I was running before I knew what had happened. I don’t even really remember why I started running, probably the press of time and some vague memory of high school cross country meets. The woods are always lovely on foot anyway. And then I signed up for a half-marathon, because I needed something to keep me running.
Finally, it was my running partner who brought it up. She said, “Do you think you’re going to stop running soon, so you can ride bikes?”
This time last year I was training for Rasputitsa, which means I was dutifully cranking out hill repeats in the cold on a Saturday morning and squeezing in miles wherever I could. Spring riding in New England isn’t Type 1 fun usually, but you put a ride like Rasputitsa on your calendar to make you do it, to jumpstart your season.
This is the classic paradigm of racing-to-train, which is when you don’t really care about racing-to-win, but you put a race (or any event) on your calendar to motivate you to do the training you want to do. The inverse of this is training-to-race, which is something that competitive people do, I’m told.
After two seasons at Rasputitsa, I was looking for something different this year, and just fell into running. The whole discussion about whether I was going to go back to riding bikes came up after some people I know whizzed passed us on gravel bikes. I might have made some involuntary sound of longing or regret. I don’t remember clearly.
We trotted on down the dirt path, and it occurred to me then, as we fell back to chatting, that the phases of my fitness are governed by two primary factors, habits and projects, in a sort of chicken-or-the-egg, or Oroboros-like absurdity. I’m pretty good at getting in a groove (habits) and putting in the work day-after-day over a long period of time. That groove can be interrupted or even destroyed by a work trip or a vacation or an illness, but otherwise I can do right-left-right-left really well. Maintaining motivation to do that is usually predicated on having a project, like a race. So the habits feed the projects and the projects feed the habits.
I’m running a half-marathon at the end of April. That’s the current project. I’m riding my bike, but I’m running too, because that supports the current project. The next project needs to be a bike project, I think. It’s time to tune up the bike habits.
This week’s Group Ride asks how this works for you? Do you need events to be able to ride regularly (or even commit the sin of running)? Or are you able to maintain the habits without the projects? Is the maintenance of the habits enough project all on its own?
Image: Ski Burke