I’ve always had a soft spot for people with regrets. I feel like we as humans have a self-protecting tendency to assert that we have no regrets, having happened into a place where we would not be without error. From my experience, I’m not better off having made some of the mistakes I’ve made. It’s also possible to appreciate something like a bee sting from a distance. Not unlike a wicked hangover, I, too, am full of regret. Here are my top running regrets, intervals I didn’t need to spike up for, foreseeable oversights, etc.
1. Half-assing the steeple
I really stuck the landing on a steeple pit during my freshman steeplechase debut and ended up fracturing my heel from the impact. This in turn made me terrified of the steeplechase, but I decided to give it another shot my senior year. Instead of fully committing to becoming a steeplechaser, I tried to ward off injury by neglecting technique, hurdles, etc. My sheer terror transferred over to racing as well, where I ran like I was afraid of the steeplechase. In doing so, I forfeited several solid opportunities, both in the steeplechase and the 1500m. Most things worth doing are worth full-assing, so to speak.
2. Overly identifying with the mid-d crew
This is something I am struggling with now. Throughout college I performed markedly better in track than in cross country. This brought the conclusion that I was strictly a middle-distance runner. While I thought this was something that served me, its something I’m fighting now, as I explore longer races. I’m constantly coming up against my own justification that my abilities are extremely specific, and this is far from helpful.
3. Pushing through injury
This is something I come up against all the time, and while I cannot claim success here, I think I can claim progress. There are so many instances where forcing a workout, pushing through a long run, and hoping something will “loosen up” have not served me. I have yet to regret a single off day, cross training day, or modification where I went easier than prescribed. It is so frequently the best choice to give a new injury a couple days of caution than to train through it and hope it goes away. The former has preserved a few seasons, while the latter has resulted in multiple weeks on crutches. Modification is almost always a good idea.
4. Barreling through illness
This lesson has not come to me through osmosis, but rather by making myself incredibly sick for an entire month. The short-term satisfaction of sticking to the plan seldom comes without cost. The optimal situation here is to take a few days easy or off, actually recover from the sickness, then resume training. The less-than-optimal scenario involves full training, lots of DayQuil, eventual modification and poor recovery.
5. Not going all-out in races
I have seldom disappointed myself more than when I’ve finished a race with energy left to spare. Conversely, poor races are far less disappointing when I can confidently say that I’ve given everything I had. This phenomenon seems magnified when I’ve traveled to a race, etc. Take it from me – always give it everything; the evening after racing will be infinitely more pleasant, regardless of outcome.