Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Three Stages Of A Runner

You start out as a newbie, eager to learn and looking admiringly and completely in awe at those incredible feats of human endurance that some of the other runners can do. Sub-3 marathon runners are demi-Gods, to be admired from afar but their running is so far removed from what you can do, it's barely the same sport.

Eventually you learn a few things, usually from your own mistakes but if you're lucky from others' as well, and if you keep training consistently for a few years you move into the competitive stage. This is a great place where you are running better than you ever dared to dream. You might run a sub-3 marathon, and some lucky gits run even faster, and you might bring home a few prizes, and if you're old enough then the age group trophies will start to stack up. This is all great, but at the same time you always feel some pressure whenever you're running a race, always need to push on, and the nature of running means that from time to time you will fail. Initially you're almost guaranteed a PB whenever you pin a number onto your chest, but eventual you will have to start working really hard for the occasional good race.

And then, finally, you move into the third phase. Your body isn't capable of producing new PBs any more, you have to strain to stay within a minute per mile slower than you used to run on your easy days and the prizes are being taken home by new faces, often runners you saw starting out years ago, when they couldn't even dare to keep up with you and thought of yourself as one of those demi-Gods mentioned earlier. Now it's time to forget about time, just enjoy the running and keep going.

Not everyone goes through all stages. Some aren't interested in training hard enough to start competing for prizes. And that's fine. Others stop running when they're no longer competitive, which is their own choice but one I hate to see, to be honest.

As I'm moving into phase three myself I can see that my body moved here a couple of years before my spirit. It's not an easy transition. I can't help but compare my times with the ones I used to produce, and the fact that my races are now slower than my training runs used to be is a bit hard to take at times. I still have a notion of having to achieve a certain time, and when I think of the Connemara Ultra and can't see myself running under 6 hours when I once ran 4:49, that can be a bitter pill to swallow at time.

It's hard to let go!

Why do I keep going? Because I love running just as much as I used to! I was never motivated by the idea of winning prizes or the occasional race, though those were very nice bonuses. But it's not what I craved. Just give me a pair of shoes and a road, and I'm happy out.

With that in mind it's a very good thing that the hip is definitely starting to cooperate. I ran every second day this week and both days of the weekend. I can still feel the hip but it's no longer bothering me. I did 2 runs on my treadmill and I can see from my reflection that I'm moving just fine, not lopsided, and I'm no longer subconsciously trying to protect my hip. The main problem now is no longer the injury but the loss of fitness over the last 8-or-so weeks. That will take a while.

5 Mar
4.02 miles, 36:08, 8:59 pace, HR 145
7 Mar
3(-ish) miles, 30:19, 10:09 pace, HR 135, treadmill
9 Mar
4.04 miles, 35:14, 8:43 pace, HR 149
10 Mar
6.33 miles, 1:00:00, 9:28 pace, treadmill


  1. Very good post - well considered and well written.

  2. Excellent post again Thomas, I can see from your times that you love the treadmill just as much as I do!

  3. Don't write yourself off just yet Thomas. When I started running, you were not just a Demi-god, but a fully fledged god! I have followed your career with admiration and been very inspired along the way. At 49 you have plenty left, maybe not the sparthathlon again!, but definitely plenty of good races. Let the body heal for a few months, eat cake 🙂

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  5. You have alot of miles in the legs Thomas. My suggestion is to train smarter as you get older.