Am I Doing This Right?

Zach Miller writes about training and our tendency to question if we are doing it right.

By on January 20, 2023 | Comments

Have you ever wondered if you’re doing it right? Doing what right? Well, anything, really. School, your job, a hobby, and — since this is a running column — yes, training. We’ve all been there. We all have a thing that we do. Maybe for work, maybe for pleasure. Maybe for some other reason entirely. Perhaps you’re not even quite sure why you do it. But, no matter the thing, and no matter the reason, chances are you’ve had a moment when you’ve stopped and thought, “Am I doing this right?”

Recently I’ve been training. A lot. It’s not really a new thing. I’ve pretty much always been a volume junkie. In the past, I could be more of a closet volume junkie. I trained with an old-school watch that didn’t connect to the internet. A lot of the time, I didn’t even really write down what I did. I just did it, went to bed, woke up the next day, and did it again. The only people who got much of a glimpse of my training were those who lived with me.

Zach Miller - training in the mountains

The author logging some big miles. All photos courtesy of Zach Miller.

In 2014 it was my roommate Brandon Stapanowich. In 2015 and 2016, it was my sister Ashley and brother-in-law Nathan, as we all lived and worked together at Barr Camp in Colorado. From 2017 to 2020, it was a mix of fellow Barr Camp caretakers. None of these people knew exactly what I was doing each day, but they got at least some sort of glimpse into the amount of time I spent training.

Thankfully, they were very hands-off about it. They observed but didn’t coach. Every now and then, an insight, observation, or suggestion might be shared — but overall, they just let me do my thing.

Nowadays, things are very different. I own a GPS watch and upload my training to Strava, the social media of the fitness world. People all over the globe can see what I’m doing. It’s been a big change. But this article isn’t about Strava. This article is about the question I previously referenced: Am I doing it right?

As I post workouts these days, I am well aware that people can look at them. They can see the miles, the hours, the vert, the routes, the weekly totals, and all the little details I jot down. It’s kind of like keeping a public diary, which sounds weird, but somehow I’m okay with it. This being said, the other day, I thought to myself, I wonder if people look at this and think that I’m doing it wrong.

I sat with that for a bit and decided that it’s probably a question that many people find themselves asking. Not strictly with regard to training but to things in general. People want to know that they are doing things correctly. They want to eat the right foods, study the right thing in school, go to the right college, and train the right way. The list goes on.

In an attempt to do this, people seek guidance. They hire coaches and dietitians. They talk to therapists, read books, and take classes. They ask for advice. Basically, they gather as much information as they can and then proceed accordingly.

Zach Miller - winter running

Winter running.

In today’s day and age of seemingly never-ending information — and opinions — this pursuit of “right” can be an incredibly deep rabbit hole. No matter what you do or how you do it, you will almost always be able to find someone who thinks you are doing it wrong. So, instead of trying to please everyone else, decide for yourself what it is that you are after and focus on those things.

If it’s hard work that you value, work hard. If it’s being methodical and strategic, then do that. If it’s turning yourself into a guinea pig and experimenting with different training techniques, experiment away. And if it’s simply having a good time, then party on, dude!

Personally, I run and train because I enjoy it. Sure, I ultimately do want to get better at it, but I also don’t want to lose the joy that it brings me. There are days when I will do smart, logical things, but there will also likely be times when I do things that don’t seem to make much sense. That’s all right.

The year 2023 has only just begun. As you look ahead, take some time to think about what you actually want to get out of it. Once you’ve decided, focus on those things. It’s all right if they don’t match up with what everyone else thinks or wants. It’s your adventure, do it right!

Call for Comments

  • Are you conscious of what others think of your training habits, or are you confident in doing things your way?
  • Do you post all your training to Strava or keep some of it under your hat?!
Zach Miller
Zach Miller lives in a school bus he outfitted himself. He competes for The North Face and Team Colorado. Additional sponsors/supporters include Clean-N-Jerky, GU Energy Labs, and Nathan Sports. Follow him on Instagram.