who was having trouble getting back to the level of running she was at four years ago.
Her patience is running thin, obviously distraught at what has been going on.
She took 2 years off due to job responsibilities and has been fighting for the past 2 years to get back what she gained.
If you have had similar difficulties getting back to fitness perhaps this post could help you.
Is your patience running thin?
I have dealt with this over the years and know exactly where this woman is coming from. She is only 38 and age is not the reason. First, a two year break away from running will obviously take effort and focus to get back to good shape. Her best days are ahead and certainly not behind her.
I'm reading a great book called Millionaire Fastlane by MJ Demarco, although it doesn't relate to running, it does relate to how we view events and process
This woman is highly disciplined, has strong running credentials but her patience is running thin and I don't want her (or anyone) to lose the love of the sport on account of this.
The event, her past running times and training paces, are currently consuming her thoughts.
I know many of you who have read rundreamachieve.com long enough know that I have fell into this trap in my own past.
My patience was running dangerously thin in 2010.
I nearly let go of the sport but I totally wasn't paying attention to the process of running fast times and workouts. Where was my attention going? The event. I ran this fast last year.Why am I not running the same pace this year?
I was totally consumed with something that was not helping me, the past.
The event was the focus, not the process of getting to the goal.
I visualized the sub 2.19.00 time I was training to get in 2010 and to better my 2.19.35 PR. What is 35 seconds?
When your focusing on the event and not the process your putting undue stress on yourself that will do you no good.
My best advice to anyone who is feeling consumed with frustration about running and getting into shape is this.
Take 2 weeks off, don't think about running, splurge, enjoy life.
Time away is crucial for your future success.
Don't let results and times you ran at one time consume you.
It doesn't mean you can't equal or better times and paces you ran in the past.
It simply means your mindset needs adjusted.
Runners are already highly motivated and this woman surely is.
She's hard working, has strong PR's, doesn't smoke or drink.
She has what it takes but it pains me to see this athlete dealing with this frustration.
Here Are A Few Pieces Of Advice That Will Work.
Let go of the event.
Yes, it may sound blunt but truth is, if you focus wholeheartedly about these things worrying if you can or cannot earn these standards you will lose balance. Which brings me to my next piece of advice.
Focus on the process.
Notice I didn't say forget about the event.
The process, the hard work and dedication needed to create a great race is where your focus needs to shift to.
The results will fall in your lap if you have shifted your mindset from worrying about getting back into shape, racing well and running faster times and simply getting immersed in the effort.
I missed the 2008 Olympic Trials.
They were held in November of 2007.
I flew to the Chicago Marathon and dealt with the worst heat in the races history.
75 degrees at the start and pushing 90 degrees by the races end.
I failed miserably that day finishing in 2.51.51 walking and jogging the last 14 miles of the race.
A month earlier I had set a PR of 1.07.06 for the half-marathon.
I was released from the Army WCAP.
I didn't meet the ‘then' Olympic Trials “B” standard time of 2.22.00 needed to stay in and qualify to compete in the Trials.
I took 3 days off, handled hearing, ‘your job is no longer to run, you want to run you will do it on your own time, be at the office for work tomorrow at 0900′.
My focus shifted from worrying about hitting a time and measuring up to simply running for running sake.
The pressure was off and I truly felt that was why I continued to train and broke 2.20.00 less the two months after that disappointing day in Chicago.
Don't be afraid of the failure.
Be afraid of living with regret of never trying.
Far too many people let go of their dreams and goals on account of losing touch with what truly counts, what they are good at, and consuming their attention on people's opinion of what they can and cannot do or the undue pressure they place on themselves.
Don't fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime – Bruce Lee
Focus on what you can control
Could I control the temperatures in Chicago in 2007?
Can we control how we think, how we deal with our circumstances, our environment?
Better racing will come when you let go of race goals and objectives and get immersed in the work itself.
This is so important.
It isn't always easy to do but I have found better results will come faster when race objectives and goals are not taking all your attention.
I am not saying to not have goals.
Don't misunderstand me.
I am simply saying that get fired up about the process that goes into earning the goal time is where your future success will stem from, don't let all your energy and mindset get drained by the race goal itself.
It took some time for me to truly get this.
I came to a full time job status again and highly deployable unit in early 2011, still training to run under 2.19.00 to meet the 2012 Olympic Trials standard.
Although, the best time I put up in late 2011 (November) was 2.26, it was the second fastest marathon I ran since late 2007 (December).
I did it under far harder circumstances being in a combat arms military unit and I surely never ran as fast while having the luxuries of training full-time from late 2009 through early 2011.
I was more effective overall because I wasn't caught up in the past.
I focused on what I could control and that was simply not to give up.
Focus all my energy on giving it the best shot I could and living the rest of my life happy that I didn't quit, that I made an honest effort.
In addition, my workouts were the best I ever did when I was training full time with the Army WCAP Team.
The best 20-mile long run I ever did prior to running 2.19.35 was 1.56.58 and leading into my 2.26 I did a solo 20-miler in 1.50.03.
I was in 2.15 shape.
I made a mistake that learned from (spanning my training block out too far).
My wife said it best.
You should have run a marathon 3 weeks after that workout, rather then 6 weeks (when I placed 5th at the 2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon to run 2.26)
Find balance and zen with your running.
It may sound cliche but truth is, running success will come when you are truly balanced.
You have let go of worrying if you will or will not hit your next workout in the planned pace or hitting your first race in the time you want.
Monitor your diet and iron intake.
This is huge. If your body is running low on iron, you can be as well meaning as you want to be, as motivated as anyone out there, but on a physiological level, your body is not getting oxygen transported to its' working muscles optimally.
I was found to be anemic and learned how important using iron supplements are.
There are many people who don't realize how much iron you lose in your sweat and a far less known way, by foot strike hemolysis.
In laymen's terms, this means you are losing red blood cells and iron from when your feet strike the ground as you run.
According to Yahoo Voices, iron deficiency is many times confused with overtraining and women, rather then men, are far more likely to become anemic.
I, like many athletes who become anemic, did not eat enough meat where large amounts of iron can be found.
The common symptoms of iron deficiency in athletes are loss of interest (particularly in exercise and physical activity), decreased endurance, irritability, chronic fatigue, recurring illness, elevated heart rate when exercising, increased injuries and low power.- Elizabeth Kitchen
In closing, if your patience is running thin, then stop, think about how you have been approaching your training, how are you eating?
Are you taking in enough iron in your diet?
A quick remedy to beat low patience and irritability is to take a 65mg iron tablet with orange juice daily at breakfast, take some time away, treat yourself for your hard work and dedication.
Don't second guess yourself.
You are far better then that. I know it, you know it.
It takes time to become iron deficient and will take time to get your iron levels back to optimal levels to help you get your strength back and most importantly your mindset back to where it needs to be.
My closing thoughts to the woman who wrote me and to all those struggling with their running is this.
You have all the tools and motivation to become a far better runner then you ever thought possible.
Don't give up. Never let up on what you trying to accomplish.
We all have goals and dreams.
You may just need to change your diet like including more meat or iron rich foods into your diet. It could be that simple or it is something else like introducing faster pace running into your training plan.
Perhaps having a coach could help.
People do care and this was the number one reason I made this site.
I have dealt with setbacks, wanted to quit, told I wasn't good enough and love runners who are out there sacrificing and putting in the work regardless what people say.
You are in control, expect it to be hard, expect it to challenge you, but also remember you are doing something that many people aren't willing to do.
The credit belongs to the man(woman) who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat.-Teddy Roosevelt