Monday, May 20, 2013

Elites and the Rest of Us

As you may have noticed, I've been doing a Monday recap of my training from the previous week. I'd like to keep that up, because it gives me a chance to reflect on what went right/wrong in the week's training, and a chance to pass that wisdom onto you.

Last week's workouts (week ending 5/19)
Running - x4 (20.29 miles total)
Cycling - N/A
Core - x2
Strength - x1
Foam rolling - x4
Salt bath - x1

My workouts felt pretty good. My run on Friday was at a 7:13/mi pace and my run on Sunday was at a 7:05/mi pace. I'm not quite sure where the speed came from, but I'm not really complaining either. My right quad felt a bit tight after my run on Sunday, but I think the side leg raises, clam shells, and salt bath helped that one out.

Running Celebrities
More exciting than my speedier training runs -- I met Kara Goucher on Saturday at the Portland Rock 'N' Roll Half Expo. (For those of you who don't know, Kara's an Olympic runner, and a fellow Portlander to boot.) Thanks to Twitter, I learned that she'd be speaking at the Expo on Saturday. So I showed up, just expecting to hear her talk. What I didn't expect was that she'd be doing an autograph and photo op after her talk.
In honor of the "pics or it didn't happen" saying...
I'll be honest -- the runner nerd in me was a bit starstruck. Fortunately, that didn't last very long.

But back to her talk. It was interview-style -- some guy (I have no idea who he was) asked her questions about her running career for about 30 minutes, then he took a break so that the audience could ask questions (this was about 10 minutes), and then her husband and son joined her on-stage to discuss the career-family balance for a few minutes.

Her solo portion of the talk was excellent! A few highlights:

-She had tried other sports, but running was the first one that felt natural. In her words, "Running was the first sport where I didn't have to think."

-Elite runners, like the rest of us, have good races and bad races. Sometimes (e.g., her 2007 World Championship 10K), the elements are going to all come together, and the race will feel incredible (and possibly surreal). But in some races (e.g., 2009 Boston Marathon), she's given it everything she can and has fallen short of her goal. She was initially disappointed by missing a goal she felt was realistic, but then she asked herself, "Now what? What can I take from this to become a better runner?"

-You're not always going to meet every goal. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't set your goals high. Setting high (but realistic) goals for yourself keeps you challenged.

I really felt like I could relate to her. For me, running just felt...right. What's more natural than putting one foot in front of the other?

And like her, I've had good races and bad races. My surreal race was Chicago -- I crushed my half-marathon PR by 5 min, and my full-marathon PR by 13 min. I remember thinking "Holy $#%@, did that just happen?!" when I crossed the halfway mark, and just being floored when I crossed the finish line and saw 3:11 on my watch. And my bad race? Eugene. I was disappointed that I didn't achieve a goal that I felt was realistic, but looked at my performance to try to find ways that I could improve as a runner.

Once I felt like I could relate to her, I began to think that maybe the elites are a lot like the rest of us.

Career Thoughts
As you may know, I'm finishing up grad school in a month and am hunting for a job. This job hunt has forced me to consider what kind of career I really want. And what I'm realizing is that I want to be involved in coaching in some way. The idea of helping others live healthy lifestyles and become better runners appeals to me. And now that I have a point A and a point B, how do I get from A to B?

Any tips/leads for getting into coaching?


  1. I love this Monday posting idea and might steal it from you. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? :) very cool that you got to meet Kara. She seems like such a cool lady.

    1. Haha, do it -- I'd definitely be flattered. :) And yes, she was super friendly in-person. Of course, I was the weirdo who started off with this story about how when I ran Portland in '09, I tried this Mexican restaurant that she raved about in "Runners World." (Prob a good icebreaker, though I'm sure she was thinking, "How the hell does anyone remember that article from 3.5 years ago??)