We all keep track of time. And whether we like to admit it or not, it helps to guide our actions, our relationships and at a cellular level – our biological, circadian rhythms!
But as runners time can be a totally different kettle of fish, if you know what I mean…
It can be a blessing and a curse. And quite typically it seems that we fall into one of three
traps/ groups when it comes to dealing with time:
1. Twitchers – Think twitchy feet and noses, those who love nothing better than to track splits and measure miles;
2. Nodders – People who give a knowing nod to a good run, and who run for time without tracking specific mileage;
3. Feelers – those who do neither and run/ skip/ bound along purely on ‘feel’, possibly over a known loop or course (or maybe they just forgot their watch?)!
Obviously there are going to be days of the week when we fall into different groups, especially if you are in the middle of a training cycle to prepare for a race e.g. Tempo run day will definitely be twitchy! But maybe on your easy recovery run day you take the ‘Feelers‘ approach, ditch the watch and run to the park & back?!
There is another way to measure time, and rather than using a watch or clock you can simply use your breath. In a yoga class teachers often suggest to count the number of breaths you can hold a pose for. This is a great way to firstly ensure that you are not holding your breath (please don’t do that!), and secondly to help you concentrate. The same practice could be done during a run, or for a section of a run – try it next time: count the number of breaths you take in between two landmarks and mentally take note. Play with a combination of effort level vs. number of breaths and see if/ how your breathing rate changes – think about how you might improve your breathing efficiency.
Last weekend I took part in the next race of the HURT series, ‘Run With The Pigs‘. It was a 22 mile out and back course, handicapped according to age and sex. And this is where I got lucky. The handicap for 34 year women gave me enough time to get away from the chasing men, and eventually make it back to the finish, carrying the stuffed pink pig toy, before being caught! In fact, when I realised that with a few miles to go no one was breathing down my neck, I tried to pick up the pace and make it back up the old Pali Road to the start/ finish area whilst still ahead (huffing and puffing past a few unsuspecting day trippers on the way). In the end, I was just pleased to finish feeling stronger than last year and was happy to wake up on Sunday morning feeling ready to run again.
But Sunday was one of those days that had been looming. It was the HURT 100 lottery announcement day. For the last few years I’ve been watching the HURT 100 in awe & wonder. I’ve also been patiently waiting for a chance, and time, to enter. And this is the year. The suspense at the lottery party was quite amazing, with the veterans of the Oahu ultra running scene all gathered around the lottery TV screen, everyone waiting to see who was going to be selected for a coveted place. My name was drawn third out of the hat. I wasn’t quite prepared for the reality of actually being selected for the HURT 100, but stumbled through a few words of thanks when the glow-in-dark wrist band was presented to me, and blinked a few times when I read the embellished words, “Not For The Weak”… right.
The next day, when waking up to the fact that a 100mile ultra run is on your horizon, it’s good to talk to someone about it. And as my husband and I chatted about it, we realised there is a different way to think about the
100 miles distance – think instead of time. Mountain bikers do solo 24 hour races, and so why not think in the same way. After all, the HURT 100 is an epic adventure over day and night (and maybe the next day…) through the mountains and forests of Oahu. And that is my new approach.
As a yogi once said:
“What we are about to undertake is an expedition together… Forget everything you know about yourself; forget everything that you have thought about yourself; we are going to set off as if we know nothing.” Krishnamurti.
Whether I take the twitching, nodding or feeling approach over the next few months will remain to be seen, but all I know right now is that there is alot to prepare for, and much work to be done. I’ve invested in the book, ‘Relentless Forward Progress’ by Bryon Powell and have had lots of advice already from local ultra runners. It’s going to be awesome.
ps. Who’s on Instagram? Check out the #RogaMonth and join in when you can! There are prizes to be won!!