Chutes or Ladders?

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How runners define themselves tells you a lot about the running world.

It’s a ranking system, defined by pace.

"Oh, they’re an 8-minute miler and I'm just a 12-minute miler".

I take issue with this.

These figures are totally banal and tell me nothing.

  • Does that person usually run that pace figure?

  • Should they?

  • Does that figure match any average pace for their races longer than 10k?

It’s presented as a hierarchy, as a ladder to climb.

In my view, it’s not a ladder it’s a chute.

I categorize runners by how far down that chute they've slid.

Stage 1: “I’m a runner!” : joining a running group or purchasing specialty running shoes/gear.

Stage 2: “I’m running my first (X)!”: running a distance longer than 2 hours, either alone or as part of an event you didn't realize would take 2+ hours.

Stage 3: “I’m training for my first (X)!”: signing up for an event longer than 2 hours on purpose. This is when people do Google searches that lead them to free downloadable beginner plans and begin a process they consider to be ‘training for an event’.

Stage 4: “I’m training for NOT MY FIRST (X) with the (Y) pace group!” : signing up for run training AND/OR buying an expensive GPS watch that tells you where you've been not where to go; this rewards people for obsessing over paces.

Stage 5: “I’m getting serious about training for NOT MY FIRST (X) so I am hiring (a coach/nutrition expert)!”: this is seen as "getting serious" and the expense harder to justify since you're broke from the Garmin purchase, the shoes, the sweat-wicking run clothes, the race entries, the race PHOTOS...How is running so expensive?

...and this is the running industry’s fatal flaw.

When it’s all about the pace, then it’s all about the race.

The chute directs you from race to race, in pursuit of ‘smaller’ and ‘faster’.

This is why you are seeing so many headlines asking “How to Train Without Races?”

This, in turn, explains Stage 6: “I’m taking a break from running”.

Maybe they were burned out. Maybe they were injured too many times. Most aren’t tired of running, they are tired of endless racing cycles and aren’t aware of other options.

Most people find me at Stage 6, scared to return to Stage 1. I tell them not to worry. We don’t fall down chutes, we climb ladders.

Fitness Protection runners show up year-round. That’s our goal: creating space for ourselves in our schedules, in our lives, and in the world (both on and off the road). We show up for ourselves and go any direction we please.

We also show up for group runs and races. Both are really nice options, but they aren’t our reasons to run. We’ve been down the chute before.

(...and we may never go back)

If you’re wondering what you’re missing, if you realize you are at the bottom of the chute I just described, I have a ladder for you. We’ll climb out when you are ready.

Fitness Protection offers programs for every stage of your running journey. You are more than the sum of the data points that say nothing about your badassery. You deserve better.

(Spoiler alert: Better is right here)

You are coached. You are loved. And if you don’t have a plan and aren’t quite sure what to do, try Avocado Toast. It’s our go-to workout, a reliable option that is never a bad choice. Really, (multiple) options are all you need to be #winningatlife. We will give you a few more via Instagram over the next few weeks, follow us so you don’t miss anything.


Coach MK

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