'Outside the lines'
With few exceptions runners strive each and every day, each and every training session to become faster, achieving and setting new goals along the way forever on the quest to reach beyond their presumed limits, to journey to the outer frontier to see just where the very edge of their limits and boundaries are....I know this, I know this as a coach and for several decades I knew and experienced this as an athlete.
In my experience the athletes (very often with the help of a capable and competent coach) that understand the need for intelligent sequentially progressive training methods are the runners that achieve sustained success. I call this the need for extreme training versus the alternate non desirable compulsive training. For simplification of definition I call this training 'inside the lines'...the implication and subsequent inference being that there must be something 'outside the lines'
Outside the lines
If this is your inference then you would be 100% correct. I believe firmly that (especially as we grow older into the Masters category) in order to achieve sustainable success as a competitive runner we need to plan well and part of that planning and organization is being attentive to the elements 'outside the lines' that afford us the opportunity to perform 'inside the lines'.
If we do this then we go a long way to 'flowing with or working with' physiology (Mother Nature) and if you really think about it the entire universe is about harmony and balance and so must our training be. Such elements include but are not limited to:
Health check ups (fitness does not always mean healthy)
Sleep and sleep management
Chiropractic work to align the skeletal structure
Core strength training
Cross training with non impact and/or non load bearing activities
Alternate activities for enjoyment such as reading, playing games (yes even video games to an extent), playing cards, watching movies or your favorite TV shows, being inclusive of friends and family without talking about your next race or workout, gardening, relaxing at a local coffee house or taking a nap on the couch or playing with your children, taking in a show.
Balance is the key life and specifically for us runners, sometimes the best workout we do is the one that we choose not to do.
I listen to my body and although I run to a planned schedule just as my athletes do, my first priority is to listen to my body and if I do not feel like running, I am confident that I am resting for the right reasons and not just because I am lazy. I can discern between the two. Over the years I have also cross trained through modalities such as surfing, rowing, shadow boxing and jump rope to work on my speed and agility and mental processing skills and by playing with my children as aforementioned… I believe in the benefits of Yoga, Pilates, Chiropractic work, Active Isolated stretching in addition to whiling away my time when I can relaxing with a cup of java in a Dunkin Doughnuts or Starbucks watching the world go by or shooting the breeze with my buddies. I encourage you to do the same. Do not be compulsive with your life. Be extreme by all means- live life to the full- but live it in the image of a planet which contains within it the necessary capacity for delicate balance between the intense fierceness of a raging hurricane and subsequent 100 foot seas with the gentle sound of a dove on a tree cooing on the edges of a golden meadow on a beautiful easy Sunday morning………..
Walk in peace and let the good times roll !