What a loaded word.
Depending on where you are along the endurance athletic spectrum, the answer will vary greatly.
Try not to judge yourself against other endurance athletes – I know, a hard request to follow, but one which will serve you well throughout this endurance journey. For, we are all coming into this endurance race space at different times in our lives, different fitness levels and with a multitude of motivational factors, which drive us day after day.
Remember, this is your journey, which you are embarking upon – no one else’s. Remind yourself of this when you feel like you’re falling short of where you think you should be or when you have concluded you will never be as fast or as fit as other people you know. Hogwash! Progress comes in an eclectic array of results – some more conventional than others.
Your Times NOT Their Times
My high school coach would say to me, “the clock don’t lie”; meaning, you’re as fit or as fast as your time indicates. But, let’s take this idea one step further and talk about where your starting point is. A person who can run a 5-minute mile for a 5K is faster, and maybe even fitter, than the runner who holds an 11-minute mile for the same distance, but the question we should really be asking is where did these two runners start? Was the 11-minute miler three months ago a 13-minute miler? Was the 5-minute miler a 4:30-mile pace guy a year or so back? Judge your time progress by your times, not where you’d like to be one day or where others are currently.
Day by Day
- Taking it one day at a time
- Taking it day-by-day
- One step at a time
You have all heard of these idioms and understand their meanings, and would like to think you embody this overall philosophy in as many aspects of your lives as possible. But when it comes to judging your personal progress within the endurance realm, do you follow these idioms’ sage advice? Are you making each and every training ride, run or swim into some sort of litmus test for how fast or fit you are? Is a “bad” endurance workout crushing? A “good” endurance workout awe inspiring?
If so, then you are giving too much power to workout results. There are so many variables that go into why you have good and bad workouts – many times having absolutely nothing to do with your physical ability. Looking for patterns in your daily workouts may help you come to conclusions on possible tweaks or changes you may need to give to your training plan. But I would suggest that you realize there is rarely ever a straight line from point A (where you are now) to point B (your endurance goal); moreover, understand that there will be setbacks in your workouts from time-to-time, so focus more on how you are progressing weekly and monthly within our overall training structure.
For some of you losing your first 5 lbs is progress. For others, progress is getting out of bed and making it beyond your front door for your morning walk (which eventually will turn into a run). Some of you think if you don’t get at least a 50-mile bike ride in a few times a week, you’ve done utterly nothing in regards to working out. The point is we are all coming from different places and perspectives. Because you have young children at home and are a single-parent, you can never get in an early morning run in with your friends. Or because you are on the road constantly for work, you are forced to either get a 45-minute treadmill workout in at the crack-of-dawn or no workout at all.
These are not excuses, these are your daily realities. Yes, some sacrifice needs to be made if you wish to reach some lofty endurance goal you have set for ourselves, but you don’t need to try to reach this goal with one fell swoop of your endurance axe.
Remind yourself that progress for you is not the same as it will be for others. Perhaps progress for you is doing your first 50K trail race. While for others of you, progress means logging in 5 total miles this week for the very first time. Stay hungry in your quest for attaining your endurance goals, but never forget that progress isn’t measured by who you are catching up to but how much you have caught up to where you want to go.