So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Need A New Window Sticker

BoudreauxIMFL.jpg(NOTE:  This post is dedicated to my (Iron)friends Betsy and Aaron.)

Before leaving the house last Wednesday morning (the day after the election), I took a couple of minutes to remove a couple of political campaign decals from the rear window of my car.

(Don't worry. This is not going to be a politically-motivated topic of discussion. While the athletes I coached had a very good idea of my political philosophy; the track was always a "politics-free" zone. The Sunday morning run, on the other hand, has become an exercise in political humor. We always have THE PERFECT SOLUTION to the world's problems figured out at some point between mile two and mile six. Of course, by the time we hit breakfast we are no longer in a position to execute the master plan.)

There was no need to inform my fellow citizen of my election vote. It was definitely high time to move on with life. But it seemed, the morning after, all I saw on my social media account were commentaries by people unable or unwilling to step away from the political junk food. No, there is nothing wrong with being politically conscious, but the "Monday morning-quarterbacking" was best left to the media on Wednesday. Any longer than that was going to place me in a state of depression which rivaled the state of stress I was in during the days leading up to the election.

My, how our approach to politics can be much like the way we approach an endurance event. We can prepare for months, and in some cases a year or more, for a single day's madness. At the end of the event, we can engage in an all-too-brief time of celebration (or anti-celebration), after which comes the post-event let-down/depression. The second half of the classic 'existential dilemma' question: "What now?"

ANALYSIS: It’s time to do a little soul-searching. How did the race go? This can be looked at in the very-gray shades of subjectivity, as well as the black-and-white of race time, overall place and age group standing. The good and the bad of a race can exist right next to each other. There have been races where I ran a personal best, yet I knew clearly the things which left me completely stressed-out before, or cost me precious seconds during the race. There also have been races which I ran a slower time than I hoped, but everything around the event preparation and execution was technically-perfect.
So, what did you do well; what made you feel ready to toe the line for the gun? Don’t hesitate to consider how you trained the weeks before or what you ate during the last couple of days before the race. You don't necessarily have to be superstitious & do the exact same thing before every race, but this exercise can help you to learn the (smart) things which prepare you the best.

Take a close look to see if there were perhaps there were some tactical miscues, a warm-up which was too long, too short, or too intense, or (heaven forbid...none of us have ever done this...) one-too-many beers the night before the race. There’s always room for improvement, and if you're really honest with yourself you’re going to have no problem finding things which might be changed. HOWEVER, don’t dwell on the positives or the negatives from the race any longer than 30 minutes.

CELEBRATION: It is fun to compare notes with your running friends; even talk a little smack which you’ll eventually have to back up; you’re only as good as your next race. There’s nothing like earning hardware, and some age groups are tougher than others. Make certain to appreciate the efforts of all of the athletes; you’ll be amazed at the longevity of some & the speed of others. Respect given leads to respect earned. Perhaps you didn't earn an award, but you ran a personal best or helped someone else to have a great race. Don’t worry. Trophies break & get dusty, but the memory of a PR lasts a long time.

AFTERMATH: A running companion of mine put it well: “The day after I run a good race I go for an easy run. The day after a bad race I go for an easy run.” But, there were many times when the day-after runs were more intense than the previous day. Recovery is where the performance gains are made.

Two post-race recovery rules-of-thumb I like to follow, and often use when laying out plans for an athlete:

Light activity, but no running - one day for each hour of racing. If the race lasts less than an hour, take a day.

One day of easy running (no speed work or racing) for each mile of racing. You can hit the track on Tuesday after a 5K on Saturday, but should run easy for the next week after a 10K.

There are only so many good races a runner can run each season, which depends on base fitness, intensity of workouts, strength and ability to recover after a race. The best runners can stay at peak fitness for six to eight weeks, the citizen-athlete for a much shorter period. Too many races in too short a time can lead to disappointment & injury. Listen to your body & do what feels right for you.

THE NEXT GOAL: Time to sit down and plan for your next goal event. You’re only as good as your next race, so don't focus on the last one you did for too long.

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