Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Newbie Chronicles: Volume 3: Dealing with Information Overload

It recently occurred to me that “the newbie chronicles” is actually a column posted by RW. Whoops. I suppose one day, if I ever receive more than 30hits daily on this blog, I’ll probably receive a cease & desist order from RW. Then I’ll change all the titles. No hard feelings, mmk?

Since I joined the blog community I’ve been on information overload. I won’t date this overload to when I began running, because I was underloaded then (is that a word? I don’t think so.) When I began running-ish (2008), my dad got me to Fleet Feet straight away for proper running shoes. But that was about it. I didn’t do any research at all and was riddled with pain, injury, and lack of inspiration.

Once I found blogger, things changed. I was totally inspired by some awesome runner blogs, and learned sooo sooo much. Too much.

I was just a newb, back in August 2010, when I really finally geared up for a race. And I began reading blogs around the holidays. I was just trying to make it past my 10k barrier, and these people are talking about tempo runs, thresholds, intervals, age groups, MGP, etc etc. I had to do additional research just to understand half the words in some of these posts/articles.

I am super self conscious and self critical. Also pretty mean, to myself…

Right away I dug in with the “omg I’m not doing this right” “omg I’m never going to be fast” “how could I have been so stupid” “you’ll never be good at this, Jennifer.” Blah blah blah.

Then I finished my first half marathon.

Yes, in my training the first time I did do some tempo, progression, and interval workouts (after I learned what they are). I liked this because at the beginning of my training I was on the treadmill a lot due to an extended winter and a lack of property owner accountability in shoveling sidewalks in this dreadful city. So the various workouts kept me interested while I was on the treadmill for most runs. However, throughout that first training cycle, I still thought “I wasn’t doing it right.”

Well, I ran 13.1 miles, and finished the race, so I was obviously doing something right.

When people start out running, it is SO easy to be overwhelmed by all the information. There’s so much out there, and so much that other people are doing. I’m not saying that beginners shouldn’t research and read and absorb as much as they can, but you have to keep perspective. I’m new to this. Getting out there every day and putting one foot in front of the other is good enough, when you’re just starting out. YES, reading about slowly increasing your mileage, getting proper shoes (and socks) is super important. Finding a way to prevent chafing, and reading about how to take in the appropriate amount of calories and fluids on long runs is also important. But don’t loose sight of reality. I wasn’t trying to BQ here, I just wanted to finish a half marathon.

I came across an article from on consistency. It really put things back in perspective for me. It was from the point of view of a coach for triathletes. I am not a triathlete, or really, even an athlete (see: volume 1). But this article talks about the importance of long term training consistency. “It can take at least a year and a half of consistent training to become race fit.” says the article. I’m making an assumption that this is in reference to people who already consider themselves in shape, which would not be me. With all this being said, I’ve only had “consistent” training since Feb of 2011!!! Hardly enough time to build a solid racing base.

So, its time for me to lay off the information overload guilt-trip and have some perspective as to where I really fit in to the whole running game. This isn’t me making an excuse, it’s a realization that I’m at a starting point. Getting to where all information makes me feel like I should be is going to take time, hard work, and patience. I’m no Olympian, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading Kara Goucher’s blog, or admiring other awesome, speedy, strong runners!

The lesson learned here is information overload is best reconciled with a reality check.


Natalie said...

And you finished the race in style!!

Raquelita said...

This resonated with me, as someone who is relatively new to running. Even though I've been running off and on for years I feel like I've only become a consistent runner in the past year or so. That's barely a drop in the bucket compared to some people who have been running and training for a decade or more.