Why Race Day shouldn’t be your reason to run

Every year around this time my ULUR website fees come due, and every year I toss up whether to pay them and keep this very sporadically maintained blog going. And never more so than after recent events.

The start of my Surf Coast Century 2018 looked like this:

And ended with me standing, frozen in the middle of nowhere, calling my partner Steve to come get me. I’d been swept over on some rocks by a rogue wave 20km previous, and had just discovered (once I was cold and thoroughly drenched at the 32km mark) that the green slicker in the above photo had also been swept out into Bass Strait by that wave, along with my pride and any hope of a decent finish time for the race.

I guess on paper it looks like I have had a shit year.
I started January with a muscular injury in my lower back/glute and followed that with not one, but now two DNF’s – the Warburton trail race (flu, I shouldn’t have even tried to run this one!) and the Surf Coast Century. In the 12 years I’ve been running I’d only DNF’d one race ever and that was in the midst of separating from my now ex-husband of 17 years so, you know, I was inclined to cut myself a little slack there.
If you read that link to the Surf Coast Century story  you’ll see I was pretty cut up about not finishing. I spent a week or more beating myself up over something I eventually realised wasn’t my fault. And once I realised that I realised something else.
I don’t really feel like I’ve had an awful year. On the contrary, I feel like I am getting closer to something I’ve wanted for a long time. Strength and consistency in my training. Competency at running. Boring words I guess, but I take pride in them. They mean I trust in my ability to do this difficult stuff. To achieve the goals I set out for.
I’m enjoying my long runs, and my hill work, and my strength and core workouts. I’m still seeing improvements in speed, my mileage capacity and my recovery times that show me I am fitter than I was this time last year. Or the year before that. That there is still more I can achieve.

Did you know that most successful people are not usually goal oriented, but process oriented? They enjoy the daily grind, the routine, the small triumphs along the way to victory. Yes, achieving the major goal they set out for will bring them satisfaction, but more importantly, so does the journey itself. This tiny difference in perception is a major indicator of future success in any area. Practice over performance.

Ok then, I guess I have a mental running disorder…

And just like breaking a daunting job up into smaller, more manageable pieces can allow you to start to attack the whole, breaking a massive personal goal up into smaller, yet still enjoyable achievements will make you less likely to quit when the going gets tough.
Sure, I have a race coming up, but I am not just training for a 50k race in Marysville in 2 weeks’ time.
I am also finally managing to do regular core work within my strength training. 
I am attempting both longer and hillier runs than ever before, and doing them more regularly too. I’m regularly running 6 days a week, twice on Wednesday.
I can run a marathon distance on a Saturday…

…and recover in time for a light jog on Sunday.

My current job is now 20km from home rather than 8km, like my previous job. But that’s no excuse – I still run home from work sometimes.
These are all things I wasn’t doing a while ago. Or couldn’t do a while ago.
What I see with all this is that gradually, bit by bit, you draw away from Old You towards a New You. Then New You starts to feel like Normal You and you can try to push the envelope yet again.
That’s what I find so intriguing about ultra-running, and running in general. It forces me to compete with the most stubborn, competitive side of myself. That’s a side of me that I don’t know properly yet, but we’re getting there. All of which is more exciting than any race day could ever be.

Of course, it’s not always exciting to do the small, good work. Sometimes it’s bloody boring.
So to finish off I would like to offer some words of advice from a singer/songwriter called Laura Mvula. I follow her on Instagram and she is a total badass.
She got me out the door to do that marathon run last Saturday, when I felt tired and grumpy and sick of training:

Shit yeah. That’s how you get it done.

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