Simplifying — Yes, Simplifying My Running

Over the past few months, I have noticed that my running, along with other parts of my life, have experienced the dreaded complexity creep and that I have been comparing my running to what others are doing — too much.

Be forewarned that this is a fairly long essay, if you choose to read it.

Part of a simpler life and time.
Part of a simpler life and time.

I think we all know what the comparison trap is, but complexity creep — WTF????

Below are how I define them:

  • Complexity creep — is when I allow my running (or life), to be much more complex than it needs to be.
  • Comparison trap — comparing what I do to what other runners are doing, and then attempting to do more than I should or would otherwise.

Now to start the simplification process — yet again.

What is Important?

I am one of the lucky ones, I have the time, freedom, and health to look at what I want to do with my running at age 64 and beyond.

What is important about my running — to me?

My running is about making friendships, enjoying the life I do have, accepting the runner I am, doing the work, showing up, and not being afraid to fail.

In other words — “do” more and “fantasize” less.

No, I haven’t done these things consistently (especially showing up and not being afraid to fail) over the years. However, I won’t live in the past and can only keep moving forward to do and be better.

Knowing what is important to me does make a difference, and writing it down took much longer to finish than I expected. That short statement and has been revised numerous times and will probably see more revisions as I continue to grow. However, it was an exercise that needed to be done and helped to clarify in my mind what is important about my running and what I need to make it simpler.

Those are my long-term North Star goals and where I need to focus my running efforts.

Training

I need to train more consistently and a helluva lot smarter. The boom then bust Harold training will not get me to still be running at age 80. Which is one of my long-term goals.

Let’s face it, I am 64 years old, a recreational runner, and still rehabbing the Achilles Tendonosis that has plagued me since March 2021. While it is improving — ever so slowly, I am starting to run thirty miles a week most of the time.

However, I still have a ways to go physically to hold up to long runs that will be needed for a few of the running specific goals that I foresee chasing in the future. Indeed, my ability to hold-up to higher mileage is the question mark to all of my training that I need to answer.

Based on where I am physically today, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay for training plans or coaching at this time. Especially, when I am just starting to run consistently again and need to work on improving my overall fitness for the remainder of 2021.

When I do choose a training program, it will be something that I have researched thoroughly and most likely its foundations will be based on Lydiard’s principles/philosophy. That and focusing on the basics of running, not one that gets caught up in the b.s. of those quick-fix ideas or gimmicks that seem to be flooding run training in today’s world.

To improve as a runner, I need to do the work — all of it.

How much technology do I need or want?

At times technology has been a nice addition to my running and I have been lucky enough to have benefitted from many of the innovations that have been a part of the last 50 years.

Although, as I step back a bit from some forms of technological wonders that surround us. I am beginning to think twice about what all those data points, metrics, and things that are collected by whoever or whatever actually mean for the recreational runner?

Most of all, how much do they help us improve as runners?

It seems, as we get further into the “technology boom,” that too much of the technology serves no other purpose other than to serve itself and provide data points about me, to others for their purposes.

GPS watches/Smart watches are here to stay in my world, despite all the cons or privacy issues that I and others might see about them. Could I go back to simply using a Timex Ironman watch or run naked? Sure. However, I like the ease of having a decent idea of how far I ran and a few other metrics that are important to me.

And yes, I enjoy the convenience and connectivity to my phone that a Smart watch provides.

When I am out running, all I need to know is approximately how far, how much time has elapsed, a beep each mile to remind me to see what my approximate pace is. Although adding in a pair of earbuds attached to my phone for music sometimes is nice too.

The safety factor is a feature that I do believe is important. Being able to track where I am during a run, makes TheWife happier because I have been known to go off on an adventure, without letting anyone know where I am. Since I have activated the tracking feature, she is more comfortable with my spontaneous nature while running.

I have turned-off most of the multitude of in-run data screens or post-run evaluations of my training methods by AI based on my watch’s or a foot pod’s data capture abilities.

Since I made those changes, I run more relaxed and don’t worry about all the buzzes, beeps or how my “numbers” or graphs will look after I finish. Looking back, I wish it was something that I had done sooner.

Stryd Pod — If I am honest, I never really ran by Stryd’s Power numbers. So, its primary function is one that for me became just another number to ignore, much the same as my running by heart-rate data became.

Using Stryd became more a game to see if I could increase my Critical Power, then effectively using it as a training aid. Which was a waste of time/effort and only complicated how I viewed my running. Also worrying about what so many data points would look like caused me to run faster than I needed to at times and, at other times, stressing out because I didn’t run as slow as the program was instructing.

All the different metrics that it captured were cool, but I don’t have the expertise to properly interpret or utilize them to improve my actual running.

I have put the pod and its accessories in storage. I would be open to working a good deal for someone if they are interested.

Training Logs — I keep going back and forth between pen/paper logs and my spreadsheet. Honestly, I prefer the spreadsheet, but will be moving towards a 5-year journal that I will use as my paper/narrative running log going forward. I might wait until January to start — we will see.

Websites — There are the bazillion or so it seems websites or blogs that want to help you run better. Some are great, some are okay, and some are there simply out to part you from your hard-earned money. Caveat Emptor are the words that come to mind when perusing the Internet for information about running.

However, having the ability to upload my running data from my watch to Garmin Connect or Strava, does help me figure out a few things about how I ran or to show trends that I need to be aware of. However, having a multitude of other websites that all do the same things, are overkill and unnecessary.

I can see me joining one of the online communities that also has training plans and possibly coaching that are out there at some point in 2022. We will see, what my goals are and how my running is going before I make that decision. However, I am doing my research, so when I make the choice it is one that I will be comfortable with and get rid of the rest at that point.

Information Overload

The Internet — The Internet is great until it isn’t, or until there is money to be made by someone. Then it becomes, shall we say, “Interesting.”

Yes, the Internet provides unlimited resources that tell me that I too can be a great runner if I only do…well, you get the picture. You can go down rabbit holes until you come out haggard and dazed — which I often do. Between the articles, websites, blogs, videos, and eBooks being published on the web, it is too much.

The worst part of all this information, is the amount of conflicting truths errr information, half-truths, blatant falsehoods that permeate the Internet or attempting to sort someone’s fantasy from reality.

When I search for answers, I now seek people or organizations that are recognizable or have a good reputation in the running world. Otherwise, I look at what their credentials and experience in running are beyond having a great website, before leaning too heavily on the pearls of wisdom they are sharing.

I am not saying that us nobodies (because I am one, too), don’t have some great ideas or insights at times. However, the truth is that all too often with our limited backgrounds, experiences or education, it does inhibit our ability to interpret more technical data sets or respond to questions about running beyond the basics.

As much as I want to believe that I have some experience in running, I have also learned, what I don’t know about running’s multitude of finer points, are a lot more than what I know.

Too many others on the Internet don’t follow that way of thinking and attempt to pass themselves off as “experts”, when they are not. Or perhaps they may have expertise in another field, that does not translate to running as much as they would have us believe.

The facts are that there are coaches and others, who do have the expertise, educational background, training, and/or experience to provide guidance or thoughts on what I am looking for. Their expertise vastly surpasses what I and most other runners have for a knowledge base regarding running.

You just have to find them and then be willing to listen to what they have to say because it usually isn’t what you want to hear. That there are not too many hacks, shortcuts, that you have to do the work, and it takes time, if you want to become a better runner.

Social Media

Which brings us to social media and all its gooeyness.

I have a love/hate relationship with Strava, Facebook and Twitter, which are the only three social media sites that I now have (yes, to me, Strava is a social media site, more than a primary electronic training log). They can be time-sucks, make me question mine and other’s sanity, cause me stress unnecessarily, and are great for meeting interesting people who share my interests or getting the news as it breaks, not hours later.

However, now that I am not blogging for any particular purpose or professionally, the reason to maintain a high profile in any sort of social media has declined drastically.

Strava — Honestly, Strava is part of the problem, when it comes to comparing my running to others. However, I do enjoy seeing what other runners I know or follow their careers are doing. Unfortunately, when I see what others are doing, especially those in my age group, it often results in me wanting to do more than I should. I intend to keep Strava, but I have unfollowed most of the professional runners and others that I don’t really know.

I have also stopped sending heart rate and other health data to Strava. Now Strava keeps bugging me to reinstate the permissions, which makes me wonder what they are doing with the data, beyond the visible graphs they provide to me? And yes, I have read their Terms of Service, which like most others, gives them permission to use my data in ways that suit their business model. In other words, the more data they have, the better it is for their business.

Facebook — I dislike Facebook’s policies and keep saying that I am going to delete it, and have gone in three times over the past three weeks to delete it. However, each time I think about old friends, relatives and how certain groups I enjoy use Facebook to provide updates on what is going on — yes FOMO. Then I go back in and re-activate it. I imagine at some point I will eventually delete Facebook, but not yet — it is still useful.

Twitter — Depending on whom you follow or how much you click on trending topics, Twitter can piss you off, stress you out and just generally make you question how to hell we will make it until tomorrow. Fortunately, Twitter makes it easier to control most of my timeline and keep it somewhat sane. There are still moments I grit my teeth, but for the most part, I have tamed the beast enough to let it stay a part of my online life and help me go down multiple rabbit hole far too often.

To simplify my social media, I have deleted, unfollowed, unfriended or otherwise streamlined my timelines everywhere. I got rid of any politically related sources, groups that no longer interest me, most news feeds (I kept the local paper in Twitter), famous people, and brands that I won’t be buying from in the near term.

I focused on keeping real people that I have communicated with over the years. Since I have done that, I have noticed that my stress levels are much lower and the sanity index is rising.

When dealing with social media, it comes down to quality over quantity, and yes, I block quickly and often when it comes to dealing with trolls and conspiracy theorists on both sides of the aisle.

Blogging — I have been blogging about running since 2011 and as much as I enjoyed writing blog posts about running, gear, shoes, insights I can share that might help other runners, and the opportunities that it provided. I have been moving away from RunBlogging for a couple of years.

This blog is primarily about the daily training grind and an old guy’s thoughts on his running journey, or things that I have learned (usually the hard way) along the way. Some other stuff does make its way in, but that is the niche I am sticking to.

Books— I have a fairly extensive library of books on running. Both physical and ebook, and all too often I get caught up in wanting to do or attempting to do whatever was in the most recent book I read or am reading. Which has been one of the causes of my consistently inconsistent training regimens.

All the different information sources and ideologies on running was too much. What I need to do is focus on my North Star goals and the how of what I am doing or reading will help me attain those goals. Once I figure out the direction I will be going with my training in 2022, I will box up or delete most of the other training theories from my personal libraries.

Running Shoes

Running shoes do make a huge difference in my running, and we have never had better running shoes than we have now. I could put this section on running shoes into the technology section, and it wouldn’t be improper. The advancements in running shoe technology is having a definitive effect on our running at all distances.

Even so, I am still searching for that perfect running shoe rotation. I have learned that there is no such thing as one perfect shoe for all types of running, even with all the great technological advancements that are a part of today’s running shoes.

My current rotation is:

Daily Trainers — Karhu Ikoni Hivo 2020, Reebok Energy 2, Karhu Fusion 2021, Asics Glideride v1, Puma Deviate Nitro, New Balance Beacon v2,

Racing/Speedwork/Tempo — 361 Degree Flame, ASICS Magic Speed, Reebok RunFast v1, Nike ZoomFly SP

Trail — Salomon Speedcross 5

Waiting in the wings for after Christmas: Skechers Forza 4 (daily trainer) and probably one other pair of shoes before the end of the year. I can see several of the above being gone at the end of the year.

Running shoes are my obsession and I love to try new/different ones all too often. Although at times over the last 10 years, as a RunBlogger and reviewer, my running was more about the shoes, gear, and the reviews I was doing, then how well I was running.

Those days are now behind me, but I still have far too many running shoes. As often as I say I am going to stop getting more, I see a great deal somewhere or someone gifts me a pair or two.

My running shoe obsession is mostly harmless and one that will see the numbers of shoes decline over the next few years.

I know that TheWife will be happy when/if that happens.

The Reality is That

It is time to simplify my running and other parts of my life — again.

However, instead of doing my usual knee-jerk reaction, this time I am taking my time to identify the areas I am concerned about. Stopping to think about any repercussions of changes I am considering, before I make any changes. I have finally realized that whenever I change one thing, there are ripple effects that need to be considered, beyond the specific thing being changed.

Although there are recurring themes that come up every time I need to simplify things: Facebook, Twitter, Strava, my training methods and running shoes.

I have been working on this post for about a month. Each time I get ready to publish it, I figure out another piece of the puzzle that changes how I see something and tweak it a little more. While this is not the first time I have written about simplifying my running, it is a good look at things that I need to do now.

If I do the things that I discussed above, I believe that my running will be more enjoyable and that I will become a better and more relaxed runner (both physically and mentally).

The temptations that make our running more complex than it needs to be, are insidious in nature. The marketing departments of brands, businesses, and others have too many tools at their disposal to make us think that their version of whatever it is, is something we need as a part of our running and life. Then suddenly you find yourself overwhelmed by all the “stuff” that has creeped in.

Now, keeping my running and other parts of my life simpler, is something that I will be more aware of going forward.

Are you running into the comparison trap or complexity creep? What are you going to do about it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.