Consistency can be defined as steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc. For me, I would say it’s adherence to the same sport – running. As a runner for 12+ years, consistency is something I have really lacked. The only time I can remember where I had a consistent running schedule was when I was about 20 years old and running 5-6 days a week. That only lasted for a few months and ever since then, I have been a 3-4 day a week runner, with a lot of cross training, and a lot of injuries. However, I have always wanted to run more. I think if I could, I would run two a days, every day. I just love being outside and running that much.
A few weeks ago, I posted about why my running is going so well. You can read about it here or I can give you the brief summary: I stopped caring what others thought. Today I would like to share exactly what that attitude has done for me and why it matters.
Today is March 21st and since January 1st, I have had 5 days off from running. I have yet to take a day off this month. Yes, that is an awesome accomplishment (at least for me it is), but it has given me something more. Never, and let me emphasize, never, have I been able to train this successfully for a marathon. As you may know, injuries plague me. But for all the inconsistencies and time off before a race, running a decently fast marathon and Boston qualifying have never been that difficult for me. The only explanation I can come up with for that is I have some sort of running/fitness genes working in my favor. Thanks mom and dad. 🙂
And this brings me to the point of consistency. For so long, I have felt that I could do more with my running. If I could run a 3:28 marathon on one of the hilliest and challenging courses around with no real running 6 weeks beforehand, I knew I could do more with the right training. I needed to find that consistency, but it always eluded me. This past week I came to understand why that consistency matters.
They say the body adapts. Just give it time, and it will adapt to the stresses you place upon it. If you run long enough and do the speed work, you will inevitably get faster and the long runs won’t seem so long. However, sometimes you don’t see these changes right away. Last week was one of those horrible running weeks when the legs feel heavy, things feel stiff, and there are more bad days than good days. I thought about taking a few days off, but I wanted to maintain that consistency. Physiologically, I’m not sure what happened to my body between last week and this week, but something did and I finally saw the benefits of maintaing that consistency. The 4X2000 meter repeats at 6:40 pace felt a little too easy and the 40 minute tempo run that included a 6:54 mile and a 6:49 mile on an incredibly hilly course made me want to deck myself out in gold stars. (You can see that run here.)
I have no idea how many hours I’ve put into running. According to Garmin Connect, I’ve run 598 hours, 58 minutes and 36 seconds. That doesn’t include my treadmill only training phase or the years before I had a Garmin. But it reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers. If you just keep doing something, consistently, no matter what it is and no matter how many bad days you have, you will get better. Yes, I can be a decent runner with sporadic training but I want more than that. I want to really know what I am capable of and to excel at running. The consistency in my training has shown me exactly how important it is to just keep working. It doesn’t happen overnight or even over the course of a month or a year. As with all things in life, if you just work at it, what that it may be, every single day, you will get better. That is what I feel consistency has done for me. It has allowed me to get a little closer to what I know I’m capable of accomplishing.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,
(Boston is in 1 month and 2 days!!! YAY!)