Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Slow and Steady

Sometimes it is easy for me to forget that I am not even 4 years into my running career. I put pressure on myself to have it all figured out, to be running every workout with discipline and focus, to be vigilantly strength training, stretching and nutritionally perfect. And then when I fail or am not where I want to be, I am frustrated. Which is ridiculous! I have plans to run for many many years and I have many trail/ultra examples of women who are kicking butt and 20 years my senior. I mean Ultrarunner of the Year Kami Semick has nearly 20 years on me and she would smoke me everytime! I look forward to many many years of good healthy fast running. So why am I so anal retentive about being there now? Why, as a person you has notoriously good patience, am I so impatient with myself? Why am I so hard on myself?

With Boston looming, I have alot of feelings of uncertainty. After getting hurt back in February, my confidence went down the tubes. Subsequently, due to a busy travel/work schedule some of the plans I had made went down the tubes with my confidence. I wanted to be running-centric in my life and instead, I managed to end up two weeks prior to race day wondering if I am going to even be able not to make a fool of myself or if I can even throw a stone at my goal time. I started off this year feeling good, strong, fast and light. Now I feel poorly, weak, slow and heavy. Not good. I have made some errors along the way, not had time for things I wanted to incorporate (mainly a consistent strength routine, plyos, etc). My biggest error has been along the way in my nutrition. Fast Foodie failing at nutrition? Say it ain't so! Well, I eat all the right things. Just not enough. Part of not eating enough is that I have a good deal of digestive issues that I have been trying to sort out for about 2 years. I have added and subtracted foods from my diet, tried this that and the other thing and mostly resigned myself to feeling like crap. I never have an appetite which I find strange as a runner. No appetite means it is easy for me to not get enough calories in because my hunger is not there to remind me. I make sure I get alot of calories at meals, but I know based on how I feel and my blood work, that I am just not getting it right. My doctor at Seattle Performance Medicine recommended I go see Sally Hara at ProActive Nutrition. We talked for about an hour and a half and while she didn't tell me anything profound, it is helpful to have an outside perspective. If I really want to do this running thing right, I need people and I need to relinquish control and let my people do what they do best. I need to listen and execute what they tell me. I need to follow the plan and treat it like I treat my training schedule.

I was reading an article about Kara Goucher and it was listing all her "people" and I was thinking, I need my people! After talking to the nutritionist, I realized that I need to more fully allow others to do things for me. I need to have more trust, I need to let myself be supported. I have great people including:
Coach: Howard Nippert
Nutritionist: Sally Hara
Strength: CrossFit Northwest
Massage: Leah Jurek, Alison Hanks and Oni Roberts
ART: Essential Chiropractic and Wellness
Performance Doctor: Dr. Cooper at Seattle Performance Medicine

While I am in taper now for Boston, I am thinking ahead already to how I will improve my routine and running after. I think what it comes down to is not the running itself (though there are minor adjusts and focus I can do therein) it is about being better about the other stuff. I look forward to coming back and getting into a good strength routine, good core routine, good stretching and flexibility, nutrition, massage. Everything ultimately IS essential in order to keep me running strong for a long time and to continue my improvement. Sigh, it is easy to want to kick myself in the head for not having it figured out NOW, for not doing it perfectly, but I just remember that I am still barely even more than a rookie and that I will blissfully continue to grow and learn and develop in time. I am learning to let go and let be (learning again and again actually), and being patient with myself. I need to listen to one of my favorite quotes:

"Be patient with everyone, but above all, with yourself... Do not be disheartened by your imperfections. How are we to be patient in dealing with our neighbor's fault if we are impatient in dealing with our own?" -Saint Francis de Sales

In alot of ways, realizing my own failings, whether it is nutritionally or in supplementary workouts/support or even in just how I stress myself or my mental state and thought process, makes me excited and invigorated to turn this ship around, to start anew, to have a mini-rebirth. I'll get it one of these days, or maybe I won't, but I look forward to the challenge of trying!


  1. Incredible, Devon!

    Dear, you are not alone in these feelings, frustrations, hopes, fears, drive, etc. What you are going through is exactly what I am going through. I am nowhere near the level of runner you are, and I'm not going to kid myself and say that we are the same. But as far as everything you've talked about with regard to anal retentiveness and impatience and wanting it all NOW... that's me. I think that the wall I've built around myself to keep me from myself is slowly crumbling and that's a good thing. Basically, it's like we are our own worst enemy. It's time to knock that shit off, to listen to our support people, to have faith in them, ourselves, our higher power (or St. Francis de Sales). Stop fighting yourself and embrace what you're all about. I know you'll be working on that and I am excited for you. And knowing that somebody out there is tackling the same "demons" as me is comforting and so helpful. So thank you for posting this! It couldn't have come at a perfect time.

    Whatever Boston brings... may it bring you peace of mind, heart and spirit. I have a feeling it will!

  2. Dont be too hard on yourself. I find I am similiar.

    Your a busy person and its hard to really nail everything. I wish I strength trained more, stretched/body rolled more, slept more, ate perfectly, ran/felt amazing consistently every week. Those things are hard to do unless that is ALL you do.

    Remind yourself that you are human. Its impossible to be perfect.

  3. Maybe you should add sports psychologist to your ensemble. You sound like you are beating yourself up and stressing out. A big part of the game is mental. You've got the talent, now you just have to nurture it and bring out the best in yourself. I agree, you have years, so enjoy the journey!

    Best of luck at Boston, and don't let taper madness undermine your confidence. You'll do great!


  4. Cynthia-
    Funny you should mention that since Kara Goucher was talking about taking her sports psychologist with her to NYC for the marathon. I definitely could benefit from one, though that (like most of my supplemental support stuff, ART, massage, yoga, etc) are just a bit financially beyond me. I guess I am totally just dropping the ball on the supplemental stuff, I just can't afford it and therefore make sound financial decisions. Hopefully I can find a sponsor or two that would be able to help out with that stuff :)

    Thanks for the support guys. I know I need to just enjoy and be patient and give myself some credit. I have accomplished alot in a very short time!

  5. I just read a small book "Life Safari", where it talks life lessons through a winding path across Africa. I liked how you said I need my people". There is a big lesson - ask directions. Do not be afraid, ashamed, alarmed. Ask. First of all, the wheel is not invented today. Secondly, state not only "what" you want but "why" as the path might be different (and easier), and third, people love participating in your life and help you out, because that way they become a part of your success, thus succeed as well. That said, may Boston bring you all that YOU want from it at THIS moment!

  6. Hi Devon -- I really liked this post and can relate to a lot of what you wrote (that is, concerning the doubt and impatience with yourself; I can't, however, relate to not having an appetite and eating too little -- I'm the opposite in that regard!). Maybe you can chalk it up to PMS'ing, by which I mean "pre-marathon" syndrome. It seems to be the nature of road racing more than trail racing that we put pressure on ourselves and hope to attain a time goal, especially at a high-profile event like Boston, more so than when on the trail. In any event, that's what happens to me! I'll be in Boston as well but truly just running it for fun, or "controlled effort," not all out. I'll be cheering for you and maybe see you near the start or finish. take care & good luck -- and try to follow your own good advice.
    - Sarah

  7. I know what you mean about not being able to afford all the help you might want. I'm just happy I can talk my husband into giving me the massages I seem to need these days.

    I did find this post by a sports psychologist that I thought was inspirational. Maybe you'll find it helpful. Just remember you are an inspiration to all of us.

  8. devon,
    my name is denise and i've been following your blog for a bit. i saw the bball movie you were in and i wanted to know what you went on to do and i found you through google. your running career is very impressive. you're an excellent athlete and a big inspiration. way to go on all that you have accomplished.
    i have a question for you...or maybe more of a favor to ask. i'm going to sign up to run a 10k this august here in oregon {the steens mountain run}. i was wondering if you could give me some tips on how to train. i really don't have to kick trash and kill everyone at the race, but i'd love to run the race and feel really good at the end. any advice would be awesome. {}
    a little background: i'm in fairly okay shape…i had a baby about a year ago but i'm back to below my normal weight which is good. i love being active...i've just fallen out of shape. so yes, if you would like to give any advice or training tips...i'd love it. thanks again for being so inspiring.
    denise {oregon}

  9. We can rebirth together! I'm going on to my second rebirth of the for Boston, you will be well rested and will ROCK OUT!!!!


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