The sound of failure calls her name

For all my talk, I’m actually a rather Zen runner.  Zen is code for I don’t push myself.  Or worse, code for I don’t really try. 

My running mates frequently speculate as to how I fast I could run if (i) I actually applied myself and (ii) I was willing to take few training and race risks.  In other words, if I followed a plan, pushed, tried. 

The No Plan.  I don’t really follow a program.  Husband recently talked to a local running coach about me and described my “training program” as an ever changing and closely guarded secret.  There is no spreadsheet.  No calendar on my fridge.  But it’s no secret.  It doesn’t exist.  If I feel I need to run fast I do some intervals.  If I feel I need to go far I do a long run.  If I feel weak I run some hills.  If I feel tired I take it easy.  I think people think I’m fibbing (or sandbagging) when they say how far are you going tonight?  How hard?  I just shrug and say we’ll see.  I’m not being difficult, I just never know until I start.  I see how it unfolds and look at the details at the end the run.  I know what I’m doing when I finish.

I run 2, 3, maybe 4 times a week.  I can’t even remember the last time I ran five days in one week.  I can readily remember the last time I ran no days in a week.  In consecutive weeks.  At around 50k, my peak mileage is equivalent to many marathoner’s low mileage weeks.  The No Training Marathon Training Program was not hyperbole for literary effect.

The No Push.  I finish races and, to quote an oft heard statement, don’t even look like I’ve run.  At the end of a marathon one should look like they’ve run.  I never ever go all out.  I’m not even sure I can go all out.  It’s why I can’t/don’t run short distances.  I don’t think I have the go all out gene.  Noake’s Central Governor, with its powerful STOP voice, is particularly loud in my brain. 

During the Chilly Half Marathon a friend chatted with about his new coach, a women who is a former 2.30 marathoner.  This coach runs with him and pushes him, motivating him to get out of his comfort zone.  As he was talking it struck me – I never leave my comfort zone, indeed I’m in that comfort zone right now, easily chatting during a race.  Saying I don’t push myself is not hyperbole for literary effect.

The No Try.  I am in a rut.  My race times rarely change.  Sure I look consistent, but truthfully I’m stuck in that damn comfort zone.  I know I have untapped potential, but I’m not sure how to turn the tap on.  Trying means the risk of failing and I’m not good at failing.  And that’s not hyperbole for literary effect.

Title: The Flaming Lips – The Sound of Failure/It’s Dark Is It Always This Dark.  2006.

12 responses to “The sound of failure calls her name

  1. I dont follow a training plan, usually just decide what I will run on a week to week basis. I dont like all the scientific junk training has turned into

  2. It is very exciting to run close to the edge.

    It is one of the memorable running experiences to flame out spectacularly during a race.

    There are other thrills. You are running really really hard and all of a sudden your body rebels. That’s where the real excitement comes in. Will you be able to muster up the mental resolve to keep up your pace and run on to glory and a dramatic PB? Or will you want to lie down and cry? You just don’t know. It’s like a trip to Vegas but with pain. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

  3. Thank you for validating me.

  4. Great blog, I like your short stories, they make me smile. I also like the sound of your traning plan, there is nothing better than running without the pressure of a plan.

  5. A woman after my own heart – though you seem pretty serious about training to me. Love your blog by the way.

  6. I’m very similar, except probably a bit slower, but who cares. I know I have untapped potential, but also untapped disclipline. My fear, besides the aforementioned failure one, is that trying, planning, pushing a lot will ruin running for me. I want to continue to like running and feel that I NEED it to be happy and sane. For me, marathons are still not interesting to me (yet!) because in order to cover that herculean distance, I would have to follow a Plan, and following a Plan means doing a lot of workouts I don’t want to do, which leads to me resenting and hating running, just doing it to get to and through that one goal day, then hanging up my shoes. I just like sneaking up on improved times slowly, which explains my joy at my 5K PR in Dec. after living a month powered by cookies and beer. (Hmmmm, perhaps that should be my “plan” for my upcoming half marathon!)

    • Ah-ha, untapped discipline – exactly!

      p.s. I can attest to the success of planless marathon training. But if you’ve even seen my toenails you’d know it isn’t always pretty.

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