I find running to be a very ‘big picture’ endeavor. It involves setting goals that take months and/or years to reach. I know in the very best scenario, I’m looking at 2018 until I have any chance at Western States – with one lottery ticket. In all reality, it will be some time much beyond that.
In addition to the goal setting, there’s the thought and planning involved with creating a training plan to get through those months leading up to a big race and shuffling your schedule around on a weekly basis to hit those training plans.
The weeks leading up to race weekends involve planning the travel and logistics of the race. Do I need to book a hotel? Am I flying? How is my old man going to find me on the course at any given time? Am I carrying hydration for the whole race or do I leave some Tailwind in a drop bag.
Custom Map I put together for my Dad to find me during my first Ultra
One of the coolest logistical moves I’ve seen is the custom trucker hats I read about over at The 100 Mile Mark.
Honestly the ‘big picture’ is why I love ultrarunning – I’m a planner. I love to set goals. And I love to challenge myself.
But … (you knew there was a but coming based on the title, eh?)
There are times when I need to ignore the big picture – specifically when it’s time to actually run.
Looking at the big picture can be very overwhelming at 2:40am when my alarm rings. I have to get out of bed and run for how many hours??
Prior to my first ultra, my parents wanted to know what time they should be in town to watch. They live in Cincinnati – some 5 hours away from Kalamazoo. I said something to the effect of ‘Oh, it’s a long race, you can leave when I start and still make the finish line before I do.’
Then I thought to myself … Oh shit – what did I get myself into? They’re going to be driving, from CINCINNATI for less time than I’ll be running!! … and I had a small panic attack.
I find while I’m running, it’s always best to live in the moment. I don’t think about how much further I need to run (I did that once on an 18 miler and bailed after 4 miles, only to go back to bed for a couple hours – it was the beginning of the end of my training for my first 50 miler last year). I don’t think about how many more days I need to get up before 4am this week. I don’t think about how many more hours of sleep my wife is getting each week by not running – Ok I have thought about that a few times, and it makes me want to run straight home and jump back into bed.
Living in the moment during the Marquette trail 50k – 2015
Simply put, when it’s time to actually run, our friends at Nike said it best – Just do it. That’s when I find it ok to ignore the big picture. I roll out of bed, gear up, head out the door and enjoy each step in the moment.
Relax, breathe, run. And watch the stars.
I leave the big picture thinking for a later time – usually when I have a beer with me.
Have you ever been overwhelmed with your big picture running goals?
Great post and something I need to think about sometimes. My first 16 miler was on a day without any cloud cover or trees when it was 80 degrees at 8am… and I spent the entire time thinking things like “25% done… xx hours and xx minutes to go…” ugh it was awful.
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Thanks Brittany! That reminds me of another post I’ve been planning – not every run is awesome (and that’s ok!)
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It’s a great topic! Often times the worst runs (and unfortunately, races too) are the ones you learn most from.