Training to Train

I was riding the ski lift in Taos on February 15, 2016 with a 60-year-old ski instructor, and a couple from Ontario who were 67 and 65. The couple had slept in their RV parked at the ski basin and were sharing with us how cold it was during the night. They were wondering why they had slept up at the parking lot at the basin, as it was very similar to the temperatures and conditions they were trying to escape from in Canada. The RV was lacking the conveniences of home and the comfort of sleeping in their own beds.

The conversation moved on to various recreational activities, mountain biking, running and aggressive skiing and why each of us continue to torture ourselves. The ski instructor who works fulltime running his own business in town said he only comes up to the basin to instruct on holidays. He said it is a shame how many folks come up to the mountain to ski and end up sitting in the bar, because they are so out of shape from sitting at work. He said most don’t have the time or motivation to get in shape and cannot reach their skiing goals during their short vacations. I shared that since I started running marathons I have been so afraid I might get injured skiing that I don’t take enough chances, although I am in better shape now at 66 than when I was younger.

The instructor said he gave up 20 years of marathon running for just that reason. He didn’t think his knees would hold up. He said, he misses the excitement of getting ready for the marathon and the training, but now he uses his biking and skiing to replace the running. He said he still has to continue to work on core training, as his hamstring and quads get tight from skiing just as they did from running. Something that I have long known is that I have signed up for marathons as a motivational ploy, to stay in shape yet, I don’t really like going to races.

Although I like competition, I am not thrilled with paying the race-entry fees, travel costs and everything else. It even bothers me trying to pin my bib on straight. Getting ready for a race, for me, always involves a lot of worrying-everything from catching a cold, making flights, picking up the rental car, getting lost in a new city and getting to the starting line in the early morning on time.

In my last race, I seemed to have even lost the drive to win my age group, although that was why I was there in the first place. Although the two old guys in front of me were within my reach, I knew once I passed them I would have to race the last mile in. I no longer cared if I was first or third.

There are many runners I know and admire that have a great time at marathons or other races­competition or not. They seem to sign up once a month for something. They are happy to complete 26.2 miles, adding another race to their list of race accomplishments. They share their race bling on Facebook and seem to enjoy all aspects of participating: picking up race packets and adding new shirts to their collections. Some are competitors and some just like the social activity that goes with a running event.

Once I am running in at race, and if it is at my preferred pace and only after a few miles, I will start enjoying the race too. It is relaxing and meditative and I drift off not thinking at all or thinking how I might trick myself out of a slump to get going again. On the other hand, if I am in a race, I am generally focused on my time and speed and unless I am distracted by a friend or someone engaging me in conversation, I won’t talk to anyone at all. So as of today I am training just to train. I will see how I feel continuing to run and train, but without the race as a goal. As a first step I canceled my Mt. Charleston Half Marathon planned for this May.

training to train

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