"The fight is only fifteen minutes, but the process is months, years. If it was just about the fight I'd have a miserable life." -- MMA fighter Greg Jackson, in The Fighter's Mind
A couple of weeks ago I read a book about MMA fighters and their mental preparation for their fights. It's a pretty good book -- though nothing in it is really new -- and it got me somewhat more focused on my running. There were lots of good chapters (the book went chapter-to-chapter with different athletes, a collection of stories more than having an over-arching theme), and I learned a good deal about MMA (which is something I've never watched or read about). The big takeaways from the book though were little bursts of insight, little snippets like the one above -- because they're directly applicable to what we do as runners.
We spend the vast majority of our time training (example: I have run 89 hours this year, and only 2 of them have been spent racing).
I've been thinking about the book a bit the past few days, after seeing dances.on.rocks' comment in this week's mileage roundup:
Sunday’s run made me think of the notion of a “validation run”. Most of us put together a plan that culminates in a race. The problem with using race day as validation for the months of training is that so many things can go awry on any single race day. With longer races (marathon and above), the variability is even higher. This is one of the reasons you see elite runners drop quite often during ultra races. If it isn’t working that day, they pack it in and live to race another day.
Racing is what we aim for, and what we train for -- but it's not the only thing we do. Without training runs (and good training runs, really) we'd end up only really counting our runs a few times a year -- and in doing that we'd end up putting a lot of undue pressure on ourselves. In the past few weeks I've been able to enjoy my training runs as much as I can, and that's made things far more enjoyable. Without enjoyable training runs (and validation runs), I'd have a miserable running life.