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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Training: Philosophy

"Don't wish it was easier. Wish you were better." -- Jim Rohn

My wife and I are sitting in a pub, setting up my race season for 2014 and discussing which races she is planning on doing also. She's not as competitive as I am, and runs for the joy and social aspect of the sport versus the drive to break PR's and clobber a course that once clobbered back. There's a fair amount of local races lined up for the coming year, and it's exciting to see what the opportunities are to break new ground with virgin races, and return to starting lines to see how much quicker the finish line arrives!

To this end, we end up discussing training philosophy, and an interesting thing happened as I started posting events and official races to our running group We Run Mas' facebook page: a few of our members who are eagerly looking for races also to challenge themselves start asking questions. Questions such as, "Am I ready?", "Is this course too hard?", "I haven't done that distance before, what happens after I pass my furthest kilometer?". Things like that.

On the way into work, I was listening to Ultrarunner Podcast and they had Dr. David Horton on. For those that don't know, David has been running Ultras for longer than many Ultrarunners have been alive. He did his first 100 miler in 1981. He made a few points on how he saw the evolution of the sport, and what has changed over the years. I'll come back to his references later, but much of what he said speaks to the point of this article.

Over the years, there is a change in sport to allow everyone to participate: competitive and non-competitive alike. This is great, as it supports better lifestyles, gets people moving and provides the opening to maintain active, hopefully non-medicated, living for lasting health. The downside of this scenario is an "everybody wins" mentality, and the median of sport capacity goes down. Is this a law of averages, a bias in numbers because of the greater number of active participants, or a drop in overall trained skillset?

Before the late 70's the number of "aid stations" in most marathons was minimal, let alone 5k's or 10k's. The goal of the participant was to show up trained to the starting line, and it was their responsibility to get to the finish, not the Race Directors. As the general population started running (again, a good thing) the requirement for Race Director's to ensure the safety of participants grew, and Aid Stations started spawning like mushrooms on rotting wood. Some marathons have some sort of support station every kilometer!! Suddenly RD's were playing with their races to help the athletes. Adding aid stations, extending cut-offs, changing elevation profiles or offering shorter outs to finish. It's a little odd. Dr. Tim Noakes has much to say on the topic also.

So that brings us to the bar. How high is the bar, and what is the best way to ensure it is where it needs to be. The simple answer is: set the bar and expect people to reach it. There are "hard" races, and "easy" races, and in between races. Of course, easy for one person may be a grind fest of pain for another. So what changes the outcome of the journey? Answer: Training.

It's a simple idea, but our discussion (my wife and I) went a step further and it came down to a semantic which in essence has a huge impact on the outcome of one's effort.

"Train to achieve your goal. Don't set your goal based on what you have already trained."

Coming back to some of the questions that were being raised, both online, in person, and in my own head when I started undertaking running as a "serious" endeavor, put's it all in perspective. The danger of stating "Am I ready?" is that if you're not, you may not try. You ideally, if the race is several months away, and it currently exists beyond your past accomplishments, are not ready. However, this doesn't assume that you won't be ready!

It's gonna require a plan. 

Set the goal, sign on the proverbial dotted line, register for the event, and work our ass off so that once you reach the start line, you have done everything in your power to make the finish line. 
Train for the goal. Not the other way around.

The danger of doing the opposite, of setting the goal based on what you have already trained (aka your "today" self) is that you will sell yourself short. The aspiration of pushing just that one step past the comfortable and already known is what allows us to achieve greatness. Does greatness assume a first place finish or a PR every race? Not at all. For some, greatness if getting to the finish line. Even a DNF can be great, as long as the best that could have happened on that day occurred. The experience will let you shine in the future, as we all know that mistakes are the greatest of lessons. If we allow ourselves to only do what we know is capable today, for tomorrow, then the apathy and stagnation that impedes growth is certain. 

Once the goal is set, understanding the reality of what needs to happen to get there is paramount! To some, perhaps this comes naturally and with years of experience and success has become habit. For others, perhaps it's a new way of looking at future races and, while being realistic (don't go run 100 miles with little to no past Ultra experience), start pushing the envelope. Maybe it's a faster 10k or marathon, or a return to a race that once left you destroyed. It could be branching into new distances, or new terrain (roads to trails or -gasp-, trails to roads).

But at least do one thing . . . set your eyes on something new. Something that is currently not within your "today's you" grasp and push. 

Push just a little. And most importantly, train for it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ultra Playlist

We Run Mas - Our Band Shot

Here's a playlist I've set up for a long run or race, sitting at just under 9 hours of music.
Take a gander and hopefully there's something there that gets you going.

There's a mix of quieter emotional tracks with upbeat and aggressive beats . . . cause you never know what you're gonna need out there!!

..running playist master 
119 songs, 8.7 hours, 794.1 MB 

Name Time Album Artist 
Street Spirit (Fade Out) 4:14 The Best of Radiohead (Special Editi… Radiohead 
Takyon (Death Yon) 2:48 Exmilitary Death Grips 
Videotape 4:40 In Rainbows Radiohead 
Bitterman 4:52 The Light the Dead See Soulsavers 
Robot Boy 4:29 A Thousand Suns Linkin Park 
Jou Ma Se Poes In'N FishPaste Jar 4:17 $O$ Die Antwoord 
I Do Not Want This 5:41 The Downward Spiral Nine Inch Nails 
King Eternal 4:28 Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes TV on the Radio 
Oil and Water 3:50 Light Grenades Incubus 
Changing Colours 4:44 Ongiara Great Lake Swimmers 
Everyday is like Sunday 3:34 Morrisey 
Amsterdam 3:41 Writer's Block Peter Bjorn & John 
Obstacle 1 4:11 Turn On The Bright Lights Interpol 
Hearing Damage 5:05 The Twilight Saga: New Moon Thom Yorke 
The Hollow 2:59 Mer de Noms A Perfect Circle 
Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall 4:01 Mylo Xyloto Coldplay 
Pictures of You 4:46 Galore The Cure 
Embrace The Martian 3:42 Kontinental Gangsta Crookers 
Cosmic Love 4:16 Lungs Florence And The Machine 
West End Girls 3:57 Pet Shop Boys 
All I Need 3:49 In Rainbows Radiohead 
Reptile 6:52 The Downward Spiral Nine Inch Nails 
Overgrown 5:01 Overgrown (Deluxe Edition) James Blake 
Lapdance 3:34 nerd 
Worlock 5:30 Rabies Skinny Puppy 
Blue Monday 4:26 Candy Ass Orgy 
I Remember 3:15 Undun The Roots 
Wish You Were Here 3:35 Morning View Incubus 
Outro 4:07 Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. M83 
Runaway 9:08 Kanye.West-My.Beautiful.Dark.Twist… Kanye West Ft. Pusha T 
The Smiths & Morissey - Suedehead 3:53 
Renegades of Funk 3:54 Rage Against The Machine 
The Mother We Share 3:11 The Bones of What You Believe (Spec… CHVRCHES 
Pocket Full of Shells 3:51 Rage Against The Machine 
March Of The Pigs 2:59 The Downward Spiral Nine Inch Nails 
Heart Of Gold 3:07 Oldies Neil Young 
Maps 3:40 Fever To Tell Yeah Yeah Yeahs 
Pyramid Song 4:50 The Best of Radiohead (Special Editi… Radiohead 
Guillotine 3:43 Exmilitary Death Grips 
Bbb 3:31 How to Destroy Angels - EP How to Destroy Angels 
1980s - Ah Ha - Take On Me 3:50 Ah Ha 
A Millie Ft. Cory Gunz 4:46 hardb0dy@MIXFIEND Lil' Wayne 
Hope 3:17 Burning from The Inside Bauhaus 
$o$ 4:00 $O$ Die Antwoord 
Happiness is Slavery 5:21 Broken Nine Inch Nails 
Who's Gonna Save My Soul 3:16 The Odd Couple Gnarls Barkley 
Evolution Revolution Love 4:12 Blowback Tricky 
Bigmouth Strikes Again 3:15 The Sound Of The Smiths (The Very… The Smiths 
Welcome to Heartbreak (feat. Kid Cu… 4:23 808s & Heartbreak (Bonus Video Ver… Kanye West 
The Host of Seraphim 6:17 Wake Dead Can Dance 
Paradise 4:38 Mylo Xyloto Coldplay 
Karma Police 4:24 The Best of Radiohead (Special Editi… Radiohead 
Judith 4:07 Mer de Noms A Perfect Circle 
The Choke 6:29 Bites Skinny Puppy 
So Fresh, So Clean 4:00 Stankonia Outkast 
Lights 5:38 Interpol Interpol 
Sober 5:07 Undertow Tool 
The Good Life 4:17 Pinkerton Weezer 
Angel 6:16 Snatch - Soundtrack Massive Attack 
Keep Your Head 3:24 We Started Nothing The Ting Tings 
Don't You Evah 3:37 Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Spoon 

Name Time Album Artist 
Perfect Kiss 8:02 New Order 
Stinkļ¬st 5:11 AEnima Tool 
Sun In Your Eyes 4:51 Group Therapy Above & Beyond 
Slow Hands 3:04 Antics Interpol 
Always Something There To Remind… 3:41 Living In Oblivion The 80's Greatest… Naked Eyes 
Vancouver 3:11 So Real: Songs From Jeff Buckley Jeff Buckley 
Da Rockwilder 2:16 Blackout Method Man And Redman 
I Need You 5:10 As I Am Alicia Keys 
Enjoy the Silence (Stereo) 6:13 Violator (Digital Version) Depeche Mode 
Forty Six & 2 6:02 AEnima Tool 
Sierra Leone 5:17 Mt Eden Dubstep 
The Clock 4:15 The Eraser Thom Yorke 
Motor Music 3:27 A Pipe Dream and A Promise Finale 
Terror Couple Kill Colonel 4:21 In The Flat Field Bauhaus 
Weak and Powerless 3:14 Thirteenth Step A Perfect Circle 
Children of the Sun 7:33 Anastasis Dead Can Dance 
Staring At The Sun 3:27 Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes TV on the Radio 
Breathe 4:39 Genetic World Telepopmusik 
Cars 3:59 The Big 80s Gary Numan 
Grace 5:22 Grace Jeff Buckley 
Infra-Red 3:18 Meds Placebo 
Grand Optimist 4:05 Little Hell City and Colour 
Real Goths 4:22 Real Goths - Single Mode Moderne 
Safe And Sound 4:05 The Violent Blue Electric President 
Speed Of Sound 4:49 X & Y Coldplay 
Orestes 4:48 Mer de Noms A Perfect Circle 
Easier To Run 3:24 Meteora Linkin Park 
Testify 3:30 The Battle of Los Angeles Rage Against the Machine 
Killing In The Name Of 5:14 Rage Against The Machine 
One Man Show 3:23 A Pipe Dream and A Promise Finale 
All Falls Down (feat. Syleena 3:44 College Dropout Kanye West 
Assimilate 6:57 Bites Skinny Puppy 
Supernaut 5:50 Nativity in Black: Tribute to Black Sa… 1000 Homo DJs 
Waiting for the End 3:52 A Thousand Suns Linkin Park 
Creator 4:17 Santogold 
Beastie Boys - Sure Shot 3:20 Beastie Boys 
Halfway Home 5:32 Dear Science, TV on the Radio 
08 - Get lucky 6:06 Random Access Memories Daft Punk 
Dead Souls 4:53 Still Joy Division 
I Can Dream About You 4:48 Streets of Fire - Original Mot Dan Hartman 
Ch-Check it Out 3:10 Beastie Boys 
Intro 5:23 Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. M83 
Halo  (Stereo) 4:28 Violator (Digital Version) Depeche Mode 
Midnight City 4:04 Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. M83 
World In My Eyes (Stereo) 4:27 Violator (Digital Version) Depeche Mode 
Please, Please, Please Let Me Get Wh… 1:52 The Sound Of The Smiths (The Very… The Smiths 
Music Is Math 5:22 Geogaddi Boards Of Canada 
Northern Wind 4:16 Little Hell City and Colour 
Last Goodbye 4:35 Grace Jeff Buckley 
Blinded By The Lights 4:44 A Grand Don't Come For Free The Streets 
Sunday Bloody Sunday 4:05 The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of… Saul Williams 
1969 4:21 Geogaddi Boards Of Canada 
Lotus Flower 5:00 The King Of Limbs Radiohead 
The Girl And The Robot 4:29 Junior Royksopp ft. Robyn 
Closer 6:13 The Downward Spiral Nine Inch Nails 
Alchemy 5:18 Group Therapy Above & Beyond 
Hot-n-Fun 3:24 N.E.R.D.-Nothing-(Deluxe.Edition)-… N.E.R.D. Ft. Nelly Furtado 
Home 5:03 Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros 
We Run Mas - Band Shot Alt. 2