Shades of Grey

by coach Amy Anderson

You’ve decided to run a fall marathon.  It was your choice, your decision.  No one is forcing you to do anything you don’t want to.  And even though fall may seem like a long hot summer away, all of the decisions that you are making in May, June, July and August are affecting your race.  With every decision you make about running, strength work, nutrition, hydration, and rest, you should be asking yourself, “Is this choice advancing me toward my goal?”

Sometimes the answers are black and white.  Drinking all night on Friday and skipping your Saturday run clearly does not advance you toward your goal.

But sometimes the answers are… shall we say, “shades of grey”?

For example, your department at work may have happy hour.  Perhaps you decide to go, because you wish to bond with your team, but you promise yourself one beer, water to chase, and an early night. Is that one beer a hard limit?  Or a soft limit, depending on how good it tastes and how much fun you’re having?

As you train for your fall marathon, consider your daily nutrition choices.  If there are Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos in the office kitchen, do you grab a handful?  Or do you exercise some {ahem} restraint and decide that you’ll save your splurge for homemade cake on your sister’s birthday next weekend.

You’ve got an early flight to catch, and there’s no way you can fit in the 6 miles on your training schedule.  Do you skip it altogether for extra sleep?  Or are you willing to squeeze in 3-4 miles and call it close enough? Which choice advances you toward your goal?  Is it black, white, or some shade of grey?

In any scenario, you may not be comfortable with what another runner is comfortable with. However, you are the only person training for your race.  You get to decide.  But make it an informed decision, fully aware that the choices you are making today are affecting the race you run in the fall.

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2 thoughts on “Shades of Grey

  1. In Riff Raff, we have a motto: “We run hard, we play hard.” Staying out late on a Friday night is not an excuse for missing your run on Saturday morning. Period.

    My 5k PR is still 17:50, and I ran that while possibly still affected by the libations of the night before, after 3 hours of sleep, after spending the previous evening courting several authors whom I wanted to publish in my “day job” at my publishing company.

    A friend, who shall remain nameless (but whose name rhymes with “Biley, aka Bike Willin'”), were official pacers at the San Antonio Marathon last year. We actually had a 3rd Austin runner with us, who shall also remain nameless. I was 3:30, he was 3:45, and she was 5 hours. We stayed out until 2AM and got 3 hours of sleep. It was the first (okay, the second) marathon that I ever ran hung over, and we were, literally, the 3 most accurate pacers. I was 3 seconds off, and he was about 20 seconds off, and she was just a few minutes off. Most of the San Antonio pacers not only didn’t finish even close to their goal, but many of them didn’t even show up! It was a hot day, with temps in the 80s at the start.

    What am I saying? Am I saying you should stay out until all hours of the night and party, then try to run every single Saturday? No, I’m not saying that.

    Okay, maybe I’m saying that.

    No, seriously, what I’m saying is that we all have other obligations and desires, outside of running. We have jobs, families, and, yes, Austin is an awesome, fun town to live in, and many of us like to go to parties, the Alamo, happy hour, and so on, and, sometimes you have to pay the price.

    It’s just part of running. So, stay out, imbibe, have fun, but get up the next day and do what you’re supposed to do. Stop thinking about it and just do it. Hangovers will come and go, but a good marathon finish will stay with you forever.

    –Panther

  2. Yeah, don’t abandon your life just because you run in the morning.
    That’s weak sauce, and you’ll wake up from it 4 years later thinking, “wow, all i did was eat sleep and run. I totally missed out on actually living my life! I missed the great musci sshows, I missed my friend’s 30th birthday party, I missed the Hungergames midnight premiere, I missed blue on the green, I missed… ”
    Hangovers are god’s way of saying “You kicked ass last night!” and the best way to back that up is to rock your run the next morning.
    Plus, it’s just the “getting out of bed” part that’s difficult… the running… that’s the easy part, and it knocks the hangover right out of you!

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