“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18:1
While things may not have always gone as planned in 2014, I do believe I have grown from each positive and negative experience this past year. This applies to my personal, running, and professional lives as there have been many reasons to celebrate as well as times where quiet reflection was needed.
As I look forward to 2015, I believe there are many lessons learned that I will apply as I encounter new opportunities or challenges. One is the idea that what I want may require a different approach or greater focus than in recent years.
Getting “Faster” in an Ultra
When it comes to getting faster, I feel like I understand the basics when I reflect on the improvement in my times at the half and full marathon distances over the years. This progression was rooted in a foundation built from speed workouts, tempo runs, and hill drills that I incorporated from my initial start in 2005.
Unfortunately the “marathon training schedule” doesn’t translate to an Ultra-marathon. It seems as though everyone has their own belief, philosophy and approach. Part of the challenge is the inability to evaluate performance since the courses are so different.
This can be seen when you look at the results for an incredible runner like Timmy Olson at two 100 mile races. He won the 2013 Western States in a course record time of 14 hours 46 minutes but finished the 2014 Hardrock in 30 hours 18 minutes (13th place). Despite this difference, both runs were impressive for very different reasons.
Changing Things In 2015
As I look at 2015 where the 100 mile distance is my priority, I believe I need to first focus on some of the basics regardless of the course. Two key areas will be my weight and more hill repeats.
Some may be surprised weight is listed first but let me explain. Although I have lost a great deal of weight since my first marathon in 2005, I weighed 145 pounds when I set my personal best at the NYC marathon 5 years later. It was the lightest I ever weighed and the resulted in a difference of 45 minutes. However, I have generally weighed over 155 at all my Ultra’s and was probably close to 160 at my DNF (Did Not Finish) in October.
I have taken hill repeats for granted with the exception of my training for Leadville 100. In retrospect the work I did for that race paid off as I felt my relative fitness was the strongest due to a focus on hill work. Given my first major race in May, the Cruel Jewel (108 miles) contains 31,000 feet of elevation gain; I better not go in unprepared.
Opportunities For Faith
Over the last couple of years I have thought the longer the race, the more miles I needed. I lost sight that in there are many aspects as to how I can improve my performance depending on what goals I am looking to achieve.
The correlation between what I want or pray for may require something different from what I had initially planned. This lesson applies to all areas of my life and yours.
During a recent class at my church, the following clip from the movie Evan Almighty was played to begin a discussion with the group. As I watched the video, I was struck at the impact the following 3 lines from the video had on me.
(Background: Lauren Graham had prayed at the beginning of the movie that her family would be closer as they moved to a new home. Morgan Freeman playing the role of God tells her the following.)
“If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage does God give him courage or does he give them the opportunity to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings or the opportunities to love each other?”
It’s an important reminder, even if it is a silly movie, that our prayers may not always be answered as we had expected or even when we want them to. However we must have faith in all situations and be open to having God provide us with opportunities or answers we may not have thought we asked for.
As you prepare your physical, mental, and spiritual life for 2015, have an open mind to new opportunities and approaches to the blessings we are presented with each day, hour, and minute. They may involve celebrations or challenges, but have faith to know He is with you through them all.
God Bless and Happy New Year,