With every pursuit, I would say I’m invested in the long-term. Year by year, I’m a fan of watching people come to new realizations that shape their own outlook on life. My outlook with running is no exception. What began as an outlet to work off extra energy from my musical pursuits made me a decent runner. It also led me to experience a different culture. Yes, I still experience what the NYC running culture offers, but nothing quite compares to the time when I ran in Kenya. I learned so much in those two weeks. By the time I returned, I became a stronger runner.
Although we never quite arrive in life, it is the long-term pursuit that makes us grow. As pastor A.R Bernard says, “We live life on levels. We arrive in stages.” I grew in my training this year. Minus my last two marathons, I’ve run consistent times with my current fitness. No personal bests, but I placed well and even earned some awards along the way. This is all ok. Overall, I am happy. However, in order to make the big improvement I want with my race times, I need to take a year to train in an intelligent way.
In 2019, I want to work on shorter distances in lieu of tackling a marathon. The strength, speed and endurance is there, but I want to take time and develop my aerobic system further. I want to focus on the 5k and 10k. I will most likely run 1 to 2 half marathons, too. These distances are perfect in terms of length for me right now. It will also lead to better marathon performances down the road. I chose this route because honestly, I needed a break both physically and mentally from marathon training. I also missed how I felt in 2017 after training in Kenya. Fortunately, I’m returning again this December. Not only did I miss the benefits of training in that environment, but I also missed running with the fastest and most humble runners in the world.
Major improvements don’t occur overnight. They may even zigzag. I liken it to my finances. When checking accounts seem low, I often have to remind myself that a decent amount of money goes towards saving for the future. It takes a great deal of discipline to save money. It’s a lot like the discipline it takes to train and stay healthy each day. At times it seems that the hard work will never come to fruition, but usually the big breakthrough is just around the corner. Sometimes though, we have to focus our attention elsewhere to lead us back to our original path.
This happened with my music. Focusing on raising my one-year-old son this year led me to have a deeper understanding of what I practiced ten years ago. Before I moved to New York, I spent countless hours working out harmonic ideas. I just couldn’t seem to execute what I practiced in an improvisational setting. Admittedly impatient, I wanted to have that modern “New York jazz sound” before moving to New York. It wasn’t the only side to my personality, though. I realized that I needed to be in the moment and play what I felt with no boundaries in genre. After all, forcing ideas is counter-intuitive to improvisation. Even worse, you end up not listening to the room and the band. Marathoning is not the only side to my running. Why not work on a great 5k road time? It all comes back to my main goal: aerobic conditioning.
I have retained my skills as a guitarist, but I do struggle to find time to practice these days. The music is still very alive in our house, though. I notice that I hear music better now because I’m not as rigid about my practice regimen. I have a better understanding of space and hear chords much clearer than before. Further, it’s not how many notes you play, but how and what you play. In running, it’s not necessarily about the workouts, but more about the execution on race day. I have not lost any of my skills as a guitarist by practicing less. Further, I’m sure my running will not suffer by doing less. More marathons will come later in my life. Now is the time for me to refocus on something different so that I can run a great marathon, when I’m ready.