Sunday, November 2, 2008

Applying the Rules

I don't think I'm off the mark in saying that I think most of us want to feel special. We want to believe we are unique.

And we our own special little ways.

But, we are also human. Therefore, there are certain physical and psychological traits that most of us share. For those of you into statistics, I'm talking about a normal distribution, right? That big group of us that falls under that giant bell curve where 95-99% of us fit comfortably.

This is not a bad place to be. Researchers have and will always do "tests" to find out better ways to do things. Understanding yourself as being "normal" means that you can benefit from the studies that have been done.

If that's the case, why do we think that in order to be "special" or "unique" that we must fall outside the normal distribution and that all those rules and tests that can be applied to humans do not apply to us as individuals.

Case in point....

For many years, I have studied the physical and psychological side of sports. I have helped many people finish their first races, given tips on nutrition, and have pointed out when someone is walking the fine line between pushing themselves and overtraining.

But, I didn't do this for myself.

Afterall, I'm special.

I'm different.

I can train differently than other people do. I can train harder, longer, and ramp up more quickly without worrying about getting injured because I'm special. I'm unique.

That's not true. I'm just a regular person.

There's a word for telling people to do one thing but actually doing something else.

What is it?

Oh yes.

It's called being a hypocrite.

For a very long time, I spoke raves about the benefits of heart rate training, proper nutrition, and setting up a training plan that had significant time dedicated to base training.

That's all good and well.Except that I never followed it myself. I'm quite convinced now that I didn't follow my own advice because what would shine through was the fact that I truly was slow. My ego simply couldn't handle that. Yet at the same time, I wouldn't see significant improvements in my overall speed. For years, I didn't have significant improvements. I told myself that it was because I wasn't training hard enough.

But y'see, I've always been a rebel. You tell me to do one thing. I'll do another.

When I looked back over the studies, had my V02max and max heart rate calculated, determined my zones and then ran using those zones.....I decided that pace was too slow and therefore, the rules do not apply to me. The reality was that I was overtraining, training too hard/too fast, and ignoring all the research that had been done for years.

It became a battle of ego versus research.

The fact of the matter was that the rules did apply to me. I simply chose to ignore them.

I'm writing about this today because yesterday I went running. I follow Maffetone's heart rate training. The run was to not exceed MEP which is roughly equivalent to a zone 2 run.

My area is very hilly. Everytime I run, I have to stop and walk the steep hills because my heart rate goes above the MEP zone. There are times that it has been frustrating. ego. There are times when I just want to say "screw it" and go back to my old way. ego. In the begining, I used to get embarrased because I thought that everyone driving by must think I'm the slowest runner ever. ego. I got over that.

Then, I started noticing that I was getting faster.

Then, yesterday, I noticed that for the first time ever I ran the hills without having my heart rate exceed the MEP zone.

The best part was that I didn't even realize it until I got to the top of the first hill.

I was so excited. I realized that all that time spent running slowly. All that time spent having periods of walking. All those years spent thinking that the rules don't apply to me.....

......and I finally proved to myself that following the rules take patience, perserverance, and the understanding that something bigger lies on the horizon.

Being a rebel is easy.

Following the rules shows your true strength.