Running The Wrong Race?

When I am attempting to move myself from one place to another, whether it is physically, spiritually, emotionally, whatever, there are three pieces of information that I must have:

1. Destination-where exactly am I going.

2. Direction-where am I now and how do I get to the destination from here.

3. Discipline-just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

These 3-D’s have the ability to get me anywhere I want to go, IF I take a moment to assess my current situation and apply them. In other words, I have to make sure that I am running the right race.  I recently had use the 3-D’s to get my exercise back on the right track.

While I was training for my first marathon, I intentionally did not sign up for any post-marathon races.  I really wasn’t sure how I was going to feel and didn’t want the pressure of feeling like I “had to” run a race that I had signed up for.  In fact, I still haven’t signed up for any.  Unfortunately, because I have no specific race to train for, I have sort of floundered around the last few weeks.  When I would go for a run, if I felt fast, I ran fast; if I felt tight, I ran slow; you know the drill.  I was logging miles, but not really going anywhere.  I had discipline, but no destination or direction.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am a big fan of maintenance miles.  I love to listen to a good audio book or podcast, and just run for 6 or 8 miles.  But this wasn’t the kind of running that I was doing.  I felt like I needed a reason to run, but because I had no destination, I was running with no direction (and getting no where fast).

So I decided to step back.  Why was I running at all? What was I trying to accomplish?  If I was going to invest hours each week running (discipline), I wanted to make sure that I was running the right race.  The answer became clear, but without stopping to ask the question, I never would have seen it.

I have lost about 50 pounds in the 2 years since I started running, but some poor food decisions and the stress over my marathon training (or lack thereof), caused me to gain about 10-12 pounds this past summer.  After the marathon, I was still getting on the scale every morning (I use an Android app called Libra to track my weight) and eating much healthier foods, but I wasn’t specifically using my runs to aid in my weight loss goals.

Now that I had a destination (weight loss), I was able to assess my direction. I realized that I needed to burn more calories from fat.  This meant that I would need to run longer (could be distance or time) and run slower (about 60-70% of my maximum heart rate) so that I would be burning maximum calories from fat.  The discipline almost takes care of itself.  Now that my diet and exercise routines are in sync, I just have to work the plan.

Destination. Direction. Discipline. They will take you anywhere that you want to go.

So what about you? What are your current goals that running is helping to you achieve? Or is your goal running specific (PR, distance, etc)? What tools to do you use to track your progress?

Get started.

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