A lot of young runners have come to me asking the question, “How do I know if I’m doing enough?” As an athlete, I’ve often asked myself that question. In fact, the first time I began asking myself this question was the same time I began taking running seriously some ten-or-so years ago.
Am I getting enough sleep? Hydrating enough? Doing enough strength exercises? Doing my training runs fast enough? If we aren’t asking ourselves these questions, then we probably aren’t trying our hardest. On the flip-side, if we ask ourselves these questions too often and don’t trust our training, then we can easily lose confidence. It’s a tough battle: confidence vs. questioning. Both are important factors in becoming the best athlete we can be, but when the gun goes off, and the race begins, only one can win.
The answer lies in the experts. Running is certainly a sport that can be self-taught and self-managed. Thousands of people wake up everyday and train for anything from mud-runs to marathons without a coach, therapist, sports psychologist or agent. However, the more time you can focus on just running and the less time worrying if what you’re doing is enough–the better. Confidence comes from controlling the things you can and not worrying about the things you can’t.
My best advice for anyone struggling with this question would be to seek the experts. It’s the certified coaches, doctors, trainers, and therapists’ job to worry about your training, not the athlete. A coach’s job is more than just handing you some splits to hit. It’s their job to push you to your limits, but also hold you back when you try to push too far.
In the last ten years the plethora of knowledge available to anyone with the Internet is amazing. You can read professional runner’s training logs online, watch videos of workouts, YouTube demonstrations of yoga or strength routines, and even Google your injury symptoms in attempt to self diagnose…if you dare! While these resources are great in promoting the sport, they can also become a downfall. The best lesson any runner can learn is faith, both in themselves and their support system.
If a young runner tried mimicking the training they found online of some thirty-year-old professional runner they would probably end up injured, burnt out and no longer competing rather quickly. For that exact reason, I’ve never felt compelled to share extensive details of my training. Every athlete is unique and comparison can be your worst enemy. I used to be that geeky high school runner who would scavenge through High School Runner or Runner’s World magazines thinking if I read all about professional runners I would discover some “secret” to success.
Well, after many years I think I’ve finally figured out the secret: Solidify your support group, trust in your training, don’t be afraid to ask why you do what you do, but most importantly have faith–because faith alone can take you further than you ever imagined.