Running tip #82 … try something new!
I’ve already mentioned the need for a passionate hobby outside of running … but inside of running you should also keep it fresh by challenging yourself to try something new. If you always race 5k’s as a soloist on the road, sign up for a longer trail race with a friend; if the marathon’s your thing, consider dropping your mileage and upping your speed-work to train for a mile on the track (many communities, like the Godiva Track Club, have a summer track series); if you only participate in local events, try booking a flight to enjoy a destination race in some beautiful place you’ve always wanted to visit. Trail Runner magazine often tempts me with trail-race porn when they publish their Destination Trail race bucket lists.
There are so many options available to keep you from feeling like a rat on a wheel. “There’s a million things to do, you know that there are.” (Cat Stevens)
Poke around on the internet to see for yourself. Then, take the plunge and sign up!
Back in 1998, I trained for the first-ever women’s 3k steeplechase at US nationals to try something new. I’d already made my Olympic team (after trying 4 times over 16 years, mind you!) so, as they say – or, rather, as my friend Bernie says – I had nothing left to prove as a runner. Bernie also believes, “It’s not about who wins or loses, it’s about who scores at the big social afterward.”
Back to the steeple. My decision to take a break from “flat races” and hurl myself into the equestrian world of water jumps and barriers thick as balance beams, was invigorating and life-giving at a time when my running was sort of on its death bed. I ended up falling face first into the water jump at nationals around lap 3 … but at least I have a story to tell! Remember Ruth Gordon from Harold and Maude when she philosophizes?
“A lot of people enjoy being dead, but they’re not dead, really. They’re just backing away from life. Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt, even. But play as well as you can. Go, team, go! Gimme an “l,” gimme an “i,” gimme a “v,” gimme an “e.” l -i-v-e Live! Otherwise you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.”