Every once and a while I like to throw caution to the wind and do something kind of reckless. The more I do this, the more I figure out how to dig myself out of whatever I've thrown myself into, which usually results in some amazing life lessons. But it's difficult for me to recommend someone else use the same method for the same end result.
What I know about myself is that I work best when I take a big risk & I set a high standard for myself, backed by little-to-no safety net, so I have to work like hell to achieve my goal. Does this work for me? Yeah, I would say so far, so good. But would I recommend that everyone take this risky road to life? My answer to that would fully depend on the individual I am speaking with, but in general, I would suggest you assess your own situation and figure out how much you are willing to give in order to accomplish your goal.
My most recent no-holds adventure would involve signing up for every ultra running event I can get my hands on from now until November. Okay, okay, I know...this isn't totally off the deep end for me having run cross country last year. BUT that doesn't mean I don't have to train for such running. SO signing up for all of these ultras was reckless in the way that I have basically done minimal running since I completed MS Run the US last year; and by minimal I do mean 10-20 miles per week, which in the way of ultra running is a very, very, very small amount of miles per week.
Since my return stateside in early June of this year I have been meeting up with a running group (Lapham Peak Trail Runners) at a nearby State Forest Unit in Kettle Moraine, WI. This group makes some of the stuff I've done look like peanuts. I mean, really, these guys and gals have been kicking up ultra miles on the trails since I was in high school running down 2.5. My first experience with some of the members was back in 09' just before my very first ultra marathon. I was chatting away about my fantasy run across the country while they told stories of back-to-back 50 mile races & subzero 24-hr trail races, and they still wanted more! I didn't understand it fully. I couldn't even imagine getting to that place where I would continually push my body for 50 to 100 miles straight, and then wake up the next day wanting to do it ever again. What would that even feel like?!? And what would it take for me to get to that place where I actually considered training that much?!?!
Well, I can't say that I am laying down the miles for any 100 mile races in the near future, but I have crossed over a training threshold, that's for sure. Two weeks ago I still hadn't laid down any big miles, yet I found myself on the North Face Endurance Challenge website registering for their 50 mile race. I naively thought I could actually read a book about ultramarathon running without being inspired to enter the sport this year. As the pages of Born To Run by Christopher McDougall were barely done being turned I had pulled out my debit card & put down the challenge for myself.
With four weeks to race day my training program would consist of a simple concept, which I feel I have followed quite nicely: run as many miles as I can, as often as I can, for as long as I can, then sleep, and repeat.
Okay, do you see how this concept really probably wouldn't work for most people?!?!? Yeah, I know! It's kind of unorganized, completely unstructured, and screams "Injury!"; yet we are now two weeks to race day and I've probably logged more miles in the last two weeks combined then I have the whole entire year. So, I'm not writing to this brag about how awesome I am at running lots and lots of miles and how cool it is I don't get hurt and blah blah blah look how great running is, but instead, I'm writing it to try and illustrate a few main points that I feel do help me that could easily be related to your training/life:
1) To become better at something, work with others that are better than you that have done more than you. Case in point, any time I get ahead of myself with all the recent running I'm doing, I just have to show up to my training group and shut my mouth. I'll hear more stories of running awesomeness than I could ever think of, by people who have been doing it much longer, at a much faster pace.
2) To become better at something, do it more. And let me just add that the "do it more" part of this tip is varied by your abilities, keeping in mind that you have far greater abilities then you could ever imagine.
3) To become better at something, love it or learn to love it. The concept is simple, the more you love something, the more you'll do it. The more you do it, the better you become at it. The better you become, the more you will love it. And the more you love it, the more you will do it. See? Totally simple. If you don't love it, change the way you think about it so you learn to love it. If that's not possible, then, seriously, do something else! Life is too short to do something you don't love.
So for those of you that have been asking, this is my training program. This is what my pace and distance is based off of. And this is why I can run and run and run, and then wake up the next day and run some more:
I have surrounded myself with those that are better than I.
I do it more.
And I love it.