Adding Purpose to My Training

The question is not so much if we can do something.

The real question is, what is the purpose of what we are doing, and how will we do it?

As a runner this has been my Achilles heel.

What is the purpose of my my running and how will I do it?

An old race photo – Patriots Day 5.0 Miler

Over the years, I have based too much of my training and thinking about my running on “I think I can.”, then not have any real idea of how to go about doing what I think I can do. Yeah, a pretty damn big gap usually existed between my beliefs and reality.

With this most recent Achilles tendon/left leg issue, I started to get down in the dumps a little yesterday. Yeah, my frustration was showing through. Then I watched too many YouTube running videos, which got me thinking about my running and how I have the wrong perspective on how to get to where I want to go with it.

My running in the future has to focus on the process of how I am going to achieve a goal and getting out of my tendency of relying on the fantasy that I can just run, and things will spontaneously come together for me.

To move forward with my running, I need a purpose for running beyond simply running. That isn’t enough for me to do the “other stuff” that I must do to achieve what I believe I can do as a runner. Becoming the runner that I want to be will mean sacrifices, changes, and being more disciplined.

So where to start.

This blog post lays out the initial framework of the direction I will be going, and I know that I will need to be flexible to meet changing or challenging conditions/situations that I may or may not have control over.

Now to get out of the funk that I was heading towards and develop an achievable goal, but challenging enough that I have to work hard as hell to do it.

Second I know that I have been a head case most of my running career and been my own worst enemy. I have a certain amount of ability and for the most part have wasted the opportunities I have had to become the runner that I believe I could be. Not the runner in the fantasies of my mind, but one that could be competitive in his age group and now is time to explore that potential, before my time is done. I don’t want to live with the regret of what might have been. It is time to do it.

Yes, I want to run a marathon again, and I will, but not in 2021. With this Achilles issue, my base training will not be enough to be fit for a Fall marathon.

Well, what is it?

Win my age group at the Old Port Half Marathon on October 23, 2021.

It means that I will probably have to break 1:38:00 to be competitive since the winning time in 2019 was 1:38:42, and I am sure that other runners in my age group will chomping at the bit to run well by then too. Running a sub 1:38:00 would be just over a 3:00 minute PR for the half marathon, but it is within my ability to do.

How will I do this?

That is the question.

First up, I have moved my watch from the left wrist to the right wrist.

What is the big deal about that?

It signifies that I am making changes. I have worn a watch on my left wrist since I started wearing watches as a teenager. This physically moving my watch will remind me that I am making moves to do things differently from what I have in the past. Try putting your watch on the opposite wrist for a day, you notice a significant difference.

Plus, I won’t have to turn off the damn GPS as often when I put my left hand in a pocket or walk the dog. The watch start/stop button gets pushed and I have to delete an activity all too often. Think about where the start buttons are on a Garmin in relation to your left hand. 🥴

Rehab and strengthen the left Achilles/foot, along with my other major problem areas – both hamstrings. The Achilles still hurts even while walking after three weeks, so it is time to do it correctly versus my random attempts to fix myself. While the hamstrings do not bother me now. When I begin to ramp up training, they will become more of an issue, so I want to get ahead of the curve this time. My experience is when I follow Bruce Wilk’s Running Recovery Program, I get better and have fewer issues in the future. Now to do it for both areas and not expect spontaneous healing, but a progression back to running well, at some point in May.

While my running form is my running form, there are tweaks that I can do to make myself more efficient and less prone to injury. So once I get back to running without gimping, it will be time to video myself running and see where those areas are. While I am getting myself back in running shape, I will incorporate the changes that I need to make as a part of my recovery and return to running.

After getting the rehab done and I am back to training, continue with the preventative exercises, warm-up, cool-down, plyometrics, and weight-lifting to keep the muscles/ligaments stronger.

Lose the COVID-19 weight that came with the pandemic last year. If I want to run a sub 1:38:00 for the half, I will need to weigh under 145 pounds. Carrying around the extra flubber will not help me achieve my goal. I know what to do, now to do it.

Trust the training plan. Don’t be an idiot. Halfway through the training plan, don’t move on to the next shiny training thing, as I have done so often. I have access to the Stryd website and their half marathon training plan. It is based on power, which I believe will help control the worst of my erratic and flawed training practices, thus avoiding the boom then busted Harold training pattern that I so often follow. Yeah, trust the training plan you are using.

Look at the data and follow trends to learn more about myself from the running metrics that Stryd and Garmin provide. However, I can’t let myself become so immersed in the rabbit holes that they can lead to that I forget that it what I do as a runner that matters, not numbers, dots on a graph, or all the other wonderful metrics that technology can provide to me.

I still have to run, and I will run better than I have in a long time.

Also, I have to practice racing. Going into the Old Port Half Marathon and not having done any racing before that day isn’t going to work. I want to get in at least one race every month prior at a variety of distances. Doing these races will help me see how I am progressing and give me opportunities to work on my race anxiety issues, willingness to push myself hard, and practice showing up for the competition that they provide.

I need these extra races to show up on October 23rd, relaxed, confident, and ready to run hard to achieve my goal.

Finally, let’s talk about running shoes. Yeah, my favorite thing to talk about, or so it seems. Running shoes do not make the runner, but they influence how well they perform. If a pair of running shoes fit well, are comfortable, and have a bit of pop, they can help you, and if they don’t, you will be in misery when you get to the finish line. I have been there, done that, and know that being in misery does not help you race or even run well.

So I have to find both racing and training shoes that fit well, are comfortable and have a LOT of pop. None of the shoes in my current rotation meet all those criteria.

I do have Atreyu’s The Artist coming in sometime this month, and for trainers, ASICS Nimbus Lite 2 will also be here shortly. I would love to believe that both of these will be great shoes for me, but I am also realistic, and based on experience, well…we will see.

If they are not the answer, I will go to Fleet Feet in Portland to get fitted properly. If this fitting is necessary, it will probably happen sometime in May or early June.

Usually, this would bother me to no end, but with the rehab process starting, no real training happening until probably mid-May, running shoes are not a huge issue right now. I have enough to get through to when I get back to running well.

The reality is that

I have been rudderless with my running for too many years.

Yes, I have run a lot but not had any purpose in doing so, other than putting miles on my legs. When I look at my running logs over the past few years, racing was practically non-existent. There were no races in 2020 (pandemic), one race in 2019, and only a handful in 2018 or 2017.

Due to my haphazard training, I was injured too many times to race well or often. That old boom or bust training that didn’t work so well for me. Then add in my race anxiety issues that have haunted me for far too many years. Combining the two were a recipe for none to very little racing for far too long.

Having the goal of winning my age group at the Old Port Half Marathon gives me a purpose to my running through the end of October. A reason to train correctly, not simply run haphazardly. After that I have another purpose that will take its place, but let’s complete this goal before getting too far ahead of myself, which has been another problem that I am attempting to deal with as well.

It is now up to me to do the work and get to the Old Port Half Marathon’s finish line in a sub 1:38:00 time. It will not be easy and will challenge me to the best of my current abilities. This goal is exactly what I need to be the runner that I believe I can be.

I hope there is not some other gray-haired guy out there training to run the Old Port Half in a sub 1:37:00 hehehehe. That might throw a real monkey wrench into my plans, but I have zero control over that and will shake his hand to congratulate him and chuckle a bit. However, he will have me closer than he thought at the end.

Although I will trust my training, stick to my race pace plan, and let the chips fall where they may.

Time to get to work.

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8 Comments

  1. Good luck training for the half this fall. I have time when I feel the same as you – I should have more purpose in my running – and times when I just want to relax and have fun. What is the most difficult is to stop comparing myself to the younger me.

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    1. Thank you, there is a renewed sense of purpose, yeah I know 🤪 with my running today. I have been loosey-goosey with my running for too long and need to get the structure back into it and now take on the head games that I tend to play with myself to self-sabotage my running. If I do that I will be fine. I have already defeated that one at 63, I know that I can’t ever run the times I used to run, and now it is more about the times that are still within my ability to hit – providing I do almost everything correctly.

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  2. That’s an awesome goal, Harold! And I think practicing racing is a great concept, something that should be a part of training plans and typically isn’t. All the best for getting through the rehab and killing the training. I’m pulling for you.

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    1. Running just one race, does not prepare you for the race atmosphere or give you an opportunity to try the different strategies that an actual race brings to the table. Other races will not be an “a” race, but they will make me work harder than a workout by myself. Off the shelf training plans need to be customized to fit your needs/preferences and knowledge set. Thank you. it is a scary goal to put out in public, but I have confidence it is one that I can do and will do my best to see it through. 🙂

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