Category Archives: training

Train harder, faster, and smarter with ultimate training tool SUUNTO Spartan Ultra!

In classical history, no other breed of warrior has struck fear into rival civilizations such as the Spartans. Trained to deal with adversity and succeed against seemingly impossible odds, the Spartan warriors continue to inspire modern day feats of heroism among athletes who drive themselves to ever higher peaks of excellence.

Today’s athletes need not fight to the death to excel but then the same ethos that drove the ancient Greeks to heroic feats is what drives today’s competitive warriors. The hunger for excellence and passion for continuous progress drives the modern day Spartans. Whether it is in the pursuit of running, cycling, triathlon, powerlifting, or plain and simple badassery, the Spartan athlete is about pushing the boundaries of human potential—to work harder than the rest, to keep going when others are about to quit, and to be the last one standing. It is the passion to progress.  It is about being part of Team Progress Beyond Logic.

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Finnish company SUUNTO, known for its tough-as-nails-line of wrist-top computers, unleashes its first most capable device and training tool made specifically for the unbreakable athlete: the Spartan Ultra (SU). Featuring a space grade titanium bezel, high contrast color touchscreen display, and a multitude of features in its quiver, the SU is what a modern day warrior needs!

Spartan Ultra (all black titanium)
Spartan Ultra (all black titanium)
Key Features

•Titanium bezel and proven durability make SU light and incredibly tough, enough to take the knocks and drops of everyday training without skipping a beat.

•Outdoor grade color screen provides high contrast display, which is easily visible under any light condition. SU’s intuitive menu lets the wearer easily set features according to athlete’s training needs.

•Preset sport modes are designed for the multisport athlete.  Preset modes include cycling, outdoor/indoor running, swimming, weight training, and more. These can be further customized in the Movescount site.

• Multi-info display shows three to eight lines of information depending on the mode, reducing the need to scroll between display modes, and distract one from the workout.

•20-200H battery life, efficient Bluetooth, and GPS technology minimize energy consumption—a must for IRONMAN athletes, ultra distance runners, and multiday trekkers.

•Its Bluetooth connectivity can be paired with SUUNTO cadence/HR pods, third party devices like power meters, and can also be synced to a mobile phone for e-mail alerts.

•Provides smart training insights every time SU is sync at the Movescount site where athletes have access to helpful training metrics such as time in Training Zones, Training Effect, Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption, and training logs.

•Community powered progress is another feature that offers connectivity to the Movescount community, and where athletes can reach out to coaches, discover new routes using the heat maps, and even plan next ride or run by downloading the route to SU.

•Personal best and peer group training insights function informs the wearer when a new Personal Best or Personal Record is hit during a workout as well as compares performance with fellow athletes.

Spartan Ultra (black)
Spartan Ultra (black)
Availability and Pricing

SUUNTO Spartan Ultra is distributed by Time Depot and available at the following stores nationwide:

Metro Manila Time Depot Rockwell, Shangri-La, Festival Mall, SM the Block, SM Mall of Asia, Robinsons’ Manila, Maximus Athlete’s Café Shop

North Luzon Time Depot Harborpoint Subic

Visayas and Mindanao Time Depot SM Cebu, SM Davao, Centrio Cagayan de Oro

•Spartan Ultra All Black Titanium – P 45,000

•Spartan Ultra Stealth Titanium – P 40,000

•Spartan Ultra Black – P 40,000

•Spartan Ultra White – P 40,000

Spartan Ultra Stealth Titanium
Spartan Ultra Stealth Titanium

Stars Power “Kembot” Training Run (25 Jan. 2015 : Silang, Cavite)

A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation from fellow blogger Rikki, leader of the Fabulous Running Divas (FRD) running group and one of the organizers of the long slow distance (LSD) dubbed as LSD with the Stars Power Kembot* in Silang, Cavite.  It was a training run in preparation for the Condura Skyway Marathon event.  A timely invite as I needed a 3:30-hour LSD (regardless of distance) for an upcoming race sometime in March.  I have run Silang terrain—part trail, part road—last year during the summer months with two lady friends. [Related: One Fine Sunday Morning]. Running with another group or groups although at a different location and with majority of runners that I haven’t met face-to-face yet, turned out to be a new experience for me.

*Kembot – means swaying or wiggling of hips
Silang LSD 1
Taken at the Silang Plaza near the Municipal Hall (Photo courtesy of FRD) . Can you find me?

At almost half past three in the morning, our group left Makati and headed to Silang, Cavite via Cavitex and arrived at the meetup place in Silang Plaza/Municipal Hall, with enough time to exchange pleasantries with some friends.  It was freaking cold for people like me who is not accustomed to a freezing weather.  The LSD started with a prayer then followed with a short message from FRD Rikki, some photo ops, and warmup dance exercises led by FRD Vicente Blue.  The energy and excitement all around was amazing!  A support vehicle, which served as hydration-food-medical station-baggage area rolled into one was made available during the training run.  Thanks to Jerome, a runner himself, for volunteering to support the runners.  There were 67 runners of 11 different running groups (Mananakbong Kabitenyo, Takbo Kabitenyo, Team Latak, PAR, NCRC, Team Hugot, WELLNESS, Team PIGS, Teamba, Maharlika, FRD) took part the LSD or training run.

Some of the runners who took the LSD or training run
Some of the runners who took part in the training run (Photo by RunningDiva.ph)

A combination of on-road and off-road route with gradual to moderately challenging uphill run for an extended distance made the training run interesting.  Also, running in a place with super friendly residents has made all the difference.  My Garmin watch registered a distance of 25.42 kilometers in 3:21:54 hours.  The finish time is within the goal I set for myself.  Not bad at all for a training run.

With the Master of the Ceremony Erich C.
With the Master of the Ceremony FRD Erich C. (Photo courtesy of FRD)

As for me, all I wanted was a different setting for my target LSD, but got the surprise of my life when my name was called for the special award “Best Running Outfit” during the simple yet super fun awarding ceremony.  WOW!  I never expected it really.

Silang LSD 3
The two awards received: a medal for “Best Running Outfit” and glass trophy for “Blogger of the Year 2014” (Photo by RunningDiva.ph)

To top it off, the FRD Blogger of the Year 2014 glass trophy award, made personally by FRD Rikki, which according to him, “made with love” was also given to me.  I was greatly touched by the gesture.  Overall, it was an awesome run—good route, friendly bunch of people, and unforgettable event for everyone involved. Special shout-out to FRD Lyana for mapping out the training route. Congratulations FRDs and Team Latak, and to all who participated in this training run! Until next time!

Corregidor Marathon Training, 21 December 2014

It was not only after four years after that l had the chance to run the Corregidor lnternational Half  Marathon (CIHM) event since its inception in 2010.  Proud to be invited by a high performance Corregidor International Half Marathon team to test run the route a few years back. Note: Both the Corregidor Marathon (CM) and CIHM events, however, were rescheduled to January 11 and 12 respectively instead of December last year to give way to relief operations in areas affected by typhoon Yolanda.

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                                                             El Lobo supports Corregidor marathon training

Yes, running races back to back, a full marathon on a Saturday and a half marathon on a Sunday of the same weekend in January 2015, is slightly nutty and a new challenge which l haven’t tried before. To prepare myself on this, last Sunday, l joined the last batch of participants  who went to Corregidor Island to train with them and run portion of the race route. Training started with a three-part warm up exercises led by the CIHM founder, Edward Kho. For our main training, we did seven repeats up a hill, increasing effort each time until we were confident enough to continuously run the hill.  So glad to have come and learned new ways to tackle it. Training ended with cool-down stretch exercises.   This is it! No more backing out! 

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Corregidor Marathon and CIHM participants and soon-to-be-soon-to-be Corregidor brave warriors

Super duper thanks to El Lobo Energy Drink through Sir Willy and Sun Cruises for the warm support.   Also, kudos to one of the lady Philippine Masters athletes who assisted Edward and took beautiful photos during the training session.  It was also nice to meet newfound friends.  See you at the starting line!

One Fine Sunday Morning Run

It has been roughly almost two weeks since my visit to Baguio City for the 2013 Panagbenga “a season of blooming” flower festival, but still have yet to write an article about it. Missing to do a long slow distance (LSD) the other weekend, I made up for it last Sunday.

Meanwhile, the day before my long run, a fellow runner sent me this text message: Are you back? My reply was, “Yep,” and even added, “It’s BDM (acronym for Bataan Death March) weekend now.” We exchanged a little friendly banter of doing the LSD there. Half jokingly, half seriously, she prodded me to inquire if we could sign up at the event and run a fifty to seventy-kilometer distance para daw payat kaagad (so as to lose weight instantly). Given the time, I knew it would be impossible to register. This event is organized under strict adherence to BDM rules including registration requirements. I replied, “Huwag na. Done na tayo doon. Beauty rest na muna. (Let’s not. We’re done with it. It’s better to have a beauty rest.) Running around Rockwell or going to another place is OK with me.”

In the end, we agreed to do LSD somewhere in the south, in the scenic trail she told me where she and her running buddy, now a dive instructor at a resort in the Visayas, used to train. A bowl of lugaw or arroz caldo (porridge or congee with chicken topped with hard-boiled egg) at Aling Pina’s Lugawan (canteen) in Silang, Cavite was the prime motivator to do this run.

We left at past 4 AM on Sunday morning and drove straight up to Santa Rosa, Laguna. We arrived in the village, an upscale residential area close to a golf course at almost half past five. As there are sari-sari stores along the way, I only brought enough money with me for any hydration or food need. Sari-sari means variety or a different mix of whatever or mini grocery.

It was still dark with patchy drizzle at times. The long path was almost deserted; the only living creatures in sight were us. The road was lit only by the headlights of a passing car or motorbike, the silence broken only by the noise of the engine and our incessant chatter. We started to walk the course to warm up our rather still sleepy legs, going up a sloping pavement with the first few kilometers relatively less steep than the others. Watching the pre-dawn glow of bluish-gray, purple, pink and orange burst into yellow sunlight, revealing the beauty of Mother Nature at its best. Fantastic sight!

The route is more a trail for bikers than for runners. Judging the way some locals eyed us, I think it was pretty uncommon for them to see female runners taking the same route the bikers would pass later. Anyway, for two hours, not taking water or energy drink, this little detour didn’t bother us, as we were enjoying the sights, taking in a deep breath and loving the wind as it brings the smell of flowers, soil, grass, trees and the feel of the fresh dew on the grass. The good training base in ultra distance running had helped us a lot. We did a combination of slow running, walking.

When I was still a young girl, I was bitten by a dog once. Consequently, I get scared of either stray dogs or the unleashed ones. I learned a few techniques through watching Dog Whisperer episodes on National Geographic channel and tried to apply the Cesar Millan way, ha ha. It helped me muster the courage not to get scared when some of them are barking at us as we walked by. So every time we saw one, even if it’s not barking at us, we stopped running from time to time, walked a bit then resumed a jogging pace.

On our way back, the sky suddenly became overcast with heavy rain clouds, later the rain started to pour, which made running more pleasant. After a few minutes, the rain let up, then just as suddenly the sun shone again. Nearing the place from where we started, we stopped to rest and quenched our thirst with fresh buko juice (coconut water) at Mang (mister) Vic’s buko stall. To top it off, much to our delight, Mang Vic gave us free freshly cut pineapple slices.

Overall, we did the LSD for six hours, covering the areas of Santa Rosa in Laguna, Silang in Cavite, and a portion of Tagaytay with a distance of approximately 48 kilometers. For lunch, we treated ourselves to a great tasting crispy fried shrimps plus a bowl of beef bone marrow/shank soup, a cup of rice each and fresh mango shakes. On our drive back home, we grabbed breads to go and a cup of coffee later, the perfect end to our trip.

I would like to thank this lady adventurer, hard-core ultra marathon runner, and trail seeker, who remains grounded despite all the experience and achievement, Ivy aka the Running Contessa (Italian countess), for the invite, photos, and for bringing me to a good route to run at early morning. Until next time! 

RUNNING DIVAs and the Running Skirt

It’s like a popular title of a book, “East Meets West.” Thanks to the power of technology we call Internet. It connects people from other parts of the world. It leads to people with common passion.

I’ve met other running divas, two of them, albeit virtually.

(Left photo: The Running Diva from Canada)

I can still remember the day when Pojie aka Forefoot Runner told me at Takbo.ph’s shout box that there’s another Running Diva.

If I remember right, I think I told him, “Yes, there are so many running divas out there.” When he gave me the link, betcha by golly wow, I was astonished by what this runner has achieved. She’s a pro! A word-class athlete! To top it off, she’s an opera singer.

This blog has a widget that shows links to followers. The first ever follower of this blog was Ms. Nora aka Life Begins at 50. “Thank you, Ms. Nora.But when I saw more and more followers, oh well, I decided to add it as one of the features of this blog.

(Right photo: Running Diva Mom from the US)

One day, I was surprised to see a follower whose moniker is Running Diva Mom. Wow! A diva mom. She can run fast. She has over three hundred followers. Awesome, right?! Her fave running gears are Bondi Bands and running skirts. In this photo, she’s wearing the animal print running skirt.

Running is my me time and it makes me a better mommy,” her blog says.

Music. Skirt. Training. Races. Blog. Personal Best. Diva. Running. These are some of the things that connect us as a running diva. I’m sure there are still other running divas out there. Imagine seeing divas on the run and in skirts…

Talking of running skirt, it’s so timely that I came across with an article about women who run in skirts. According to Runner’s World (RW), some people were thrilled about the idea but others think that women who wear running skirts are considered not-so-serious-athletes. Hhmm.

Anyhow, the pros and cons are discussed so well. But what sparked my interest was the author’s conclusion about the issue. And, I quote RW’s author, Kristin Armstrong:

I have to admit that I still love my shorts and my half-tights. But one of the best things about being a woman today is that we have so many options. Whether we are in the boardroom, on the home front, or on the starting line, we can bring it on like a man, but it doesn’t mean we have to look like one.”

Survey says

Have you ever run in a running skirt?

50% *No, and I never will
25% No, but I’d consider it
13% Yes, on occasion
11% Yes, I wear them all the time
1% Yes, but I won’t wear one again

*Poll not restricted to women; results may be skewed. Based on 1,492 votes at runnersworld.com. (Source: The Rise of Skirt Culture, by Kristin Armstrong, RW, published 28 Aug. 2008)

Comments about running skirts

22% Say skirts feel much better than shorts
18% Think women shouldn’t be so focused on their looks
17% Will never go back to running shorts
15% Love how they look in a skirt
15% Believe real runners don’t wear skirts
13% Wear skirts because they’re “thighly blessed
(Source: Running Commentary, RW, October 2008)

The Five Stages of a Runner

My friend Ruth, told me that she borrowed two books about running from her boss. I thought it was merely to tell me that she’s back into running and is reading some materials about running.  Few weeks later, I learned that she borrowed that for me so I can read them. Thanks, Ruth for the thought. Deeply touched by the gesture. (“,)

Anyhow, since the books are now with its owner, I had no recourse but to look for it thru the Net. I love technology. It gets handy when one wants many hits about a particular search.

I am sure some of you, especially, those who are hardcore runners have heard of Jeff Galloway.  Mr. Galloway, based on my readings, was born on 12 July 1945. By this time, he’s only 63 years old and turning 64 years old come July 2009. He’s a lifetime runner.  Really?! I wish I could.

He was an All-American collegiate and a member of the 1972 US Olympic Team in the 10,000 meters.  To date, he remains a competitive athlete and has a continuing career in running by managing Galloway Productions, conducting training programs and events, owning running specialty stores and writing articles for Runner’s World magazine.  Amazing feat for an athlete!

OK, back to my story. After browsing the Net, I finally found one of the books Ruth showed me. And I wanted to share it with you, dear readers.  And I hope you don’t mind.

If you try Google search, it will also give you a glimpse of the pages and some chapters. However, you can’t download them because of copyright restrictions. Anyway, why I got so interested in his book? It was the Chapter on the Five Stages of a Runner. It really is interesting. Check it out yourself. And, whether you agree with the author or not, it doesn’t matter.

Ready?

Brace yourself.

Here we go…!

The Five Stages of a Runner

Here is the second chapter from Galloway’s Book on Running, “The Five Stages of A Runner.” If you have been running for a while, you’ll probably be surprised (and amused) to read Jeff’s description of the stages we all go through.

“I STARTED RUNNING when I was 13. I was immediately intoxicated with a beginner’s enthusiasm: the very special thrill of exertion, and a feeling that my body had vast capabilities. Of course, I tried to maximize every jog and thrill on that first run and then had to hobble around for a week, almost too sore to move.

But once the soreness diminished I was back out there, running again. I was hooked. As in any skill or craft, there were various stages of involvement, competence and enjoyment. Now that I’ve been running for over 25 years, and have spent a great deal of time helping others weave running into their lives, I see a similar pattern of evolution in just about all runners.

Progress is a matter of learning, maturing and knowing yourself; one stage leads logically to the next. Not everyone has the same aspirations; all runners are not seeking Olympic gold. But understanding the experience common to most veteran runners — though you may not go through all five stages described here — will enable you to minimize the pitfalls and maximize the gains of your running future.”

THE BEGINNER

Stage One: Making the Break

Every beginning is precarious. There you are, perched on the edge of starting something entirely new, yet there are distractions, even criticisms, that cause detours and dead ends. You want to be more healthy and fit, but you may not realize how secure you’ve become in an inactive world. Each time you go out for a run you encounter a new side of yourself — one that must somehow be integrated into your daily life.

There is usually a struggle within and without. The old lifestyle is there and offers security. When the energy of “beginning” wears off, it’s harder to motivate yourself to go out for that daily run. You’ll face a lot of obstacles at first. It’s all too easy to stop when the weather turns cold, when it rains or snows, or when you feel the aches and pains of starting. You haven’t had to deal with these things before and the temptation to quit is strong.

Your running may also be threatening to your less active friends. Eventually you — the beginner — and your non-running friends work it out. The transition period, however, can be unstable and uncomfortable for both. If you falter, the old world — comfortable in many ways — is waiting for you to slip back in. If you’re lucky enough to make new friends who share similar fitness goals, you’ll probably find refuge in the “fit” world while you gain your “running security.”

Social reinforcement makes it easier to establish the fitness habit. One good approach is to find a group that meets regularly. Or you can make a pact with a friend who drags you out on bad days and vice versa. Races and fun runs are great opportunities to meet people.

At times, you may not progress as fast as you expected. We Americans are traditionally hyperactive and impatient. When we plant a seed, we not only want it to grow, we want it to become a tree by next week. We want results. When you start, you want to see physical and psychological benefits. But if you push too hard, you can tire yourself out and end up quitting in frustration.

The seed of exercise — if you don’t crush it — will survive periods of moisture and drought. Just when it seems to be drying up, it will spring to life, rejuvenated, and propel you further down the road. Don’t be discouraged, even if you’ve stopped. Tomorrow is another day. Many beginners stop and start again 10 or 15 times before they get the habit established.

Beginners who don’t put pressure on themselves seem to have an easier time staying with it. If you simply walk/jog 30-40 minutes every other day, you’ll find yourself gently swept along in a pattern of relaxation and good feeling. Your workout starts to become a special time for you.

As you make progress you find within yourself the strength and security to keep going. At first you’re “just visiting” that special world when you go out for a run. But gradually you begin to change. You get used to the positive relaxed feeling. Your body starts cleaning itself up, establishing muscle tone, circulating blood and oxygen more vigorously. One day you find you’re addicted, and the beginner becomes a jogger.

THE JOGGER

Stage Two: Entering the New World

The jogger feels secure with running. It may be hard to start each day’s run but, unlike the beginner, you can identify with those who are addicted. You may be intimidated by the “high achievers” — competitors and marathoners — but you have begun to understand the benefits of fitness and made a significant break with the old, non-fit world. The jogger’s runs are satisfying in themselves. There is almost always a “glow” at the end of the run, a reward for the effort. If you miss a run you may feel guilty — a rare experience for the beginner. Beginners often complain that they’re bored while running, but joggers find this problem decreases and then disappears as their distances increase.

Rarely does a jogger have a plan or goal. Most run as a healthy diversion and don’t feel the need to get anything more out of it. They just get out there when they can and do what they can. Those who do feel they need a plan often think they don’t know enough to prepare one. They may pick up a few tips from a more experienced running friend or — ideas from a running magazine. Unfortunately this often ends in frustration or injury because such plans are not based upon the jogger’s own individual abilities and goals, but upon someone else’s.

At first you probably needed a group or at least another person for motivation and direction. As a jogger you are a bit more independent. You’ll prefer company to running alone, but you’ll pick and choose your group with care. Most beginners seek anonymity within a group while joggers often enjoy identification with a group.

As a beginner you may have attended a few fun runs or an occasional race. Joggers, however, mark the local 10Ks on their calendars. These are motivational stepping stones to keep the daily runs on track. There will often be one major race in the jogger’s schedule, like the Bay to Breakers, Peachtree Road Race or the Corporate Challenge. Although you’re not running competitively or for time improvement, a sense of competition may begin to develop. By piecing together a growing series of successful and non-threatening running experiences, you begin the transition into a more fit lifestyle.

There are always conditions — injury, a long stretch of bad weather, a partner dropping out — that may stop your running and force you to start over again as a beginner. When the year’s big race is over, you may lose the motivation to keep going. A jogger will sometimes give up running completely, but usually will start again after an extended layoff.

THE COMPETITOR

Stage Three: When Competition Is the Main Driving Force

There is a competitive streak, sometimes hidden, in all of us. As we continue to run, it will most likely surface. If kept under control, the competitive urge can be a great motivator, stimulating you to train well and to push yourself further than you might have otherwise. But with many runners, competition, rather than the many other benefits of running, becomes the goal.

You become a competitor when you start to plan your running around racing goals. It all starts innocently enough. After a few races you begin to wonder how fast you might run if you really trained. Before you know it you’re caught in a compulsive drive to run faster at the expense of running enjoyment.

Not all joggers enter this stage. Many simply remain joggers while a very few pass directly to the stage of “runner.” If you do find yourself becoming obsessed with competition, however, here are some things you might expect:

Initially the competitive spirit is exciting and rewarding. You’re running faster because of increased training. You read everything you can on training, stretching, nutrition, etc., and become somewhat of an expert on each. There are always new training techniques to try out and you give them all a whirl. (Only later do you realize that many of them are contradictory.)

But as the competitive drive grows, you start feeling insecure. You no longer value your daily runs for their own worth, but think only of how well they prepare you for races and better times. Missing a run seems to spell racing doom. You can almost feel the fat being deposited on your body and see the seconds you fought hard to erase ticking back on the clock. When you hear of a workout a friend has performed before achieving a personal record, you have to match it or die trying.

Occasionally you’ll run alone, but often you’ll seek out small groups of better runners to train with and find you’re making every workout a race; you’ll push the pace to “victory” or make others earn theirs. In the same way, every race becomes a challenge to a new personal record. You may begin to choose races for the ease of terrain and lack of quality competition.

Once the competitive spirit has taken over you tend to lose sight of your limitations. If a small mileage increase brought about a small improvement, you’ll try large mileage increases to gain a large improvement. Although you’ve read many times about the need for rest, you feel that yours is a special case — you don’t need as much recovery time as other mortals. For weeks you may feel tired most of the time, yet have trouble sleeping at night. You become irritable and make life difficult for your family and friends. Finally you push too far and break down with injury, sickness or fatigue, and you either can’t or don’t want to run.

At this point you may feel betrayed by your body. Here you are trying to mold it into greatness and it won’t respond. You fail to realize the improvements you’ve made during the past months or year and only visualize your fitness slipping away, your goals going down the drain. Thinking that your body is tricking you (or that an injury layoff is a sign of weakness) you get back into training too soon. Trying to run through the problems only makes them worse and leads to new injuries, and you miss the very races you’ve pushed yourself so hard for.

Still, when the frustration has passed (and the pounds have settled back on) you’ll probably start running again. Hopefully you’ll have learned a lesson. You’ll “recycle” and work your way up the ladder again. When you’ve put competition into perspective you’ll pass into the stage of “athlete,” or even “runner.”

There are some very positive lessons to be learned from competition and fortunately not all competitors have to go to such extremes to learn them. Pushing through tiredness and discomfort in a race to a new personal record is not only rewarding in itself, but gives you an idea of what you can do in other areas of your life.

Strengths we have never used lie buried in each of us. Being challenged to our limits through competition helps these surface. Competition can be the path-finding mission which allows us to map our inner resources. At the same time, experiencing some frustration and pain can help us realize our limitations. By struggling we discover a bit more about the person inside us; we can learn from our mistakes and move on to new heights.

THE ATHLETE

Stage Four: Being the Best You Can Be

As an athlete, you find more meaning in the drive to fulfill your potential than in compulsively collecting times and trophies. You’ve finally got a handle on competition, and it’s not the only motivation. Being an athlete is a state of mind which is not bound by age, performance or place in the running pack.

For a competitor, victory and defeat are tied to performance. Times, flat courses, ideal conditions are all important. For the athlete, victory lies in the quality of effort. When you run close to your potential on a given day, it’s a victory. You internalize competition and transcend it, knowing your limits and capabilities. You understand what’s important and what you must do to accomplish it. As you compete, you breathe in the race, vaporize it, absorb what you need and exhale the rest. Running becomes your own work of art.

Competitors search for races they can win. Athletes look for competition, but are not intent on a higher ranking or better performance (from a flat, fast course, etc.). They thrive on a challenging competition that is run in the best way possible — from the inside out — and they are, not incidentally, rewarded in the long run by faster times. Nevertheless, athletes are also found in the back of the pack, or they may choose smaller races over the big media events because they don’t want to feel lost in the sea of humanity.

Gradual progress is more important to the athlete than a fast time in a given race. You now have an internal concept of what you can do. When progress slows or is blocked, you revise. With every run, your internal training computer is fed with good data that gives you a new readout of possibilities. You know when to disregard a bad run and not get depressed.

Though you once may have been a competitor who read everything and tried most of it, as an athlete you now read only what has practical value. When problems arise you look for literature on the subject by authors you trust. Your reading ties into an overall plan. You’re no longer sampling everyone’s tips and tricks like treats out of the cookie jar.

Planning is important. Although you’re flexible, you plot goals and races 6-9 months in advance. The athlete is capable of continuous re-evaluation, and may change goals from week to week. Plans are not always written; some athletes are so in tune with their bodies they can work from a mental notebook. Whether your plan is written or “programmed” you know where you’re going. You may not know the exact vehicle you’ll take, but you know you will arrive.

Like other humans, athletes are not perfectly consistent. Sometimes you’ll slip back and become a competitor. After a series of successes, you may become dissatisfied with performances that fall short of your goals. Rather than evaluating, analyzing and readjusting, you may dwell upon the bad day, the slump, or the poor showing, and feel a sense of failure.

Great athletes at any level realize that “success” is in the eye of the performer. There can be success in every experience. If you can seize upon the positive aspect of each experience you can string together a series of successes that form a pattern of progress.

Some athletes reach a level of achievement or satisfaction and retire from competition; a few even quit running entirely. Many choose a reduced level of activity, others maintain a fairly high yet sensible level. Many continue to grow and move into the final and most rewarding stage, the runner.

THE RUNNER

Stage Five: The Best of All Stages

The final stage of the running journey blends the best elements of all the previous stages. The runner balances the elements of fitness, competition, training and social life and blends running with the rest of his or her life. There may be times when the runner reverts to earlier stages — mature people in any field have this problem — but these are only passing bouts that are assimilated into the overall harmony. The runner is a happy person.

As a runner, the primary focus of your life is not running. It may be family, friends, work, and is often a blend of many things. Running is now a natural part of your daily program — as is eating, sleeping or talking. You know you’ll get in that daily run although you may not know when. When you do miss a run you aren’t in agony. In fact, you don’t miss many days over the span of a year.

If scientists announced tomorrow that running was harmful, you’d read the news with interest and go out on your daily run. You know about the positive effects of exercise, but that alone doesn’t get you out on the roads. You get so much satisfaction from the experience itself that running has become a necessary and stable part of your active lifestyle.

As a runner, you’ll enjoy the companionship of running with others, but most of your running will be done alone. You appreciate the peace and inner reflection provided by the solitary run more than you did in the earlier stages.

Great satisfaction comes from being able to mold your body into form, and there is an art in combining just the right amounts of strength, endurance, form and performance training. A race can be the opportunity to pull out deep hidden strengths. Once you’ve learned these things, the joy lies not in the race, but in the running.

Even though you may plan for occasional competition with the same care as a competitor, there is none of that fixated intensity. The race isn’t sacred. If stresses or problems arise there are always other races.

Occasionally the runner is injured. This is usually due to reverting to one of the earlier stages in a workout or race. Now — through experience — you’ll know the difference between a common ache and a problem and you’ll back off at the first sign of the latter. You’ll sacrifice workouts, races and time goals to heal an injury early and get back to 100% as soon as possible.

As a runner you experience the enjoyment of each stage and retain the best of each of them. You can relive the beginner’s excitement in discovery, appreciate the jogger’s balance of fitness and enthusiasm, share the competitor’s ambition, and internalize the athlete’s quest. Having consolidated and balanced all these stages, you appreciate the creative and positive aspects of each and let them enrich your running life.

(From Galloway’s Book on Running, ©2002 by Jeff Galloway. Shelter Publications, Inc., Bolinas, Calif. Distributed in bookstores by Publishers Group West)

Back to reality. Too long for an article, eh? If you’ve reached this far, I admire you for your interest and patience. So, what kind of a runner are you then? What stage are you in right now? Whatever it is, be patient. After all, to be a runner, is a lifetime goal.

Related:

The Galloway’s Book on Running

Planning: Where to Start

The Running Revolution

Run Injury Free

Marathon: You Can Do It!