I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to help with Nashville Running Company’s summer trail training program that starts July 12. Saturday during my first long-ish run since Stage Race, I was trying to think of what I could bring to the table as a “coach”. Hunter and Phil are both trail veterans and have tons of knowledge to impart on everyone. What could I, as a relative trail newbie, have to offer that would make it worth the participants’ while? I thought about this for a bit, and then my mind began to wander. I thought how the best cure for depression, aside from running, would be to lie down and just let 20 puppies climb all over you. I repeated the same one line of a song over and over again (I’ll neither confirm nor deny that it was a ‘NSYNC song) (It was). As any runner knows, the stream of consciousness during a run can range from the absolute absurd to the mundane to the completely brilliant you wish there were someone around to hear your earth shattering theory.
Eventually, however, my mind wandered to the yoga class that I’ve been taking while recovering from Stage Race. At the beginning of each class, the instructor suggests focusing in on an intention for your practice. She tells us that an intention can be anything you want it to be, anything you want to get out of the next 60-75 minutes of class. Naturally, my intention is to use yoga to recover and to become a stronger runner, which includes using the focus on my “intention” to help with stay calm and overcome hardships that will inevitably arise during runs. It wasn’t until my run Saturday that I realized I had been running with intention for sometime (self high-five). For Stage Race (I promise, I’ll quit talking about Stage Race soon enough), I had 3 goals. These were (1) an attainable goal, (2) a dream goal, and (3) a pipe dream goal. These were my intentions. I thought about these 3 goals every single time I went out on run and many times in between. As a part of my training plan, there were runs during which I was to keep up a certain pace. These runs always seemed to be the hardest for me. Often, the only thing that kept me going during these runs was repeating my pipe dream goal over and over and over. Another part of my training were blue loop repeats at Edwin Warner Park. At one point, my plan called for 6 of these loops. Without focusing on my intention, I think I would have only made it past 4 of these monsters.
As with yoga, I think it’s important to run with intention, particularly during training. The great part about your intention is that it’s all yours. Whether you choose to tell someone your intention is completely up to you. Just like stream of consciousness, your intention can range from absurd, to the mundane, to what you perceive as a completely unattainable goal. In order to get the most out of training, it’s important to find out what matters to you, what you really want to hone in on, what is going to drive you to get out there in the heat, the snow, the rain or when your legs feel like 80 lbs of lead. It could be you want to be killer on downhills. Or you want to be the best on technical trails. Or you want to PR. Or you want to win/podium. Or you just want to have an amazing time surrounded by like-minded people.
As much as these intentions helped me, they were completely mine. I didn’t tell anyone my goals/intentions, not even Hunter (he guessed, correctly, what pipe dream goal was when I happened to mention it to him though). Your intention is yours. So that’s what I’d say to those in the trail group– find the right goal. Use it. Rely on it. Trust it to help you through the hard days. Celebrate it when you attain it. Don’t give up on it if you don’t. Make every run intentional. Now, I intend to figure out something else to impart on the trail training group in case all of the (two) people who read this blog join the training program.