You set little goals for yourself, and any of us that were at that level in the old days still have it in our minds. We’re competitive. We set little goals and we achieve those and we want to set higher goals. It sneaks up on you. The bug is still there. — John Trautmann
3.15 + 6.41 miles
Last week, I read an article about John Trautmann, a 46 year old runner, who, on February 14th, ran a 4:12 mile and broke the master’s world record for the indoor mile. Trautmann was an elite runner in his college days and even had a shot at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, but was derailed by foot injury and left the running scene. Fast forward to 2009, where Trautmann was now 40 years old, long removed from running, exercise, and anything healthy. According to the article, he was tipping the scales at 210, 72 pounds over is old racing weight. He started running again; he linked up with his old coach; he fixed his diet. He started working towards regaining his speed.
Lately I’ve been getting the itch to sign up for a race. There are two upcoming races in March, the St. Patrick’s Day 10K and a 5 mile trail run. There is a half marathon in May. I feel the pull to sign up. I love racing. I love every part of it from the getting up early to the pre-race jitters to the pounding miles to the relief at the finish line. There is excitement and anticipation that makes the day special. And there is the opportunity to be tested and tried against other runners and yourself. An official course with official timing amidst other competitors offers a level of anxiety and excitement that simply can’t be reproduced during a regular run.
And that’s just the thing, up until this point, I’ve just been running. There has been no training. No hill workouts, no speed work, no fartleks, nothing. Just running. And I love running, but training adds purpose. I like working towards a goal. I’ve been holding back because I’m coming off a long stretch of little to no running and an injury. I want to be careful. It isn’t that I can’t run a 10K. It’s that I can’t race a 10K. I don’t have the foundation to train for that distance.
This week I struggled with running and my pictures. On Thursday, I was trying to fit in a run and I was rushed. It was freezing cold and windy, which makes me want to keep my head down. I got 3.15 miles in, but it wasn’t pleasant and all I had to show for it was a lackluster Chinook picture (below). In my defense, I had to sprint across the field in order to get into position to take it and my hands were shaky. Even so, 3 miles should not be so difficult.
Then yesterday I ran 6.41 miles which is greater than a 10K, but it was disjointed. I ran 1.6 before stopping for a bathroom break, then 2 more before turning around, then got home at 5.36 and ran the extra 1.05 miles with the dog. It was all the same run, but nothing compared to a race. And I’ve been taking pictures which are resting times also. So when I do an honest evaluation, I know I’m not even close to being race ready.
The first thing Trautmann had to do was lose the weight. His 2009 heavy frame couldn’t handle the rigors of running. So he started out with a lighter regiment, jogging 2-3 times a week and then doing intense gym workouts on the side. Once he got to 170s, he started feeling like a runner again.
“I set little goals that I could achieve. As I achieved each goal, I set the bar a little bit higher,” he says. “Then I started running some local road races with the New York Road Runners Club and it kind of just progressed from there. Every time I achieved one goal, I just set another one a little bit higher.”
My 2015 schedule doesn’t have me racing until April or May. I think that’s smart. I’d like to finish out February with my regular runs and then in March I’d like to start incorporating some speed work and maybe a track workout. My return to the racing scene won’t be grand at first, but at least I won’t be on my way to an injury. Right now, not racing in March sounds like the boring, safe option. It is. Racing and training is much more fun. I try to remind myself that I want to run the rest of my life, not just right now.
Not every run is a victory and not every picture is for the portfolio. I’m just taking it all in stride and assessing what areas I need to work on. The important thing is to keep trying, keep moving forward, keep taking pictures. One day I would love to beat my PRs and one day I would love to sell a few pictures. It’s the sort of thing that doesn’t happen overnight, but, little by little, it comes together. I don’t have weight to lose like Trautmann did, but I have muscles that need to be regrown and restrengthened.
In Trautmann’s case, it took almost six years of hard work.
“I don’t think you ever start out with that desire,” Trautmann says. “But you set little goals for yourself, and any of us that were at that level in the old days still have it in our minds. We’re competitive. We set little goals and we achieve those and we want to set higher goals. It sneaks up on you. The bug is still there.”
He’s so right! The bug is still there. I’m so competitive, it’s almost a character flaw, but I think Trautmann’s approach is right. Little goals are key. For me, this means no racing yet. I have to stay grounded. First little goal was to start running again. Second little goal was to start this blog. Third little goal was to take a couple of decent pictures. Next little goal: find a track where I can start doing sprints in March. Baby steps.
Read the full article about John Trautmann here.