Perception and Reality

After taking essentially 3 weeks off from running (ok there was a 29.5 mile race mixed in there), I’m back to training. After feeling down on myself for having such a poor showing at FANS, I rashly signed up for the Birkie Trail Run 100K. I can’t say that it was a bad decision, but I don’t know that I thought it through very hard. I have 14 weeks to find a way to turn it into a good idea.

My biggest concern is the cut-off, 17.5 hours. That’s a 17:17 pace (based on the stated distance of 60.7 miles, although there are two other, shorter, listed distances for the course). My 50K pace in April? 17:17. Hmmm.

The other concern I have is that hardly anyone runs it. It might be a lonely day out there. But then again, I won’t hear anyone chattering in my ear.

In order to finish this race, I’m going to have to work hard. I mean, obviously. Haven’t I been working hard all along though? I’ve run a marathon and 3 ultra-distances in the past year so I must be working hard.

Nope.

I think I work hard though. I convince myself that I am working hard, putting lots of effort into running, pushing myself. But I really don’t. There are flashes of real, honest effort – the sub-zero training runs I did over the winter, for example. I’m not going to pretend to downplay those runs – I know in those moments I was a badass.

I take the path of least resistance in most aspects of life, even when it comes to hard stuff like running an ultra (or becoming an engineer – by the way, I passed that test I was whining about). My training volume is very, very low compared to the average ultra runner, and while training is individual and what works for one person doesn’t work for another, all I know is low-volume training. So how do I know that running 60 miles/week average isn’t actually better for me than 36-37 miles/week average? I don’t. But I pretend to myself that I’m doing enough.

I can’t pretend anymore, if I want to succeed at the Birkie. I have to really work. I have to take a serious look at my nutrition and drop a bit of weight. I have to get up early on the weekends to get the miles in. I have to find the time for the miles, not find the miles for the time. I have to get serious about strength workouts beyond just some pushups and MYRTLs. I have to run uncomfortably sometimes. I have to stop giving myself permission to do less than what is required.

This is going to be interesting for me. It’s a chance to re-think what is possible for me, and to achieve something that five years ago wasn’t even on my radar, let alone within my capabilities. It’s a chance to get closer to the abstract goal of running a hundred miler someday, to turn that possibility somewhere over the horizon into a probability somewhere just down the road.

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