A friend of mine posed a question today on Facebook:
“If you had to choose between looking the way you want but having lower performance in sports events, OR not looking the way you want but having sports performance unaffected which would you prefer and why? (Phoenix from The Spotted Chair)”
Initially, I responded with:
“In all honesty, I’d prefer performance over looks. Of course I would like to look at a certain way, but looks aren’t going to help me finish a 50k or other endurance events. I want to finish, not get a DNF but look good. Do I want to look a certain way? Sure, but at 41 it’s getting harder and harder. So I train for performance now.”
That was six hours ago and it’s been on my mind since then.
As you’ve read, I recently competed in the Winter Death Race (WDR). This was my first DNF (did not finish). I cannot attribute any other reason for that DNF other than I was not as prepared I thought. I wasn’t going into it thinking I was doing it to look good either, because, to be honest, I was not in the best shape either. So there were fails on both fronts considering the question that has been asked.
When I made my response, I meant it. Not that I have time to deal with the looks aspect even if I wanted to.
Each year, since hitting forty, I’ve decided to choose an endurance event that will challenge. Last year was the Winter Death Race. This year, at 41, I have chosen to run in my first 50k. The TARC Summer Classic will certainly take me out of my comfort zone. Until this point, I have been an obstacle racer not a straight out trail runner. While I have covered some distance (The VT Spartan Beast at over 14+ miles), obstacle racing is broken up into sprints. At some events you may have 20-30 obstacles scattered around the track. Your legs get a break, depending on the obstacle, so you running is not affected much.
Training for this will be key. I’ve already started building up a bit of strength as I haven’t done much since WDR. While I would like to get rid of some belly fat, at 41 it’s becoming an ongoing fight and it’s not my top priority. Core strength will be fundamental, the layer of gelatinous gloop covering my abdominal muscles will not matter. Building a strong back to support my spine during that 31 mile run will prove to be pivotal in my success as far as completing the race. Of course, there’s leg day. Building extra muscle now will certainly help in enduring the many miles to come, and the course. I do not know if it will be hilly, rocky, etc. So, building some extra muscle to compensate for the terrain to come is something I am working on. You can see why it’s important to cross-train by reading this article from Runners World.
Come April, the running program will begin. Until now, I have not run more than 10 miles straight. So why do a 50k? Because I can, and will succeed. I’ve never been an everyday runner. I’ve run maybe every other day or so, sometimes more erratic than that. Being authentic about my training is a necessity. I will not succeed without it and I HAVE TO be at it EVERY DAY.
When race day comes on August 15th, what do you think is going to help me out? Bulging muscles and washboard abs? Or, what I was writing above. Yeah, I thought so too!