Training advice from Apolo Ohno: Keep it moving

Yesterday I was completing a long, productive good day of work when I checked my Twitter feed. Front and center was a Tweet from Apolo Ohno:

Blasting full speed all week. Developed the plan and executing now. Let’s go tweeps – time waits 4 nobody!!! #TeamNoDaysOff

It was a classic Apolo Ohno Tweet. The man is a powerhouse of positivity, at least in his social media persona. So I dared to ask Apolo if he ever had a bad day or a negative thought. Because it sure didn’t seem that way on Twitter. And he hit me back with a response (translated here from Twitter language): “Of course I have negative and bad days. They are the ones that give the best reward. How to deal with challenges and turn them into opportunities.” Our Twitter conversation continued and he offered this last thought:

 It reminds me to keep it moving……..hesitation and stagnation is a killer

Those were some powerful thoughts to play with during my 9-mile run this morning. And appropriate themes for me this week, my biggest training week leading up to my first trail marathon on May 26. My training has been fine, only it’s not quite up to the normal marathon preparation schedule. My overall numbers are off. I don’t have the volume under my belt that I normally would for a marathon, let alone a trail marathon. And sometimes, that opens the door for panic and negative thoughts. The key, I am learning, is not to stop the negative thoughts. It’s what I do once they arrive. There are dozens of ways I can react, but if I turn my attention to creating an opportunity, the negative thought actually becomes a tool. It’s not about “running angry” at least for me. Negative emotions (anger, fear, frustration, etc.)  are rarely a sustaining source of motivation. Instead, I can take the challenge of the bad day as a chance to view myself, my work, my training from a different angle. And a different view can do wonders for that long range perspective.

So as I went out on that 9-mile run, I thought about hesitation and stagnation. Keep moving. That’s all I thought. Just keep moving. As I kept running, I started to think about my goals. My goals. Not what I think I “should” be doing. Not basing my goals off what other people do or think or say. My goals do not look like other people’s. And that’s right on. I’m doing my own thing for my own reasons. My approach to this trail marathon is about strength — physical and mental. It’s about getting out of my comfort zone. It’s about challenging myself. It’s about doing something big and bold and silly and fun. It is not about average pace. It is not about perfection.

As I kept defining what it was I wanted from this training, from this race, a funny thing started to happen. I started running faster. Each mile got just a little faster until I was in the last mile and I just let it rip. Oh, my pace wasn’t anything tremendous, but for the record, I’ve never been very good at negative splits. Now, it seems I’m able to run a bit smarter. I’m able to start at a comfortable pace and bring it on later. That takes some courage and strength. And that is what my goal has been for 2012 — to develop my courage and strength muscles. It helps, every so often, to be reminded that it’s not exactly what you do that matters. Rather, the truly important things are being true to yourself, about moving toward what it is you want and accepting challenges and bad days as opportunities to look at life in a different way.

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