Yesterday I had a conversation with a Type-A motivated and driven runner who says running hasn’t been very much fun lately. This competitive athlete is vexed by self-imposed pressure in the drive for splits and PRs, heart rate measurements and getting in time at the track and gym.
Often, for the Type A competitive athlete, this is just burnout from overtraining, or more accurately, not getting enough recovery and sleep. It is amazing what a few days of total rest away from their primary training mode will do for these people. For all of us who train, really. Doing something else or nothing at all and staying away long enough until we are energized and rejuvenated about getting back into training and competing works wonders.
Most of the time, I think, that rest and doing something entirely different…and fun, is all that takes to put things back into a realistic perspective. The time for rest isn’t just when you are injured.
I am no longer competing at anything (and when I did, I took myself too seriously)! I do consider myself to be a non-competitive athlete. When I am overloaded with training, which at my age, happens more often than I like, I have no problem taking the time off. Never have. Then again, I am no Type A!
In the past, I competed at inline speedskating and as much as I liked the racing, I was happier with the training. Prior to that, I too was a runner and had raced distances from the 5K to the marathon. I was a middle-of the-pack hacker and was generally fine with it, except when a had a finishing time goal I had to attain or someone I needed to “crush”.
Between reading books and magazines on training theory, I read some of George Sheehan‘s work, especially “Running and Being”. Considered the “runners’ guru”, Sheehan brought a different perspective to running which included philosophical elements as well as the fun component. (I admit at the time, the philosophical aspect he wrote about was a little over the top for my twenty-something mindset). I do to this day, still recommend the book to runners and non-runners alike. George sums it up best when he said,
“Fitness has to be fun. If it is not play, there will be no fitness. Play, you see, is the process.
Fitness is merely the product.”
Right on cue with our discussion, Ross Enamait posted an excellent article on his blog titled “Training For the Fun of It”. You should take a moment and read it.
After the wins and losses, the PRs and the misses, there has to be a greater reason for training. Do you know yours?