My buddy Justin posted this up on my social media wall the other evening, not many minutes after a perfectly decent rowing ergometer workout at my local fitness gym...
I swore last year to not deride people who purchase fitness center memberships in January but never use the facility after March, or how infuriating the first two-to-three months of the year can be for persons who have a well-developed workout habit. The smart "resolutionists" at least take advantage of the "complimentary" fitness assessment; they know how far they have to go to meet the airbrushed (and most-likely "cosmetic-surgeried") image of quote-unquote "fitness" plastered on billboards. When it comes to that 'oh, gosh, I'm THAT unhealthy?' revelation, perhaps ignorance to a certain degree is bliss. Some would prefer to not pay the extra dough to have someone beat up on them for the next three/six/twelve months...or longer.
As a runner/triathlete-type, I have near-epistemological opinions about what does and does not constitute fitness. It used to be if it had nothing to do with swimming, bicycling and running I preferred to avoid it at all costs. An Outside Magazine story on climber-turned-hard-core-fitness-trainer Marc Twight, and ESPN's telecast of the CrossFit Games caused me to channel my own inner Pontius Pilate and re-ask: 'what is fitness?' But that's what philosophy - and coaching - is all about, isn't it? Believe it, test it, re-work it, retest, and repeat.
So, this year I've decided to engage in some personal resolutions, not necessarily run-focused, but resolutions which will most likely carry over into life pedestrian:
Read more - I refer often to three or four good training books, but this last year provided me the opportunity to branch out and read works in genres I hadn't touched since college. If coaching had only to do with the heart, lungs, muscles and skeleton the learning process would be simple. Ah, but there are brains, minds and souls; opinions, concerns and fears involved. And the scariest territory of any fitness enthusiast or athlete would have to be that space which is between the left ear and the right ear. Luke Humphrey's "The Hanson's Marathon Method" is on my short list of acquisitions. A conversation with my step-son, Scott has inspired me to re-read Phil Jackson's 'Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior." Expect a few nuggets in the future from these minds.
Recover more - Reading is a great form of recovery from both the physical and mental stress of training, as well as the stress of the work day. Contrary to the opinion of some of my co-workers. Recovery is everything you are doing when you aren't working out: Sleep, food, massage, hydration. Those are important, but don't forget the Bowerman-esque "hard day-easy day" theory, or Bannister's training impact. Contrary to the dictum of the great Hungarian coach Mihaly Igloi, 'every day hard training must make,' we don't need to do every workout at one-hundred percent intensity. When's the last time you had a rest day marked on the training schedule?
Resist more - Several definitions of resistance can be covered here. Weight training, or cross-training which involves friction (rowing ergometer, elliptical trainer, indoor cycling) can raise heart rates a touch and strengthen muscle groups which are important for running performance, without the worrisome impact which can make joints (especially older ones) ache. The second form of resistance comes in the form of avoidance; like unhealthy food and drink choices (here I am most definitely speaking to myself!), of toxic persons and situations, and workouts which become contests. Ah, but none of us have ever treated a Sunday morning long run as a long race, have we?
Destination race - There's nothing like putting a target race on your training calendar to encourage a training focus. My wife is much better at finding opportunities to travel and race within days of a conference or a business meeting. Besides, you can only run the "Rancid Possum 5K" course and drink the same post-race beer so many times before things...get...old... We have one "destination" race already on the calendar, and I suspect two or three more will soon follow.
I hope these thoughts will encourage you to look a little more closely at your running and fitness habit and see if there's something which cries out for a little change this next year.