Craig Wisner

Adrift.

As of late I find myself faced with questions, doubts, and new ideas concerning sport, a space I have come to realize is part and parcel for most athletes.  Goals are born, worked towards, shifted, achieved, abandoned for new ones.  I find myself questioning much of what I’m doing as a runner, what my goals are, what my focus should be.  Certain short-term things are known, but the bigger picture has become cloudy.

As of right now, I know two things:  I am running a 50K on May 21st and I have to do certain types of runs between now and then in order to be ready.  Second, I know I simply love to run, preferably in the mountains.

I believe the rest is flexible.

My general goals have always revolved around distance.  I am fascinated by the concept of going far under one’s own power and was drawn to serious running by the classic nature of the marathon.  Perhaps I am also attracted to distance because I seem to be better at it.  I’ve never been fast, but I seem to possess the ability to go pretty far, finding enjoyment in the mental and physical aspects of doing so.

In recent weeks, however, I’ve made a discovery in my running- that going as fast and hard as I can is fun.  My once-weekly track workouts have opened a new door and shed fresh light on aspects of running that I’ve generally always avoided, intentionally or not: namely speed and intensity.  In distance running, at least the type I practice, one has to be mindful of always maintaining a reserve, primarily so as to not get stuck in the mountains somewhere, facing an epic limp home.  But the track has taught me the joy of pushing hard until there’s nothing left.  Be it a 200 meter or a single mile, I find it refreshing to cross the finish line and punch the clock, head spinning after making the last turn and wondering if I’m going to collapse before I make the line.

This leads me to wonder about a new approach, combined with new running goals.  Perhaps after this 50K I’ll change my focus, building myself back up as a different sort of runner.  Despite my achievements- many marathon and ultramarathon distance runs, be they solo or official, I’ve always felt a little bit like a hack because, well…I’m pretty slow.  So I’m thinking about starting over, focusing on shorter, faster distances, and building back up to the marathon.  Only this time, really pushing for a fast time (relatively speaking), perhaps ultimately trying to qualify for Boston; currently a sub 3:15 for my 35-39 age group (I just turned 35).

Have I dodged running fast because I know it’s hard, because it scares me?  In many ways, I believe so.  It’s something I would like to overcome.

Am I allowing myself too much drift, to much slack in walking away from previous ideas and plans in pursuit of new ones?

Who knows.  There is certainly something to be said for finding something very difficult to achieve and sticking with the plan to get there.  In some senses, I feel like I’ve failed here, namely in my recent triathlon pursuits.   But on the other hand, are we not to allow ourselves experimentation?  Is it truly something to hang one’s head about if three months into training you find you’re just not that motivated about that particular sport or distance?  Good always comes from any endeavor, whether it’s seen through or not.  Though I never did do a triathlon, I overcame my fear of swimming, to the point I can get in the water and swim a mile without fear.  That is certainly worth something even though I never crossed a finish line.

Running will always remain a constant in some way, I have no doubts about that.  It is the sole physical activity that I’ve been able to regularly do without losing interest at some point.  So the question is simply what kind of running I want to do.  Perhaps I’d like to enter the mainstream for a while; race some 5Ks, work on my speed and form, and try to start establishing some PRs in the classic distances, working my way up.

On a side note, I believe I’m going to stop my running summaries here.  It’s redundant and too focused on numbers.  I’ll try to insert the link to my RunningAhead training log instead.

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3 responses

  1. Craig,

    I don’t think gravitating towards the traditional end of the spectrum in running would be a negative, if you’re out there running and training, enjoying the process, building the base, establishing the discipline- what risk is there really?

    Disciplined road runners are killing it in trail racing, Ian Sharman’s Rocky Raccoon 100 ungodly fast record setting race this past Feb. is testament of the ability for seasoned road runners to cross over fitness onto dirt. In some ways the “mystique” and clout around the established elite in trail running is diminishing as the sport matures and evolves, the exposure of the sport is bringing everyone out of the woodwork, not just the “Krupickas” of the scene putting in ridiculously high volume weeks in the mountains are doing well. I too am in a state of flux, I’m getting out there in the week putting in sporadic mileage, fulfilling my infatuation with kicking up dirt, sweating, finding some solitude, and enjoying the process… but the desire to test and prove to myself that I can be a more comprehensive runner has increased as of late. I want to gravitate to a point in my running where I’m less concerned about finishing the distance from the second I cross the start line as I am about pushing myself to the best of my ability at a given distance.

    If your goal is speed, you definitely know what that requires to get there. Your willingness to jump into something and test the waters is encouraging to me, keep it up yo.

    April 27, 2011 at 9:29 pm

  2. Thanks for the comments dude, it sounds like we’re in similar spaces- you describe it well. Sent an email your way.
    Cheers!

    April 27, 2011 at 10:00 pm

  3. Adan

    Ive recently started running rather than walking some of my local trails. I wouldnt call myself a runner, but now, after some really fun and consistent trail runs the past few weeks without misery, I can almost see how i, with enough fun, could become one. i dont know where it leads but for now i’m just enjoying it.

    i enjoy reading about your journey craig, its good to read something real once in a while. I agree with less running stats. looking forward to more about speed vs. distance, frankenbike, chickens and pottery! Keep it comin.

    April 28, 2011 at 9:51 pm

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