For many ultrarunners in North America and Europe, the end of May is a time of great expectations. After this past winter, which was particularly long and snowy, the trails have finally opened up in the high country and runners are finding themselves getting out for longer and longer outings. For the lucky few, it’s high time to log big miles in preparation for Western States 100, Hardrock 100, or any of the other marquee races on the calendar. For others, who might not be directing their attention to particular events, this is a time for expanding horizons and deepening fitness. In many ways, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
For me, back when I was a competitive racer, the latter part of May made me feel a lot like a six-year-old boy a month or two before Christmas. The big day was getting closer and closer and yet the waiting was excruciatingly difficult. And, it was in the midst of the waiting and the anticipation that I always strived to simply stay in the moment.
I’ve been asked by runners many times over the years, “How, how in the midst of great expectations can one stay in the moment?”
I try to focus on three simple things:
Savor Every Run
While some runs are easier than others, longer than others, or less pleasant than others, they are all runs, all bricks in the wall of your training and all a part of your overall body of work. With each day comes a new opportunity for discovery, a new chance to connect with the community, and another window into the environment which we are so fortunate to run through. By savoring every run, I find joy in the process and keep the nervous anticipation at bay.
Celebrate the Little Things
While training for a big event is a lot about the big picture, the hundreds of little details that combine to ultimately lead to success in a long-distance race are often most important. Spend time thinking about your shoes, your gear, your plans for the week before race day — all of those things that in isolation are just mundane details but when put together provide the foundation for the wonder and beauty of long miles on the trails.
We must always remember that running is something that we get to do, not something that we have to do. There is no feeling quite like the feeling of finishing a good run, filled with hope and endorphins. In those euphoric fleeting moments immediately following a run I feel energized, positive, and filled with joy. Why not try to extend that to all parts of my life? Stay positive and optimistic and good things will happen. Maybe not right away, but eventually they will.
For those of you out there struggling to manage the excitement of this period of great expectations, I urge you to find ways to stay in the moment. And, if it works for you to savor every run, celebrate the little things, and stay optimistic — I say go for it. It will help you get to race day, for sure, but it will also help you get through race day and that, after all, is the ultimate goal.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Carib Brewery in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Key West Pale Ale is a classic American Pale Ale with a touch of maltiness and a gentle bitterness. At 5% ABV it is a middle-of-the-road Pale Ale that is perfect for these warming summer days.
Call for Comments
- Are you training for something big right now? How is it going?