Do the least amount necessary, not the most amount possible.
In 2012 I made the conscious decision to participate and compete in ultramarathon running. My running background (circa 2008) was minimal at best, but had begun to evolve and grow into a daily, obsessive passion. Living in a high desert climate, at the time, allowed me to spend a lot of time outside, exploring the mountains, foothills, and in New Mexico, the flat, soft ground of the river trails. The ability to easily run on trail, away from pavement, cars, and people was exactly what I was looking for. Casual 45 minute runs extended into weekend trail exploring, covering 13+ miles in an outing became the staple of my weekend. An initial foray outside of my comfort zone, created a spark for change and forever altered my view of health, exercise, and wellness. As a fitness professional, I naturally became engrossed in the history of the sport, who the top athletes were, where they lived, how they trained, ate, what they wore, etc. My gravitation towards the competitive side of the activity was natural, but also something I felt a need to temper (initially). The changes in the mind happen much faster than those in the body. I visualized the product, racing Leadville, competing well, and being accomplished. At that point I had to begin the process.
With no formal coaching or advising I began to read about training for running, and the different ways in which athletes approached the sport. Having spent many years with strength training as my foundation or mode of fitness, it was not something I was willing to give up or even begin to replace. Thus, trail running became what I did on my own, every other day. Running 18-20 miles per week provided me with a nice balance. Having a lot of recovery is beneficial when beginning a new sport or any fitness regiment. We call this “absorption”. The “rest” allows us to soak up the workouts and build excitement and anticipation for the next outing. Looking back, this is why we often perform so well in new activities. Absent of the expectation of performance a person simply flows and consistently does their best, not knowing what that is or what it can be.
- Monday: Strength / Cross-Train
- Tuesday: Run 6 miles
- Wednesday: Strength / Cross-Train
- Thursday: Run 6 miles
- Friday: Strength / Cross-Train
- Saturday: Run/Hike 10+ miles or 2+ hours
- Sunday: Rest
In the beginning I ran the same course, repeatedly. It was a nice distance, offering a variety of terrain: nice climbs, some short and steep, some long and gradual, with equal descents. The biggest factor was that I enjoyed it. I came to know every inch of the course, knowing my times from previous runs, and if I was “on” a good pace or not. Super simple, yet extremely effective.
A balanced schedule allows you to continually build confidence and foster strong mental and physical growth. By focusing on the daily activity, being present each workout, you can then begin to assess the effectiveness of the training (sleep, nutrition, lifestyle choices, workouts, etc.).
Gradual lifestyle changes give time to ponder your true desire and intention of your new pursuit. Patience, with persistence, brings success.