Feeling The Rhythm

AJW writes about how hard training is showing that his mental fitness is becoming strong.

By on April 8, 2016 | Comments

AJWs TaproomAfter almost two decades in the sport with a few extended breaks due to injury, I have come to the conclusion that training for and racing ultramarathons requires a certain skillset, mindset, and attitude that is undeniable. In addition, just recently, I have come to realize that it also requires an acceptance of what is and what isn’t.

The key to training for long-distance races has always been finding that balance between science and art that so many successful ventures in life require of us. And, in this time of year, I have always felt and embraced the momentum that comes with the arrival of spring.

This year, for me, I am particularly enthused by the excitement of spring. Several of the athletes I coach are gearing up for big summer 100 milers, my family is all getting after it in various ways, and I, for the first time in two years, am in full-blown training mode. And it feels great.

It’s often hard to describe what if feels like to be on the knife edge of fitness. You know what it is but you also want to wallow in both the misery and euphoria of being not quite sure if you’re there. And, as with many things in life, it often takes direct experience to really get the answer.

For me, personally, I got my answer this week.

I am currently in Vail, Colorado for the premiere of my mother’s film at the Vail Film Festival. Given that my mom is occupied with various events and my three kids are busy skiing, I have time and a place to train. After getting in touch with Anita Ortiz, Western States champion and Eagle, Colorado resident, I found a sweet network of trails in which to occupy my time. Today, on a 14-mile run through there, I felt a little bit of flow.

The run started innocently enough. I felt the tug in my lungs that always accompanies a run at altitude for me. But, after about 20 minutes, I settled in and my pace increased. I found myself looking around, savoring the silence, and enjoying the sanctuary of a run in the high country. It was awesome.

There is still much work to be done before I toe the line in Silverton on July 15th. But if these last few days are any indication, I think my mind is ready. Back in the old days I used to need to wait for my mind to catch up with my body. What today reinforced for me is that now I am in a different place. My head is ready. Now, it’s a stressful race for my body to catch up. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

River North Brewery White AleAs I am in Colorado this week, the beer of the week must come from this great beer state. And, having tasted a bunch since I’ve been out here, I have to say the biggest surprise has been the simply named White Ale from River North Brewery in Denver. Simply Belgian and creatively hopped, this is a great white ale to go along with any spring race-recovery session.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

Can you explain the last run you did where, like AJW, things clicked for the first time in a long time and you became more confident in your growing mental and physical fitness? What was that run like for you?

Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.