EDITOR'S NOTE: Along with Andrew Read and Narisa Wild, Julie Warren will be sharing her training experiences for upcoming endurance challenges. Follow Julie as she prepares for her next adventure - the Great Wall of China Marathon! Julie's journals will be posted on Saturdays.

 

Athlete Journal: Julie Warren, Entry 10 - Back to Basics

 

This week I decided to take a hard look at how my training has progressed over the past few weeks. While I have no doubts that my overall fitness has improved, I’ve been really struggling with some of the mental aspects of training. I realized that I’d started to look at each run as more of a chore than as an opportunity to go and do the one thing that I really love to do.

 

In the past few weeks, I’ve been overly critical of each mile, focusing more on the time spent covering that mile, rather than just enjoying the feeling of running and experiencing the sights and sounds around me. Suddenly each mile was being measured, analyzed, and critiqued. While it’s certainly important to understand how your training is progressing, I believe I let that go to the extreme. And that extreme caused me to lose my appreciation for running.

 

Okay, now that I recognize what the problem is, how in the world do I flip the script and get back on the right course? I decided to go rogue and change up my weekend training plan. My original training schedule called for a shorter (8 mile) tempo run, but the thought of that was absolutely dreadful. So dreadful in fact, that I was trying to find excuses to not even go for run during the weekend. Clearly, it was time for an intervention. New plan: take off the watch and GPS, and just go run. 

 

The weather this past weekend was amazing, so I decided to start with my familiar 8 mile trail loop and then enter “choose your own adventure” mode. I just wanted to go and explore and enjoy running again. No expectations. It was an incredibly refreshing and liberating experience. Gone were the mile-by-mile expectations and criticisms, replaced by the euphoria of running amazing trails, hurtling rocks and stumps, and just enjoying being able to run. I was no longer a slave to my GPS, but instead let my body dictate the pace. In the end, I know I ran for approximately 3 hours and covered approximately 18 miles of extremely hilly terrain. More importantly, I had an amazingly fantastic time and was grinning like an idiot the entire time. 

 

I think as athletes, it’s really easy to start to lose sight of what really matters to us. Sure, we want to improve and be the best we can. That being said, none of us chose our sport because of statistical potential. We chose it because it ignited something inside us. I will never forget how I fell in love with trail running. I remember the trail, the forest, the sounds, the smells, the everything. I was hooked. The fire was lit. That’s how it all started, with a simple fire. If we let that fire dwindle into smoldering ashes, then what in the world are we doing putting ourselves through the rigors, just to get a new PR? Passion is so important in what we do. It gives purpose to each and every workout. 

 

I can say that after this week, I think I love running again. I’m really looking forward to my 20K trail race this weekend, and I plan to keep the watch at home for that one as well. I want to see how this concept transfers over to the race day mentality. Ultimately, I just want to keep improving at my sport of choice, while still being able to simply enjoy it for what it is.