Sunday, March 30, 2014

Balancing Passion and Control

"If you want to win anything - a race, yourself, your life - you have to go a little berserk." - Dr. George Sheehan

A friend of mine posted a truncated version of the above quote on Facebook and attributed it to the famous marathoner Bill Rodgers.  I did a little searching and found that it was originally a quote from Dr. George Sheehan.  He was one of the greatest writers about the spirit of running. 

I was reminded last weekend about how natural the impulse is to run.  I was in Michigan visiting family.  After dinner my 2 1/2 year old nephew Ryan said, "Let's go run!"  All of us adults took turns running around a pool table with Ryan and his four year old brother Trevor.  It was amazing how much joy they took from that simple act.

When children start competing, especially at longer distances, they start learning that the strategy of simply running as hard as you can until you fall down doesn't work very well.  Even in high school many runners have the tendency to go out too hard in races.  It's always fun to run a race against a bunch of teenagers - usually they go out hard - and you get to spend most of the race passing them back as they fade.

Most of the world records have been set with even pacing or even negative splits (second half faster than the first half of the race).  The ability to control yourself at the beginning of the race becomes very important in being successful at the collegiate level and beyond.  But you also need to know when to strike. 

The same is true even in training.  The best training plan is the one that is focused on being at peak condition at exactly the right time.  Usually this means planning out training for 4-6 months out.  You don't want to train too much too early - or else you'll peak too early.  This is a common mistake for age-groupers.  They think that more is better and end up being in their best shape in August instead of when their race is in October.

Like with many pursuits - being successful in running or triathlon is about taking that initial passion and corralling it a little bit.  But you can't be so controlled that you stifle your passion or training can become very boring.

I like to mix in an unplanned race or two if I feel like my training is getting a little stale.  Next week Kendra and I will be in Phoenix.  We're going to run a 10k on Saturday and swim in an open water event on Sunday.  The 10k isn't all that important of a race - but it will give me a chance to stretch my legs a bit and maybe even compete.  It keeps things fun - especially when I still have a month before my half in Lincoln.

Training this week went pretty well.  I attended my first ever masters swim session.  And I had a pretty strong weekend of training - with a 17 miler on Saturday and 56 mile bike ride on Sunday followed by a four mile run.

Monday -  3000y swim (1 hour)
 Tuesday - 4 mile run (30 minutes)
Wednesday - Morning: 3000y swim (1 hour)
Afternoon: 36 mile bike (2 hours)
Thursday - 9 mile run (1 hour)
Friday - 3000y swim (1 hour)  4 mile run (30 min)
Saturday -  17 mile run (2 hours)
Sunday - 56 mile bike ride (3 hours) followed by 4 mile run (30 min)
Total - Swim: 3 hours Bike: 5 hours Run: 4.5 hours (12.5 hours)

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