It’s been that long?

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Lots of time has past since the last post

 

I could not believe it’s been since February that I last posted here. I knew it had been a while, but I figured it hadn’t been that long.

What have I been doing since then?

Fitness

I’ll start with fitness, since that’s what I write about most here.

1.) Piling up miles

When I committed to the Quad Rock 50, I decided to explore a training approach that included higher volume. I’ve done that in 2014…I’ve done some sort of run or ride on over 200 days this year. That’s about as many workouts (running/riding) as I’ve had in a whole year in the past.

Adding it all up, in 2014 I’ve:

  • Run just under 2500 miles (2478 by my count)
  • Rode 1600+ miles (1610 by my count)

I’m not entirely convinced that a high volume approach is right for me. I’ll have more to say on this in the future.

2.) Raced (once so far) – Quad Rock 50

At some point I might write more extensively about my experience at the Quad Rock 50. For now, I will say that it was a tremendous experience. I finished in just over 11 hours (11:02:25) – not as good as I was hoping for. I suffered from a lack of fitness and some issues with my nutrition. But I learned a lot about ultra distance racing.

And it didn’t stop me from taking another step forward into the ultra distance.

3.) Signed up for my first 100 mile race – Oil Creek 100

The Oil Creek 100 is on October 11.

Coming off the Quad Rock 50, I knew I wanted to do another ultra distance race in 2014. I spent some time going back and forth between another 50 miler and jumping up to 100 miles. I decided to move up to 100 miles. I’ll explain the reasons in a subsequent post, but it was about more than just wanting to complete the distance.

There is something about the journey, about the process and discipline of training, that I needed. More later on this too.

4.) I still have not mastered my eating habits

This is an ongoing struggle for me and something I need to continue working on.

I’m convinced that this has more to do with what’s going on in the rest of my life (non fitness) than anything else. I’m eating almost as a way to pass time or numb some things that may not be quite right in other aspects of my life.

Maybe this is an excuse and I should be able to just have the discipline to eat better. But to me there is something else at play here. There is a disconnect somewhere else that I have yet to resolve, and eating is a way of distracting myself from dealing with that disconnect. If I could ever resolve that disconnect, I have a feeling that my eating habits would fall into line, almost effortlessly. I’m still trying to explore these things to see if I can make some progress here.

Non fitness

The other major thing I’ve explored a time or two on this blog is things like addiction, depression. Things haven’t been right for me in a while. I’ve gotten some insights about this over the past 6-8 months that I hope to explore more fully. I think writing about them might actually help bring more clarity to them. I’m actually feeling half decent right now, which is more than I could say for the better part of the last few years.

The other aspect that I’m constantly thinking about is career and how that plays into everything else. I believe I’ve figured out some things there as well. Now it’s just a matter of putting some plans into motion. This is where I encounter the most “Resistance” (a Steven Pressfield term), and I think it’s a major influence on other aspects of my life (eating habits and everything else).

Things really cannot be separated

In this post, I’ve neatly separated things into “fitness” and “non fitness.” What I’ve discovered is that for me, these two things cannot be separated. I need to be in nature and moving –runs and rides are not simply about getting ready for the next race or improving my health. There is something more to it than that. It gets into the nature of soul and spirit – I’ve been reading a lot about this recently and gained a ton of insight. I’m looking forward to sharing some of that here as well.

Finally, there has been the usual chaos and fun of being a husband and father. I don’t spend much time on that here…but I try to spend as much time as possible in those spaces and find it a constant learning experience.

Getting to a regular schedule for posting here on this blog is an important new goal for me. It’s one of the next steps I need to take to move things forward.  It feels good to be back at it.

 

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Trail running lesson: The need for conviction

I’ve been enjoying my weekly trail run in Schooley’s Mountain County Park.  The rocks and hills make it both scenic and challenging.  I’ve been taking it slow and steady (including walking when necessary), trying to improve my trail running skills.

Today’s run in Schooley’s was particularly challenging.  It was raining, which made the rocks slick.  I struggled to find stable footing.  My lack of experience was playing on my mind.

That’s when I fell.

As I was making my way up a hill, I got nervous and lost clarity on my line through the rocks.  I tried to regain my balance but it was too late.  I put my hands down and caught myself.  The fall wasn’t bad.  I was thankful to be going uphill—if I had been going downhill I might not have been able to stop my momentum so easily.

I learned a pretty simple lesson from that little slip—I need to have conviction and be assertive when picking and following my line through the trail.

Trail running isn’t easy, especially when the terrain is complicated.  I’m discovering that the ability to orchestrate the mental and physical elements of running is critical—I need to see the upcoming trail, pick the right line through the trail and get my body to step in the right places to follow the line.  My brain needs to be several feet ahead of my body, and my body must still handle the obstacle it’s currently facing.  Running on roads or crushed gravel doesn’t require the same kind of attention and coordination.

Indecisiveness makes it nearly impossible to effectively run trails with obstacles.  Conviction is key.  I’ve got to act with conviction that the line I picked can work, then I need to just go for it.  Hesitation is trouble.  It’s better to pick a bad line and have conviction about it than it is to pick a good line and be hesitant or passive.  If I’m passive, the trail will eat me up.

And “going for it” doesn’t mean being stupid.  I can still walk if I need to.  But even then, believing in my line will give me a much better chance of executing well.

The need for conviction about your path forward is the same in all sports.  Skiing / snowboarding and mountain biking come to mind.  Baseball too—I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a former pitcher say that conviction is the most important success factor in a crucial situation.  It’s better for a pitcher to throw his third best pitch with conviction than to throw his best pitch without it.

I suppose the same thing can be said about life.

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I’m through the first three days of my monthly nutrition experiment.

I’m doing well.  I’m sure it sounds weird, but thinking about this experiment as a race has actually helped me.  It’s got me off thinking about the whole month and onto thinking about the current moment.  It’s also helped me find a bit more willpower to resist the frequent cravings.  Thinking about things the way I do in a race has worked (so far).  Hopefully things will get progressively easier.

My thoughts right now are just to get through the next 4 days, Thursday to Sunday.  Each day poses a potentially difficult challenge, especially after dinner.  The World Series, College Football, Sunday Night Eagles-Cowboys (Go Birds!).

After that I can worry about Halloween Hill.  But Monday’s too far away right now.