Speed is relative. What may seem slow to you, may seem unthinkably fast to someone else! As you embark on your training, remember that speed is relative and so just try to be the best and fastest YOU can be. Enjoy this blog written by RADrabbitPRO Sandi Nypaver as she strives to be the fastest version of herself!
Fast for Me
“I’m not very fast, but I can keep going for a long time.” That’s the story I repeated over and over again since becoming an ultra runner. The “little bit” of speed I had along with strong legs was enough to win or podium for many ultra races and that’s what I came to believe I was good at and what I should stick too. Why bother doing other types of races when I wouldn’t place as well?
Then I had achilles surgery, basically didn’t run for a year and a half, and wasn’t able to start running consistently again until spring 2016. I knew neither I or my achilles was ready to run an ultra at the start of summer and yet I thought I could handle a “shorter” race. Having never identified as fast, I wasn’t too thrilled my first race back would be the Dirty 30- 12 miler, but I had to start somewhere. Much to my surprise I won the race and after being out from running so long I really enjoyed that I didn’t have to worry as much about recovery as I would after an ultra. I signed up for another sub ultra mountain race, then another, and then another. I kept surprising myself with placing above my expectations. I learned that if I was given a steep climb I could hold my own again women who I couldn’t stick with for a half mile during a 5k.
From switching to ultras to sub-ultra mountain races my story switched from “I’m not very fast, but I can keep going for a long time” to “I’m still not that fast, but I guess I’m pretty fast for a mountain runner.”
That brings me to where I’m at now. After analyzing my 2016 season, I knew I could have placed better in a few races if I could improve my “flat” speed even just a little. Even in many mountain races, there are still often sections of relatively flat, smooth trails and I had a tough time keeping up with the road/track stars in those places. As much as my heart is in the mountains, I like to improve and so I decided to start 2017 off with a short 5-10km road season so I could focus on getting faster. When first thinking about this I was intimidated. Sure, I may be considered and elite MUT (mountain-ultra-trail) runner, but I’m not an elite road runner. I don’t expect crazy fast times and I don’t expect to podium, especially when I live in a town full of professional road runners. Then I remembered what I sometimes tell the athletes I coach, “be fast for you!” After giving it a little more thought, I realized it may actually be nice to spend the first part of the year doing races where I’m not expected to place well. I’ve never done a road 5k or 10k, so I have nowhere to go but up. Most importantly, all I have to do is be fast for me, my fast for the moment, my fast for the race. I’ve seen so many runners compare times and get into the mindset of “I’m slow and I’ll never be as good as that person”, but what good does that do? I guarantee that mindset has stopped me from reaching my potential in past years and it has for plenty of others as well. I’m not saying to not compete. The original definition of compete is “to strive together”, so look at other runners as people who are there to make sure you truly bring the fastest version of yourself for the day.
A couple days ago I was doing a workout, I looked at my pace on my watch, and the thought slipped in that an elite road runner could go much faster. I told that thought it was b.s., started repeating the mantra “I’m fast and getting faster” and successfully completed the workout in a time that was my fast for the day. (This kind of thought process may take some practice!) Even when I switch back to fully focusing on mountain running in a couple of months, I plan on doing everything I can to keep that mindset. As long as I can be my personal fast for the day, then I should feel proud of that.
So who wants to join me? I’ll do everything I can to be the fastest version of myself and you do everything in your power to be the fastest version of yourself!
- Sandi Nypaver, RADrabbitPRO