Are you having fun with your training? I had to ask myself this question a few years ago, when I was stuck analyzing my place in the world of sport, if I belonged, and more importantly, if I wanted to keep pushing myself to continue racing, performing and competing. For me, it all came back to this one question: Am I having fun?
Of course you might be doubting if running and especially training for ultra-distance races is any fun at all. It takes time and commitment, I’m usually tired all the time and prioritize early bed times. There are tough workouts, tough races, long days out and times where I feel drained and like nothing is clicking, yet, I do believe this whole process can be fun. There’s something nourishing to waking up every morning with a goal for the day, and trying to be the best version of myself athletically and professionally. Pushing myself in sport helps me to push myself outside of sport, they each feed off of each other. But there was a time when the pushing got to be too much, I was striving for perfection day-in and day-out and I began to dread training, goal-setting and racing, instead of letting it fuel me. So what did I change?
I prioritized fun. Something you hear me say a lot is ‘adventure.’ I started using this word instead of training. It has a positive connotation to it, plus, who doesn’t want to go on an adventure? You get to explore the world, or escape it for a little bit. It’s a time for just me, the dirt beneath my feet and my curiosity to wander with the trail. The second thing that helped me to get back the fun into training was the bike. Getting on the bike has been vital to my longevity as an athlete and it feeds my craving for adventure. At first, cycling was just a means to move and recover after injury, but now it’s incorporated nearly daily into my training (I mean adventure 😉 ) routine.
It’s something I look forward to, whether it’s just a short recovery ride, a long ride in my Colorado mountains, or a full week out, adventuring in a new place. I recently did just that, dedicating a whole week out on my bike, bikepacking in southern New Mexico. We loaded up our bikes with camping gear, food, and water and spent a week out on the trail, riding a 330 mile loop in the Gila National Forest. Of course, I ran a little bit in there, but it was because I wanted to, not because I had to for any training necessity. That’s the difference for me – wanting to do something rather that being forced to. Instead of thinking that I need to do ‘x, y, or z’ workout or specific training, in order to do well in a race, I mix it up and do the training that really excites me – sometimes it’s a week long bikepacking trip, other times it’s a track workout, but each one of these feeds my sense of adventure, and gets me excited to train, and head out the door to chase my potential.
So tell me, what’s your adventure plan looking like these days?