Sunday, June 19, 2011

Where I'm At

Somehow Western States has crept up to only 6 days from now! When did that happen? Seriously, the amount of time I've spent thinking about this race so far this year compared to last year has been almost nothing. Not sure if this is a good thing, a bad thing, or simply just a different year/different thing.

It's been over two years now since I last trained with any serious structure (except for the structure that is a lack of structure), but this Spring has really evolved to a new level for me in this regard. In the past couple years as big races approached I did find myself focusing a little bit on peak training periods, high mileage runs, and specific tapers. Maybe I'll return to more of that again in the future, but so far I just haven't really done any of this in preparation for next week's race. Instead, I've just been running day to day more than I ever have. Even now, with the race at the end of this week I find myself thinking more about what run I'm going to do tomorrow than the run this coming weekend. This might sound like a careless and crazy approach to such a highly contested race, but I've had more fun than ever "training" for this race, and the more the line seems to blur between training and racing the more I seem to enjoy all of it, and the better my races seem to get from a performance standpoint.

At some point thus the question becomes: why race at all then? I'm still not to the point of seriously asking myself this question. I still get a lot of satisfaction from competing with others at something we've all put so much time and effort into. 29 days out of 30 I prefer to just be out running through the mountains at a mellow pace, exploring the terrain around me, but about once a month it's really fun to line up and push myself physically and mentally in conjunction with and in competition with dozens (sometimes hundreds) of other like minded folks. I imagine that I will eventually get to the point of not craving this kind of running anymore, or at least much less often than the once a month that I do now. For now though, come race day, I'm as focused and ready as anyone to scratch and claw to compete at my highest potential on that given day. I'm just not willing to compromise my enjoyment and nourishment from my running on the other 29 days of the month. I did that for a couple years in the past and there's just no comparison in terms of the nourishment that I get out of it. Training with a specific focus and purpose of trying to be as fast as possible on a given day at some point in the future feels so shallow and silly to me when compared to simply going out and doing the run that feels the most logical, enjoyable, and appealing on each given day.

So for now I'm thinking mostly about the Juneau ridge run that I'm probably going to do tomorrow morning, but come Saturday morning all of my focus will be turned to running from Squaw Valley to Auburn as fast as possible. And with the field showing up this year it's going to have to be really damn fast to have a chance of being anywhere near the front of the pack.


slowrunner said...

'sigh' juneau ridge - wish i were there! i miss your trails !!

have a great time at western geoff!

Eli M said...

That a boy. whats the purpose of running if you don't love it. I'm fourteen and plan on doing a 50k that is easy to drop out of if my body tells me to stop. I don't know what your schedule for this year is or if money is an issue but you should come to this 31 mile fun run. If this race interests you it is called the Wildcat 50k it is on November 25th you don't need to register ( you may want to bring money to donate) and it is between Muscatine IA and Bettendorf IA ( wildcat den state park).
For more info go to
Thanks for reading
P.S. if you do come it would really boost this race's participation level and it is not in a corn field.

jamesk said...

Good for you.

AJW said...

I've always liked the training more than the racing. See you in Squaw!


eric said...

I sincerely love this post. To have an athlete at the absolute highest level of the sport express such sentiments is truly inspiring.

nikolailash said...

I love your approach to running and racing. It's been inspiring to read about the connections you make between love and running. On I explore some of these same themes, but not with the experience you bring to your writings. Thanks Geoff!

DavidP said...

Completely agree with you.
You need to enjoy your day-to-day training in order to do your best in any race.
What happen if you have a bad day on day D? Crap!!

Mental aspects are so important as physical ones.

Best wishes on Saturday. We´ll be on line from Spain.
This year seems to be amazing!!!



Laura H said...

Right on.

Gary Vale said...

Geoff. I absolutely love your approach to your running. You are enjoying your runs everyday and are living your life for the present, not the future. That is such a great approach to life. The funny thing about this training approach is that I bet you are going to kill it at Western States because you will be focused on that run on that day. Enjoy your next run, and kick some ass at Western. My money is on you!

David @ World Karate said...

Running in the Alaska backcountry I'm sure is like a powerful drug. Go get your fix & enjoy the high on the ws trail.
David b

Tarzan Sutton said...

Man, you wrote what I've been feeling these past couple of yrs-I used to drive myself crazy with racing/training. I raced the past couple of yrs but was always feeling flat and burned out-I just couldn't get my MoJo going for another "fast" 10K. I stepped away and just ran and returned to my meandering ways of yrs ago and fell back in love with the act of running and the feeling of exploring. I do compete once in awhile, but recently this past yr I discovered Ultras! I love them and I love the simple approach to training for them-I just run and run! No speed work and I get to spend a ton of time on the trails, just traipsing along enjoying the experience. This feeling of "letting go" has filtered down into other areas of my life, I love it! Doing a 50K on 2 July-when the gun goes off, I'll be all bussiness, but I can't wait to get back to my roots of just running on the trails and enjoying nature and the fellowship of my running buddies. Best wishes for the weekend-you rock, Geoff!

Tina said...

Great and inspirational video, well done! You have such a great view about running, training, and racing! You're point about embracing the "lows" in a run, really caught my attention. :)

Have a great run at WS, and enjoy, enjoy!!