Friday, December 18, 2015

Lessons from a Year of Running: Resisting FOMO, redefining FKT's

A few of my 2015 races kind of got away from me. In hindsight I would say I probably did too many of them too close together or at least my expectations were too high in too many of them. Looking back on my year in running, I had the most fun while just relaxing and being out for fun or to catch up with friends. Exploratory runs in the back country while trying to bag a peak or explore a new to me area rank equally high. There were occasions in the past where just relaxing and having low expectations actually produced excellent race results, but for some reason I was not able to reproduce that this year. I am mixing up two things here though. Running is fun or at least it should be and for me personally it is - most of the time. Setting goals and working towards accomplishing them can also be fun. Mostly because it is satisfying to achieve a goal that seemed out of reach and inch ever closer to ones' full potential as a runner. There are other times though when training can seem like a chore, even though running is still fun if that makes sense. I guess the idea is to make training feel like play time and have the results take care of themselves.

Racing = Kinda fun ... sometimes (Photo credit: Elaine Fung)

I think part of why I was trying to do too much in the past was the fear of missing out or FOMO and the fact that racing is being hyped and talked about a lot. "What races are you planning to do next year?" "Who's going to run -enter name of event here- next year?" or other questions are very frequent and can lead even the most even-keeled runner to feel like they should get on board and commit to more events.

 I had a couple of ankle sprains this year and as of late I also had to take some time away from running due to injury. Having said that, when I get out on the trails lately, I am having the best time ever. I am really enjoying each and every outing immensely. I have no immediate goals, I am signed up for zero races and I hardly ever wear a watch let alone a GPS these days. I just go out to play and have fun with or without company. I can not remember a time when I enjoyed myself more while running and  that's saying a lot.

It is the season for race registrations and goal setting again though and I have spent a good deal of time mapping out events that I am interested in for 2016 and beyond. A few of those races have opened their registration already. I am just not ready to jeopardize my carefree adventures in the forest by committing to a race.

Exploring: Usually lots of fun (Photo credit: Carlie Smith)

I will judge my year 2016 in running by how many smiles it brings to my face rather than by how many finish lines I cross. I will let the results come to me or not. I will have some great adventures and miss out on others without fretting. I am also going to borrow a term from my friend Andy and aim for setting as many Funnest Known Times (rather than Fastest Known Times) on the adventures I embark on as possible. I will race and I will have goals again soon. I just don't want them to own me along with my training and my mindset. I'm gonna own them this time. I will resist the urge to run a new longer distance this year, because if I am being honest with myself, I don't want to. Sometimes I am simply feeling like I should do certain things since it is a natural progression for many ultra runners. What it all comes down to is really that I will do what I want (which includes finding balance between adventures and family life) and not get sucked into things that I think I should be doing. It sounds shockingly simple, but at least for me, oftentimes it isn't.

Have fun. Run free.