If I want to move forward in my running, I need to answer the following questions:
- Why do I run?
- Where am I now?
- What I want to do going forward?
I have been doing a lot of thinking about those three questions as I get further into my sixties and, out of necessity, my running evolves. As a result of this reflection process, I have found that things that used to be important…well, they aren’t as important as I once believed they were.
It has taken a while to be able to articulate the answers into something that makes some sort of sense. However, it was something that needed doing more than I realized when I started.
Why do I run?
Running is a part of who I am.
Life is about how you spend your time. That is how I measure the importance of something — how much time do you make for something and devote to making yourself better or more knowledgeable about what you are doing.
I make time to run and learn more about running.
Yes, it is that simple.
I could go into a long spiel about how running improves my life and all the other stuff it does for me. I think saying “running is a part of who I am,” says everything I need to say.
Where I am now
That is, after, I cut through the bullshit about who I think I am as a runner.
It is pretty obvious that I am a stubborn, injury-prone old fart, who has the attention of a gnat and has a difficult time finishing a training plan even close to what it calls for. I also tend to jump from one running philosophy to a different one without thinking about the longer-term ramifications on my running before doing it.
In other words, I am an inconsistent runner (at best), in a sport that demands that you be consistent if you want to do well for the long haul. This inconsistency is why I have a few periods where I do well and many others where I am either injured or not prepared to run or race well.
This is where I am now:
- My latest time trial for a 5K was over 25:00 minutes
- On my latest training run for a 10K, I am above 55:00 minutes
- During July and August, I ran over 140 miles (ca. 225 km) each month and will most likely be over 120 miles (ca. 193 km) for September
- My average pace for all runs in 2021 is 9:34
- My current Stryd Critical Power is 238
- Due to my Achilles Tendonosis in my left leg, 7-8 miles is as far as I can currently run without it becoming an issue. I have been doing the Alfredson Heel Drop protocol since July to help resolve this, and it seems to be getting better — oh so slowly.
- I have had issues with both: Achilles, calves, hamstrings, and my right hip at various times over the last 10 years.
- I was diagnosed with a Tailor’s Bunionette (the Ortho offered to do surgery to fix it — I declined) in 2014 that creates issues with the outside of my right foot. This also creates fit issues for many running shoes that have straps/overlays or stitching in that area. Moreover, if I land for a prolonged time on the outside edge of the right foot (which when I am running well, I tend to do), and the discomfort impacts my stride.
- I was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome in 2007, after I hit my chest with a crowbar while removing a stump and needed to be hospitalized overnight. My doc and the cardiologist seemed to think it wasn’t that big of a deal and that I could go back to running without restrictions, although they weren’t too keen on me doing a marathon. For the most part, it doesn’t bother, but once in a while it flares up and is rather unsettling. I tread lightly for a few days after it happens.
- Otherwise, I am as healthy as I have been in a while
- The pandemic changed the world, and since February 2020, when I chose semi-lockdown to be my norm and not been a part of the local running community. I have not run with anyone besides my wife, and that has only been a couple of times.
- I haven’t raced much since 2016 due to my pre-race anxiety demons
- Pre-race anxiety and confidence have been issues I have dealt with since I was in high school and have been the reason for me not racing or participating in the local running community as much as I could have. I put too much pressure on myself on what I should be able to do and not enough emphasis on reality.
I could probably add in a bunch of other stuff, but the above list gives a pretty good idea of the runner I am now.
What do I want from my running?
- Strive to be the best runner I can be as a 64-year-old, within the limitations I have.
This is all about accepting where I am now as a runner and taking the steps to improve that runner. Not the fantasy one that keeps getting in the way of real improvement.
I know that my ceiling is not as high as others, but I also know that many of the limitations I have can be overcome, and I can get closer to that ceiling than I am now.
- Enjoy racing well.
I know that I need to work more on showing up ready to run my best for that day, enjoying the company of other runners, and let go of the idea of could’ve, would’ve, should’ve that has dominated my post-race thinking.
All too often, racing well, often meant focusing on running a particular race, finish on the podium, qualify (for you know what), or run x time for y distance. Those are great goals, but I wonder how much focusing so much on those things, takes away the joy of running for many of us. I know that it has for me for far too many years.
My thoughts about what it means to race well, are changing and will continue to change as I get older. They have to if I want to do more than run by myself for the rest of the time that I am a runner. Which is not something that I want going forward.
Getting re-involved with the local running community is a big part of enjoying the racing well idea. Running with others makes running more enjoyable, challenges me to train better than I would by myself, and creating the friendships that I have missed so much during the pandemic.
The reality is that
I am an old recreational runner who does not “have to run” to earn a living or keep a college scholarship, but instead, I choose to run for the joy of it. There is a huge difference and distinction between the two.
It is time to do the work on the runner I am now and make myself a better runner for the long term. Transitioning from the dreamer to a more reality-based runner is a long-overdue change, but still has its challenges. The rest of my evolution as a runner is happening whether I want it to or not, so I might as well enjoy the new me. While working hard to slow the march of the aging process…well, as much as I can.
Based on that reality, my primary running goals for the rest of 2021 are to heal up the worst of the aches and pains, establish a good base, and find a running philosophy that works for me. When the New Year gets here, take time to re-evaluate and decide the direction my running will take for 2022 based on where I am at that point.
I might run in a few 5K or 10K races before the end of the year — dependent upon how the pandemic goes. If I do, I will use them as time trials to gauge where I am in my training, along with them being the start of my getting back into the local running community.
However, with all this reflection and moving to a more reality-based running process, I hope that it also makes the Grim Reaper wait quite a bit longer before he makes that final visit. I prefer not to challenge him to our race across the Rainbow Bridge, where I run like the wind, without a care in the world, before I absolutely have to.
The journey continues, and the road ahead is a bit clearer. Sometimes, like so many others, it takes me longer to find the right path. That one I need to go down and have been afraid of what I might find when I did. The one where reality is different from the fantasies that we attempt to tell ourselves.
Come with me now, the best is yet to be.