I was thinking about this because a blogging friend of mine - yours too, probably - Emz recently lost a "follower", because, in the words of her follower Emz had initially seemed to be a "serious runner" but on the follower's reflection seemed to have a lot of "filler posts". What she appeared to mean with this is that Emz writes about other stuff than running, that Emz has other things going on in her life. I was astounded by this comment. First off - Emz is a serious runner. Serious because she runs. And, not that this makes her a more serious runner, but it just so happens that she runs 3:20 marathons and works really really hard at being a good runner. So, in terms of commitment and achievement, she's got what it takes (she also has the BEST abs in the entire world but that's beside the point. Filler, if you like). But the real thing that astounds me is that idea that we, as runners, wouldn't have "filler". Or a life, as you could also call it.
My life is full to busting with filler right now. We are finally getting to the good bits of some major redecoration in this house, so there are endless trips to paint shops and decisions and drawings and considerations. My kids have had all sorts of emotional stuff going on in their lives recently which I've been heavily involved with. My husband's businesses are doing really well (thank goodness) but I'm required to lend a hand with that, and what I thought was a dormant career is proving to be waking up. What's interesting to me in all of your blogs is not just the running and the training and the race reports - but how you're doing this in the middle of all your life, whatever your life might be like. Even the pros - could you get more "serious runner" than Kara Goucher? - have filler - she didn't race as well as she could have recently because she spent nights by her son's bed in hospital.
It really bothers me that there is this kind of stuff going in the running community. You can see it in the discussions around Boston qualifying standards, discussions about race cut-off times, discussions about walkers in races. I'm not saying we should not discuss this - we should, absolutely, debate these issues - but please don't look at other runners and tell them they are not serious runners. Speed has nothing to do it. Commitment is harder to measure, but a far better way of knowing. Run your own race people - and leave others to do the same!
I'm in real ranting form at the moment aren't I? I guess I'm trying to get my head round various things that have been percolating for a long time, and I'm wanting to work them out and move on. Turning 40 this year can, I know, be a tough thing but I really want to take stock of thoughts and habits that might not be working anymore, and move ahead with the constructive ones. "Filler" can take over, and sometimes you need to step back and work out which filler matters..
So onto my running - have you stopped following me yet? It is going seriously well. I am still loving having a coach. I didn't realise how much mental energy I was expending working out pacing and training and then trying to determine whether I was working hard enough or too hard. Now I just do what she says. Generally I assume that whatever she sets me to do, I can do. Revelatory recent runs?
- a very hilly 18 miler. Last year I was trying to pound out all my long runs at below a 9 minute mile. Looking back, I think I tired myself out on the long runs and thereby lacked quality in my speed and pace work. Coach makes me run my long runs slow and so I'm focusing on form and endurance, rather than getting round quick. There'll be a time for that, but that's not now. The 18 miles was very hilly and because I was hitting it in 2 out and backs, the hills never stopped, but I still made it round comfortably, finished strong (and fast) and averaged a 9:07.
- my first two-fer - 3 easy miles in the morning, then 7 miles of 800 repeats at 7 min/miles and a 1600m at 7:11 min/mile. Not easy, but did it. Can't quite believe it!
So onto February, which will no doubt be a month full of "filler" - bring it on!