Eat well, live well & then run long.
My journey into a healthier lifestyle has been pretty typical in many ways. I started out overweight and found some success in running to lose some weight. I started eating just a little healthier and I was like ok this is working, cool. Let's run more and see what happens, and if I run more I can eat more of whatever I want, right? Ok this is working. I'm running 100 milers, going for 20+ mile training runs multiple times a week on minimal sleep, a non-consistent lifestyle routine & diet choices that were more based on convenience than on nutritional value. This worked for me for a few years of training and ultra-running until I started to question if that path leads me to where I want to go, and is that journey the journey I want to be on, does it provide the most fulfilling life for me.
Trying to answer those questions on morning hikes with Dexter lead me to some discoveries I had been avoiding and some changes that I am proud of. It should be noted that as a father first, I have an instinctual habit of putting Kiera first in all decisions of my day to day life. So, when I get into detail below about priorities her, family & work are left out because this is independent of those priorities and runs parallel to them.
The answers to those questions had me spending some of the winter and early spring of 2017 testing different approaches and priority shifts. I feel like now I have developed enough of a list to write this post and explain how I came to it. See in my prior training for events I would put running on the top, if it interfered with sleep, diet choices or lifestyle routine & I would tell myself that was "OK" because I was training for big-bad ass things and I needed the work more than the others. Or that running was relieving stress & I needed to use it for that. Which is still the case some days but those are far less of late.
So through all the morning hikes listening to audiobooks, trials of different priorities & re-vamping of training & exercise regimens I've listed the 3 priority guidelines I’ve put in place as I develop & execute training for ultra’s.
#1 Diet. Will going for a run effect my ability to cook whole plant based foods to fuel my body? Will a run after work hinder going to the market to get fresh food, etc. Or do I have it already prepared ready to go? For me to settle on diet becoming the #1 thing was a big paradigm shift. But through my own personal growth I have found time & time again that a whole food plant based diet is key for me & aligns with where I am going & the journey I want to be on throughout life.
#2 Lifestyle Routine. Will going for a run effect what time I get to bed tonight? will I get up super early and fit a run in? I'm a mid-day runner normally but found myself stressing about trying to fit more miles in by going to bed later or getting up earlier, this is no more. I'm not saying the occasional late night or early morning runs are out completely. I still will go out and enjoy the stars on a nice night or the sunrise on a nice morning, but not at the expense of any stress about fitting in miles or not by breaking my day to day routine which I feel adds way more value to my days & life than a 6 miles jaunt at 11PM.
My morning is I get up at 6 and do 15-20 minutes of core strength & balance exercises. Then around 6:30 I take Dexter for about 15-20 minute walk down the gravel road & we talk out the day. When I get back I cook breakfast & cook & pack my lunch (sometimes dinner too) before getting ready and heading out for the day. So I ask myself will the run throw that off? that can then throw diet off, that can then send my whole week off, etc. So that is why Lifestyle Routine has taken the #2 slot.
#3 Body Signs. This one is quite simple & has been something I've always tried to do. Is my body welcoming a run? Are there any red flags that I'm overdoing it or is it simply saying no to the idea of a run? If so then maybe I do something different that brings me joy. This one has never been too much of an issue but every once in a while I would get so focused on a race that I would think I had to go out and do this or do that when in reality I didn’t.
I have big goals on my plate. I want to run both the entire Arizona trail & the AT Trail one day. I want to run up as many 14er’s in Colorado that I can. I want to run Boston in 2018 & I want to win a 100 miler someday. I want to finish 3-4 100's a year as it has become my favorite distance to run. The journey & the experience of a 100 is something I crave & truly enjoy. I understand that I can’t complete those things above without adequate training, but I do feel I can adequately train and adhere to these 3 guidelines. But lets say that training for these events while doing those things above doesn’t allow me to win races or run fast enough for Boston entry or whatever it may be. Is that going to derail me? Absolutely not. That will be exactly where I should be & I will be very happy with where I am at.
The reality is that there is no end goal, there is no 1 thing that my hat will be hung on, there is only this now. This journey that I am on is everything & I feel I have a clear vision of what I want that to look like & I feel that these priorities align with that & allow me to continue living my life, my way spending time doing things I love in places I love for as long as I can.
Thanks for listening & happy trails!