One thing that my coaches have engrained in my training is the importance of consistency. All aspects of my life have benefited from consistency. Creating routines, planning, and following goals are ways to be consistent. I could run my 4 days a week and continue to be a good runner. If I want to reach new levels in my running and continue to improve, I need to add intensity.
Intensity is the state of being intense. Marriam Webster defines intense as 1. Existing in an extreme degree. 2. Having or showing a characteristic in extreme degree. 3. Marked by or expressive of great zeal, energy, determination, or concentration. 4. Exhibiting strong feeling or earnestness of purpose.
When I think of being intense or having intensity toward something I usually have a negative view of that thing or experience. But having intensity can be a good thing too. Using intensity in training can push me to new levels and break through boundaries. Intensity can fuel a passion to make me reach for something extra. But intensity needs to be focused. Having intensity toward too many goals could create stress and negative pressures.
My coach, Johnna, challenged me to think of ways I am consistent in my life (or things I do on a frequent basis) and then make a list of things I do intensely (or things that push me out of my comfort zone). As I thought about my day and all the things I do, there are a few things on my list I am not proud of. I am consistently on my phone. But there are other things that are positive like making my bed, brushing my teeth, eating breakfast and having a cup of coffee every morning. Two years ago, I never made my bed and rarely had breakfast. These are things I have been working on. Creating a routine has helped set my morning and create this little, invisible check list for myself to set the mood for the day and feel accomplished. My things I do intensely list was much harder for me to come up with. Running was one I had written down. Looking at these lists have helped me understand more about myself. Johnna recommended listening to the Whoop podcasts on strain. A quote I loved was, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure… You need to ask better questions about yourself.” I came up with these questions to help me understand my lists better.
Questions to ask while looking at my lists:
What are some things I do consistently that are negative?
What can I replace these things with to make them positive?
How many items are on my “intensely” list?
Is it a good ratio to my “consistency” list?
Do the things on my “intensely” list give me drive, motivation or passion?
One thing that has prevented me to be more consistent in my running are excuses. It’s raining. It’s too hot. I need to spend more time with my family. I can’t control the weather but I can include my family on my runs. The past few weeks my husband and daughter have come with me on my 3 mile runs. Twice a week we set out for two laps around our neighborhood. My daughter on her bike and my husband running next to me. This has created a fun routine in our lives, taking away the guilt of leaving them. It also provides a time for my husband and I to chat about our days.
We also tried running as a family on a 5k fun run at Fleet Feet Madison. The furthest my daughter had run before was one mile. We set off strong but walked most of it. We ended up all getting frustrated at each other about half way through. It was hot but popsicles were promised at the end which pushed us on. We realized we set our goals too high and regrouped. We focused on “completing not competing” We completed the run strong and ended up proud of our girl for not giving up. Edi now has a better understanding of distance and pace. She understood when I went for a 7-mile run this past Saturday, that distance was too far for her and wasn’t upset about not being able to go. She also understands that if she wants to continue to race she needs to work hard and running long distances doesn’t just come easy. Consistency > intensity, but finding the passion in that intensity motivates the consistency.