Training blocks where everything goes great are often the least valuable in the long term. We distance runners tend to then think that we finally know it all. We finally know the silver bullet that kills the running beast! GREAT!

More often than not though, that great training block was a bi-product of all of the lessons of the bad ones coming together in perfect harmony. We just don't want to admit that we needed “the bad times.” My last training block was one of those infamously bad buildups. I was trying to work on some speedwork, but would run 10 mile tempos at faster paces than I would run 400m repeats on the track. Clearly, something wasn't right.

So this week, just following Houston half-marathon, I took a little break. I spent a week of ZERO running. No hard runs, no easy runs, no tempo runs, none of it! A great piece of advice that my college coach, Al Carius, used to preach came back to me. “Nature energizes us. If you feel tired, go get lost in nature!” I took every opportunity to go into nature this week. I went on hikes in Boulder; I went and hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park...TWICE! It was fantastic, exactly what I needed!

I'm sure that people at work have noticed that I'm a shade peppier and happier this week. I'm sure my roommates notice my extra energy too. The nature excursions are just one item on my list of “small things” that I made on the flight home from Houston that I hope and expect will help me with my next training block. Most of the things are just tweaking details on stuff I'm already doing (core, strides, recovery work, massages, etc.), but some involve incorporating new elements into training too. Only time will tell how the details will work out for me. I'm adding them or tweaking them because the old stuff just wasn't getting my body to respond anymore. Consistency will be key in this build-up for it to be everything I can make it.

Frank Gramarosso, the now-head coach at North Central College, once said when asked about the secret to the team's perennial success, “it's all the small things.” I agree. It's all the small things that I now have to start focusing on again. I want more than just a taste of success this year. I want the whole damn cake!