I cringe a little when people ask me how many layers they should wear in the winter. How the hell should I know how cold you feel??
I try to be helpful and polite and direct people to resources on Active like these great posts by Christian Peterson:
I write and edit articles like this and I try to remember that when I was a newbie runner, I didn’t know a damn thing either. I’m also a huge consumer of running articles on topics that I have never experienced.
But ultimately, I didn’t start growing as a runner until I stopped listening and started doing. And neither will you.
So put down those running magazines and get your ass outdoors. Try a few layers. If you’re hot, learn something and do better next time. If you’re cold, learn something and do better next time.
Try everything. Run barefoot. Run in clunky shoes. Run in jammies. Run with your hair up. Run with your hair down. Run in the day. Run at night. Run without underwear. Run without a bra. Eat veggies. Eat meat. Eat junk food.
It doesn’t matter what you do, just try it differently. Become your own expert and don’t live within a plan that somebody else created.
This is not to bash the validity of training plans or expert tips. But every year I am more shocked by the ignorance of the questions that come through. Is there ANYTHING we do by ourselves anymore?
There’s a fear associated with going off on our own and trying something unusual, and that upsets me.
Don’t be afraid to switch up your diet. Or to run faster or slower or longer or shorter than what you’re “supposed to”.
There is no right or wrong. You’re not going to die at your next race. If you feel like crap or shit your pants, tweak your routine and learn from it.
I’m personally a knowledge-glutton. If I’m interested in a topic (like running), I want to read everything out there on that topic. But I also found that I was using research as a crutch for masking my fears:
Excuse: “I want to run an ultra, but I haven’t researched it enough…”
Truth: You’re just scared shitless to run an ultra. I’ve been there.
I recommend Jason Robillard’s recent post, Stop Letting Dumb-Ass Excuses Keep You From Your Dreams. It definitely inspired me.
So to practice what I’m preaching, I did something recently that I’ve been “researching” for a while:
I registered for my first 100-miler, Rocky Road. It’s only four weeks away.
I’m probably (ok, definitely) way over my head. I haven’t even raced a 50-miler (though I’ve run the distance at Across the Years).
I’m not 100% on nutrition or sleep or the mental strength it will take to pull past 80 miles. I haven’t read enough articles or asked enough questions. I don’t have any pacers.
Many could argue that I’m wasting my money. But goddammit, I’m registered.
Am I scared shitless? Hell ya.
Do I have what it takes? Who knows.
Will I learn something? Probably a thing or two…
Regrets? Ask me later.
But at least I’m not going to sit around asking how to wipe my own ass. I’m just gonna grab me some soft leaves and hope to God it’s not poison oak.
See you on the trails.