My build-up program consists of ongoing workouts designed to prevent glute injuries, running 5-6 miles every other day on the dirt roads around home, and a weekly long trail run. My body is responding well, so I’m already scheduling several future races--topped off with next summer’s Never Summer 50K (assuming there is one; if not, I’ll do the Bighorn 50K).
But, two challenges: Firstly, I’ve gained 10 pounds over the past year due to medications, resulting in a slower pace. More consistent running and fewer cookies should help. I’m about 50 pounds heavier and a couple of decades older than the average trail runner.
Secondly, I struggle with feeling that I have to beat the majority of runners in races. More specifically, I would rather not race than embarrass myself by finishing in the bottom half.
I’ve always finished in the top half, but given my age and weight and a base trail fitness still under development, I won’t meet my minimum expectation for a while.
Which means I have to either humble myself or not race. Becoming humble is a good character trait. Note: By saying that I have to humble myself, I don’t mean to insult people whose finish times are below the median. It’s more of a competition with myself. It’s a goal I’ve imposed like making straight A’s, earning a superior rating at work, or vainly making people think I’m cool.
Competition vs. Participation
Ryan Hill posted a comment the other day that is revolutionizing my thinking: he said that the original meaning of the word “competition” in Latin is to work toward a common goal together. It’s striving to enjoy the journey toward crossing the finish line--together--with speed being secondary. Of course, for the top 5%, speed may be primary, and that’s noble.
But the rest of us should see the whole experience of grinding toward the finish with others as the primary triumph, with rank being something that we might use to measure our own fitness, effort, strategy, etc. It helps when others (like my loving wife) remind us of this.
So I’m still learning to accept myself as I shoot for goals. Self-acceptance is one of the many treasures that trail racing can unearth for all of us.