Last Sunday I ran with the normal crew leaving from City Beach at 6am aiming for a relaxed 21k. There’s a couple of lessons I learnt from this run. Firstly , yet again, I ran with Mark Lee and this was always destined for failure if you put the words ‘easy run’ and Mark Lee in the same sentence, actually in the same chapter. As I said on many occasions Mark Lee cannot do ‘easy’, specifically… http://www.runbkrun.com/2016/12/29/mark-lee-cant-run-slow/ and http://www.runbkrun.com/2017/02/05/beware-the-mark-lee-effect/ Well surprise surprise Sunday yet again started easy for the first kilometre and then young Mr. Lee got to the front and it was all over bar the shouting. Adding to the pace was Jeffrey who had decided to wear his Nike LunaRacers for some reason (a racing shoe of the highest calibre) and he shadowed us for the first 15k of the run before exploding into a 5k sprint finish. Mark and Zac caught him with a few hundred metres to go after he ran himself into the ground. (as all good friends would on such an occasion, bless ’em!) I gave up with a kilometre to go and stopped for a shower, jumping the queue ahead of 3 dogs waiting for their apres-beach wash down. So this was lesson number one and truth be told to be expected. In Mark’s defence he is a ‘sprinter’ and really a 5k -10k specialist, anything longer and he has issues with his internal plumbing shall we say. The first time I met Mark was the Darlington half marathon where on the return journey he would disappear off into the bush ahead of us , return behind us, sprint past and repeat the whole process at least three times, he still beat me easily. Anyhow this post is not about Mark and his famous (or is that infamous) toilet stops.
At the start of the run we bumped into the ex-WAMC (West Australian Marathon Club) President (http://www.wamc.org.au ) and very talented runner that is Evan Kolbe. He was killing time before meeting his running group and ran with us for 4k as a warm up. As it was the start of the ‘easy’ run and Mark was just warming up we had time to chat and the discussion came around to motivation. Evan commented that his motivation for running , at a high level he once achieved, had disappeared many years ago and currently he was more interested in how he was going to glaze his ham for the forthcoming Christmas dinner. We joked that he would have preferred to eat the ham before the run or even better forego the run completely and just eat. I have spoken to Evan on a number of occasions about his running goals for the foreseeable future and he has always maintained he was now too interested in eating to worry about returning to his previous glory days and Evan had glory days in his past. He is fond of mentioning whenever he commentates at the Fremantle half marathon that he won the event once and his times , when he was in his prime, are very impressive indeed.
So what changed ? I suppose with all elites there is the constant pressure to maintain weight and training schedule to move forward and reach your ever increasing goals. Eventually the amount of time and effort required just becomes too much and athletes start to miss the odd session, put on the odd pound before throwing in the towel, so to speak , and moving back to the pack or at least closer to it. It’s a natural progression brought about by age in the long term but in the short term it can come down to just ‘getting a life‘ or maybe ‘getting on with life‘. I have said many times running is an honest sport and if you put in the time and effort you will be rewarded but the flip-side is it is a demanding mistress and you will be found out very quickly if you start to ‘slack off’. It is a two edged sword. Evan had had his time at the front of the field and after a certain amount of years had decided it was time to drift back to the pack and start to think about glazed ham and a multitude of other fine foods he had been denying himself for so long. He certainly didn’t let himself go and even as recently as last year ran a 75minutes half marathon with a sub 2hr 40minute marathon in his sights but the Evan of old would have been a lot quicker.
The topic of motivation came back to haunt me on boxing day as I had given myself the day off after last years double run disaster on Christmas day, ( http://www.runbkrun.com/2016/12/26/seb-coe-is-a-better-man-than-me/ ) so on Boxing Day I was determined to make up for it. I pontificated until midday when I told the family I was off for a long run and not expect me for a couple of hours. Off I toddled to the Yaberoo trail , a 29k trail route with some serious hills and challenging terrain, no water or shade. Remember this is Perth in summer so it was around 32 degrees when I set off. I had taken two water bottles but exhausted these at halfway, not a good idea as I’m sure the way back was hillier , it was certainly hotter ! Anyhow I managed to get to the finish after an extra long stop in an underpass where I attempted to lay on the shaded concrete to cool down. Needless to say I was shattered by the time I drove home and found it difficult to move as all the lateral movement of trail running had played havoc with my groin, so it was a double dose of Voltaren to enable me to take the dogs for a walk in the early evening.
The next day I set off for my morning run and was totally ‘goosed’ , returning 10k later with an average of 5:15min/k and questioning my reason for running generally. This was repeated in the afternoon and I went to bed that night feeling very sorry for myself. Thursday is the normal Yelo pain train 14k progressive run (with our friend Mark Lee !) I was not expecting this to end at all well but set off with the lead group for the first 4-5k before being dropped and left to run by myself. Funnily enough I managed to put together a semi-decent 14k progressive time and felt generally better than when I started. (note: I even beat Mark Lee back to Yelo for reasons already explained at the start of this post. The amount of time Mark spends in the Rendezvous Hotel foyer toilet he should pay rent ! ) This was then repeated in the evening when I ran a reasonable 10k and finished strong. Friday morning was more of the same and as I type this post I’m excited about running some 5k pain trains tomorrow before a long run Sunday.
So the point of this post, and yes there is a point to this post, is motivation may elude you for days, weeks or even years but if you really love your running it will return. For me is was a blip in the middle of the week but for Evan it has been a tad longer. One day though I am confident Evan will wake up one morning and walk past his glazed ham without a second glance before putting on his trainers and deciding the best years are ahead of him and all he has to do is run that little bit further and faster and put a lock on the fridge. I look forward to following him home in a marathon soon but for now I look forward to his ham sandwiches at the New Years Eve WAMC run in a few days.
On my obligatory Sunday morning long run today my mind drifted to the years highs…