Sunday, August 31, 2014

Running with Blueberries

So I have come to realize that running is much like blueberry picking. Does that sound crazy?  It probably is but think about this.  We have four big blueberry trees here on our property.  For the past couple weeks I've been going outside every couple of days to pick the new ripened blueberries.  It's really my favorite time of day.  I usually go out in the late afternoon.   It's very quiet.  I can hear the trees in the wind.  Birds flying overhead, sun warm on my face.  I'm not really sure what made me think of it but as I was moving under the bushes to get another look for ripened berries is dawned on for this 50 mile ultra is like blueberry picking.  Have you ever gone blueberry picking and you look at a branch from the top and you don't see a lot of berries.  Maybe you see one or two berries and you pick them off.  If you stopped there your bucket wouldn't be very full would it?
But if you go around to the other side of the bush or you bend down and look up you see ripen berries that you never saw before.  It's all about perspective, taking a second look.  That's really what this whole process of training for this ultra marathon is like for me.  I've had to take a second look at many different aspects of myself.  I've had to bend, reassess and be honest about what I am doing and not doing consistently.  My perspective on the larger goal is shaping and changing.  But instead of the training bending to meet my needs I must bend and form to meet it.  I cannot just look at it head on,  I must wait, be patient and look at the bigger picture.  Much like blueberry picking if you pick a berry too early it will be tart.  But if you wait a day or two it will ripen into a sweet treat.  Training is a delicate balance of working hard and waiting.  Each facet of the plan is important to the next.  Getting in your runs, strength training, eating properly, stretching and rest are all essential to the next part of the plan.
What I have found is that I am not working each part of the plan.  One facet being my nutrition. As a dietitian I eat fairly well. You can see many of my clean eating food posts on IG. But I'm not consistent when it comes to getting my protein after workouts or making sure I'm properly fueled or hydrated. As my mileage is creeping up the demands on my body are that much greater.  I have to really think about eating as part of the training plan.

Another perspective is warming up and stretching. I've never been good at that. I think I'm just so busy sometimes that I don't take the time. But it's not optional anymore.  My muscles need to be warmed up prior to heading out. They need to be stretched and rolled on the foam roller daily.  I need to take care of them, so they take care of me.

I have also had to mentally change my expectations of my physical capabilities. I cannot look at my garmin watch and look at my time.  If I am honest it's crap.  My legs are so tired all the time from running, cross training that I can't keep a fast pace, it's defeating.  I'm actually happy if my over all time comes out in the 10min/mi range.  That's a huge mental change from someone who's always been obsessed with catching the BQ.  But I'm having to bend my expectations.  I have to take a different look to what the ultimate goal is.

So the next time you go blueberry picking. Take a moment to think about how taking a second look at something; whether is training for a race, an issue at work, a relationship.  How can you come at it from a different angle?  What things are you doing or not doing to help the situation?  For me I have to work on my nutrition, taking better care of my body and be kind to myself.  I have to let go of time expectations during my runs, knowing it's part of a larger goal....50 Mile Ultra Nov 8th!

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