Thinking Ahead to 2022

What will the shadows of 2021 bring me in 2022? That is to be discovered, but at the same time, it is time to make a bit of a road map to at least have some idea of the direction that I want to go over the next year. It doesn’t mean that I won’t find new or different routes as my journey into 2022 becomes my new reality.
Something that I am going to continue into 2022 is focusing on What’s Important Now (W.I.N.) as I learn more about myself and running. I am especially not getting caught up in all the small stuff that is fluff or bullshit that I have zero control over. That was the stuff I used to spend far too much energy worrying about, and I am figuring out that most are simply a waste of my precious time.

Aging

The elephant in the room is that I am turning 65 in August 2022. No, I don’t believe that it is just a number like so many people like to say. Getting older does mean changes to what my body and, yes, my mind can do. Along with how society at large views who I am and “what” I need to do now.
I am not going to retire to the couch or anything like that. I don’t care about the stereotypes that others may have about me. I plan on doing a lot more of Harold being Harold and enjoying the life that I have in front of me.
Being 65 is something that I can’t change, so I might as well make life as good as it can be, despite some of the limitations that aging does bring. I can’t do things the same way I did 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Even so, as far as I am concerned, getting older is a damned sight better than the alternative.
However, being 65 can be frustrating as all get out as a runner. I work twice as hard to get half of the return for my efforts with my running. Recovery times are much longer, and the niggles seem to crop up more regularly than they should. Those are the hardest thing for me to accept with this getting older stuff. 
Then the idea that I have to rely on a paper or electronic memory for many activities that I took for granted. Short-term memory is a thing of the past, err what was I talking about, hehehehe. Sometimes the memories of years ago are clearer than what I did yesterday. 
I’m not going to rust out but slide into the coffin, having used up everything I have and maybe a little more! Does that mean I have to break down and finally get a pair of running super shoes to get that little extra? 😝
 

Running Philosophy?

In 2021 I got caught up in believing that I needed to have my own running philosophy and find a coach/run club that shared the same vision of running. Looking back at these experiences, they were great experiments, and I learned a lot. 
However, if I get back to using the K.I.S.S. philosophy in my running, it will serve me quite nicely. Probably a lot better than some complex thing that I won’t remember half of anyway.
In 2022, I need to focus on keeping my running simpler and focus on where my running journey is going over the long term, not simply next year, a goal race, or how someone else thinks I should get there. This year, I will take responsibility to learn and figure out the processes I need in my running to achieve those goals I will be setting over the next year.
Also, when I achieve a goal, it isn’t the end of the line. It is simply another stepping stone to another new beginning on my running journey. After completing one goal, use it as a stepping stone to achieving more than you thought you could.

Knowing where I am

Even more importantly, I need to start 2022 knowing where I am. 
No fantastical thinking about where I think I am, but the reality with all my strengths and weaknesses looked at honestly. I will get rid of those rose-colored filters or memories that make me believe that I can do more than my present self can do.
Then do the work necessary to achieve the goals that I have created for this year and maybe a few years down the road, while chasing my North Star goal to still be running at age 80 or beyond.
This means that I need to get back to the basics of my running.
What are those Basics?
    • Consistency is king. Boom then Busted Harold running will not work in the future (it hasn’t worked that great in the past either), so I will learn more about what I need to do to become a more consistent runner.
    • A lot will come down to doing more of the following: run more, run faster once or twice a week, run long once most weeks, run easy the rest of the time. Remember to take a day off when I need it. As I get closer to an “A” race, train for it, and practice the paces, I plan to run in the race. 
    • Clean up my running form to be more efficient, but don’t let it become why I run.
    • Training by more by time versus mileage/pace or other methods.
    • Eat decently, but enjoy eating. 80/20 seems to work best for me.
    • Be willing to rest, take time away from running. Running cannot be my only outlet in life. I have to get back to enjoying other things beyond running. Maybe some D&D or Archery???
    • Do more than run. All that strength work, prehab, mobility, etc., but not too much.
    • Blog to get thoughts out of my head and to have a record of my running that I can look back on. 
    • Continue to maintain my Spreadsheet Log that I have control over what data I keep, where the data goes, and who sees it. 
    • Don’t get lost in magic supplements, unique workouts, “super running shoes,” and fancy gadgets. 
    • Stop worrying about the things that make a 1% difference in my running and focus on doing the basic work because there are no shortcuts to running better.
    • Most of all, keep my running fun. When running becomes another stressor in my life, it is time to look at why and what I am doing that is causing me to feel that way. I am a recreational runner who runs because I can, not because I have to.
    However, as much as I can control a lot of what I do, there is still a lot that I can’t. COVID-19 is still rearing its ugly head at the start of 2022 and will affect many things I want to do next year with my running.
    This means until the hospitalizations or death numbers decline significantly, I won’t be racing, going to the gym, or participating in the Central Maine Striders activities.

    Pandemic 

    Yes, COVID-19 and how it affects everyone’s life sucks big-time, but it is the way it is and how it will be until we reach herd immunity. Even then, we will have sporadic localized outbreaks that will cause more pain and suffering.
    I am vaccinated and boosted and in reasonably good condition, so most likely, COVID-19 wouldn’t be a big deal for me. Personally, I could go back to living whatever the new normal is for most people and not isolate myself so much on our little hill. However, we have an immunologically compromised person living with us, so, out of respect for their health, I am being very conservative with the things I do beyond the house for the foreseeable future.
    At some point in 2022, I feel that my isolationist tendencies will relax considerably from where they are now, but not quite yet.

    Gym/Treadmill

    Not going to the gym means that I don’t have access to a treadmill. For me, at this point, to train well in Maine, during the Winter, the treadmill is a tool that I prefer to use. It is safer than going outside when the roads are ice-covered, temps are frigid, or the weather is nasty enough to make running too miserable. I just don’t do or bounce as well in the cold, nasty weather as I used to.
    As I get older, the weather does play a more significant factor in things I am willing to endure to get my run in. Not having access to a treadmill over the past two years has limited my running, and I foresee it having a negative impact again on my Winter running for the first half of 2022 as well. Still, I suck it up more than I used to and run in conditions that I wouldn’t have before the pandemic, simply because I want to get some runs in. However, speedwork doesn’t happen all that much in these conditions and was one of the philosophic differences I had with one of the RunClubs I experimented with.

    Central Maine Striders

    I would love to start participating in activities with my local running club again, but until COVID-19 winds down, I will enjoy the Facebook group and go from there.

    Niggles

    One of the other things I have noticed about aging is that the small niggles are much more likely to turn into injuries that don’t resolve nearly as quickly as they once did. I need to work more on prehab so that I don’t have long rehab periods that I endured in 2021, especially with my left Achilles tendinosis. This means doing my morning activities, actually warming up before running, and then doing a cool-down walk after. Then in the evenings, I do my mobility and strength work. 
    I am retired, and my time is pretty much my own (except for the honey-do list), so I don’t really have any reason not to do these things — besides being lazy or that I don’t enjoy doing them.

    Looking Ahead

    In 2022, I will look at my running as something that I chose to do, not something I have to do. This year, I will be focusing on consistently running well, simplifying my running where I can, setting stepping stone goals, and challenging myself to do the work necessary to achieve them. 
    All too often I get caught up in “if only I could…” when it comes to my running. However, focusing on the perfect running form or the search for a great training plan, running shoes, group or club has only gotten in the way of running well. 
    This is a huge realization and change of perspective for me. 
    Hopefully, I am done chasing the perfect training plan, form, philosophy, or running shoes — they don’t exist and only get in the way of “good enough.” In 2022 I will look more for what is good enough for this old recreational runner.
    Questions to keep asking myself throughout 2022:
    – What do I need to do or know to continue improving?
    – Is what I am doing or planning to do essential to continue in the direction I want to go?
    – Why am I taking this so seriously?
    – If I stopped running today, what would my life look like?
    Despite many of the negatives surrounding getting older, I am excited to continue my journey into 2022. I believe that it will be a grand adventure, with more than a few twists or unexpected turns along the way.
    Here is to 2022, a New Year starting off with some exciting possibilities and a new year of Harold being Harold.

    Come with me now — the best is yet to be.

    One comment

    1. Very insightful Harold. You've done a lot of thinking and in my opinion, come to some good conclusions. Runners need to do more than run. And there's more to life than running.

      Like

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