Though running remains on my back burner for now I have been energized over the last few weeks by my "running remodel." If my running were a house I would be standing in it with a sledgehammer, tearing it down to stud in anticipation of rebuilding it from the foundation up. I have enjoyed plenty of success in my ten years as a runner but it is also clear that I have left a good deal of my potential untapped as I have trained through nagging aches and pain and imbalances. With life upended by COVID this is just one facet of my goal to use this interruption to my benefit as best as possible.
I have a hefty stack of books to review in the coming weeks (I've read them all before so this is just a review; I won't be stuck reading in a cave for the foreseeable future) and I am looking forward to addressing blind spots and weaknesses that have held me back in recent years.
I remain jealous that Matt Fitzgerald was able to live one of my dreams and train as a mid-packer with the NAZ Elite running group under Ben Rosario. In this interview on the Race Mob Podcast Fitzgerald discusses the experience and shares several insights into what mid-pack runners can learn from how the professionals train. Be sure to keep an ear out for his breakdown of the different pieces of the pie, as he describes it, that contributed to his improvement as well as how a very different approach to handling what he thought was a cycle-ending injury saved his training and his fitness.
Many runners are still enjoying the daily grind. Amidst a pandemic with a highly contagious virus, there are some considerations one should account for given that hard training can grind down the body and immune system. In this article Amby Burfoot shares advice from a leading immunology expert on how to train safely in order to minimize the chances of pushing your body and immune system too hard, leaving it susceptible to COVID. Key takeaways include keeping most runs below your hard effort, prioritizing recovery, and eating a balanced diet to ensure that the body is getting the macro- and micronutrients it needs.
Scroll down the page to find Episode Six of this podcast for an excellent conversation between Foudy and US skier Mikaela Shiffrin. This is an episode roughly 15 months old but I find that I revisit it once every six months or so and upon a recent re-listening I was again blown away by the wisdom Shiffrin exhibits about competing at the highest levels and what those insights mean for anyone looking to excel at their craft, running or otherwise. Certainly Shiffrin's success is based on her otherworldly talent, but her mental approach to competing and training reveals a roadmap accessible to competitors of all levels. She reveals a deep love of putting in the work to train. As a race-centric runner this is a practice I continue to work on. I love to run, I love the daily grind of running, however I am not consistent with the extra work it takes to get the most out of the training I do and could stand to learn to love that work more. She also shares her ideas on fear, believing it to be a healthy thing, something that shows that one cares deeply about whatever they are pursuing. Lastly, I love her concept of mindfulness, something that is not necessarily so much about staying in the present moment as it is recognizing that the present moment is all that can be controlled.
A fascinating read on the psychological tools one can use to best maneuver through ever-shifting terrain. As the article explains, psychological flexibility is about making decisions, not based in the emotion of the moment, but on a longer view consistent with one's deeply held values. The flexibility is necessary to change course if the actions of a given moment are inadequate to solving its problems (something we are seeing play out in real time with both COVID and racial inequality). Psychological flexibility will mean stepping into moments that are deeply uncomfortable but which lead to growth as the emotions of the moment are embraced and experienced, rather than avoided. Several examples of how people have utilized this approach are given and then six main pillars the approach is based on then explained as a way of showing people how the practice can be developed.
NPR's Code Switch examines the underrepresentation of minorities within the running community. Such underrepresentation, the show argues, shapes the discussion about who is and who is not a runner which has then creates the spaces that leave runners like Ahmaud Arbery susceptible to violence.
Not running-related, but until an effective vaccine for COVID is found and distributed, the in-person racing that many of us love will remain impossible. In this podcast episode from July 13, Andy Slavitt, the former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, interviews two vaccine experts, Drs. Mark McClellan and David Argus, about the current progress on COVID vaccines. They discuss various vaccine terminology, how we will know the vaccines are safe, and what sort of "normalcy" will return once one is administered. There is plenty of hopeful news in this episode but with the caveat that there is still much that needs to be studied, understood, and managed over the course of the rest of the year.
This Week's Quote
"Whenever you have trouble getting up in the morning, remind yourself that you've been made by nature for the purpose of working with others, whereas even unthinking animals share sleeping. And it's our own natural purpose that is more fitting and more satisfying."
A Small Request
This newsletter is a labor of love and I would write it even if no one read it (as it is few people right now do). I do not write because I have all the answers but rather because the topics interest me and because writing about them allows me to further explore them, internally debate them, and work through them. I share these links because reading them and thinking about them helps me to be better in my running, in my coaching, in my relationships, and in life. If you read this newsletter and think it would benefit someone you know, I ask that you take the time to share it with them. If you have a question for me or a comment on how I can be better in this space, please take the time to reach out. Thanks.
To read more about Adam's running and about performance you can visit his website at www.impactrunning.wordpress.com.