Epic versus ordinary is the difference between the elation of drugs and happiness. One is fleeting and temporary, an unquenched thirst, a high from which you must come down only to seek more in a vain bid to end the disquiet. The latter is inexplicable, impossible to recreate, an instant captured forever not as a memory but as a feeling. – Human Cyclist
Did you manage to read that long winded quote without your mind wandering off? That’s ok, go back and try again. This time focus. I’ll wait here…
Insightful, isn’t it? This dichotomy is the essence of training for many of us. The epic events vs. the ordinary training days. We live for the first, but spend most of our days on the latter. I would argue that the ordinary days are the ones that shape us the most as runners and athletes.
If you’ve wondered how I’ve been spending the last 6 months since my previous post, it’s been on ordinary runs. Base training miles and nothing more. No speed work, barely a jog outside. Just mile after mile on the treadmill, slogging away at a 9:30 pace. Certainly not anything worth blogging about, but necessary nonetheless.
Last year, I had an epic event (France Camp), followed by an epic fail (Richmond Marathon no-show), followed by a lot of self-reflection. How did I train so much in 2015 just to flop out on a race that should have been a no-brainer? Easy. I lived only for the epic, and forgot the ordinary.
In order to chase the epic and cycle the mountains of France, I chose to ignore my running for the early part of 2015. Post camp, I panicked at my lost identity as a runner, and vowed to recapture it (in my mind) with a glorious marathon finish only 4 months later. It was to be my next epic accomplishment.
How foolish I was to think that because I had been a runner in the past, that I was somehow entitled to success in the present. How humbling the sport of running can be.
Since then, I have realized that if I ignore the ordinary training runs, I am denying myself the true joy of running: the day to day commitment and struggle. Now, some 5oo base miles later, I am starting to feel my running legs come back to me.
Last week, I allowed myself a taste of the epic, by registering for the Portland Marathon. Until then, I’ll continue my ordinary running, armed with a new humility and perspective on training.