I wanted to prove to myself that I could write a meaningful post without innuendo or references to Pairis Hilton. This is me taking off my dunce hat and putting on my coaching hat. Back to my normal ridiculousness on Tuesday!
A few times a month I’ll get a message from a friend or one of the athletes that I coach that exclaims that they wished they were faster. They wish they were faster than so and so. They wish they were as fast as me. They don’t want to run a race because they’re too slow. Whenever I see one of these I always have the same response: Don’t try to be better than everyone else, instead be better than YOU were yesterday.
The inverse reminds me of the movie Office Space. It essentially follows the stupidity of working in corporate America and all of the dumb things that happen during day to day life. In one of the early scenes, the main character is telling a shrink about how today was the worst day of his life: “So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life.” Depressing, right?
My message is certainly easier said than done. I’ll admit that it likely sounds like mindless coaching mantra. The equivalent of a high school baseball coach yelling at the players to “keep their head on a swivel”. But, as mindless as it might sound, I’ve found that the key to success and happiness with running is to make sure that you’re always improving – always continuing to get better.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that bad days happen. Bad running days and bad “life” days alike are an unfortunate reality. Sometimes there is a reason like poor hydration or nutrition the day before – other days there just aren’t. Often all it takes is an errant pot hole to completely derail months worth of work and sideline an otherwise perfect running day/month/year. But overall the trajectory should be upwards. Each day (on average) should be better than the day before. Bad days serve their purpose. They help us to find out what doesn’t work or what should or shouldn’t be done before or after a run or help us remind ourselves how good we had it during the good times. However, much like a bad girlfriend, bad days should be learned from and then promptly forgotten.
Simply put, having each day “better” is the key. Who defines better? YOU do! Better could mean faster, sure. But better could also mean easier. Or better could mean closer running friends, stronger relationships, or even bringing the sport to someone else who would have otherwise never laced up a “jogging” shoe. Even after a significant injury, attempting to make each day better than the one before it is still possible. All it takes is a little work to redefine your definition of “better”.
Personally, each day, I’ll take a pulse of each run. I’ll decide if it was hard, sucky, or if I felt like I floated on air. Not only day by day but also month by month. Often I’ll go back 3 months and analyze where I was then, how I felt when running an easy run, and try to determine if that is better or worse than now. While sometimes seemingly impossible, I try my hardest to never compare myself to other runners. If I run a 10 minute PR but come in last, does that matter? I still ran faster than I ever have in my life?
When I respond to people who tell me they wish they were faster, I tell them that as irreverent as I am on my blog, I am horribly serious about my training and my coaching. I run more miles than most and sacrifice nearly all of my personal time to be the best that I can be and helping others do likewise. However, at the end of the day running is supposed to be fun. If I wasn’t having a good time I would most certainly stop and evaluate what I was doing. I would evaluate and redefine “better”. After all, we’ll all get slower – but hopefully running will stay fun for years and years to come.
Whew, that took a lot longer to write than I thought it would. Making cracks at poop and Charlie Sheen is waaaaay easier. Must post more of that.