Tim Rossi might have found the unlock
Editor's Note: NYC native Tim Rossi lives and breathes running. You'll catch him logging huge miles week on week and racing anything he can on the east coast, always repping his crew, Lostboys.
When he's not running, he's writing about running for TEMPO as our first regular columnist.
“So what are you going to do differently?”
After throwing my goals out to the universe (if you have not seen them, I suggest heading over here), this was the first actual question I got asked by a friend.
It’s also the most logical question.
To recap, I am currently a 2:46 guy. I also just ran 1:12:29 on May 19th, good for 2 minute and 9 second PR (those are my marathon and half times, cause let’s be honest that’s all that actually matters post-college… kidding… kidding). I am currently aiming to run under 2:30 this year and eventually qualify for the Olympic Trials. I have been running seriously since 2014, but am coming off of 2ish years of injury (via 2 foot fractures and 1 shin-stress-reaction).
I also am coming off of 8 months of consistent training and PRs at every distance from the mile to the half (fun fact: I PR’d in the 10k twice during the half, over the first 10k and over the second 10k). So the short answer is I should continue to improve by literally continuing to do what I am doing.
But this is also an article and it would suck if I ended things right there.
It’s also a BS answer.
What I was doing before I broke my body was, clearly, running stupidly and trying to do more than I could handle (hence, broken body).
What I have been doing since is consistent training that I can handle. It is also training that is leading to improvements in my running. Who would have thought that 8ish months of consistent running would lead to faster running? Logic.
But in an era where people like to talk about marginal gains via a variety of factors, I am out here trying to chop 16+ minutes off my PR. A sub-2 hour marathon is 2.5% faster than Kimetto’s WR. I’m trying to run about 10% faster than my current PR.
I’m unsure if that qualifies as a “marginal” gain.
So, clearly, there are some adjustments I’m going to need to make to my running to reach these goals. And aside from re-readying Once A Runner over and over to stay motivated and blasting Blink 182 during all of my workouts to ensure I’m consistently hammering, there are a few specific areas I am going to attack in the quest for improvement.
The buckets are: - Weight - Long Term Plan - Training Partners
I am going to breeze through those first two because I find them less interesting than the third (if I am wrong, I don’t know, DM me and I can write about those next time).
In regards to weight, it’s pretty simple: I am fatter than I need to be. No, I am not going to become Mr. Plant Based Runner and cut my calories freakishly. I believe in eating whatever you want, but in moderation. I am simply going to track my food more and let my weight steadily decrease as I burn off “all that is not necessary.” (another Once a Runner reference, if you haven’t already ordered a copy I really don’t know what you are doing).
As for “Long Term Planning,” this is also pretty self-explanatory. Yes, running 2:30 is the goal for NYC this year. But it is ultimately a stepping-stone. What that means is I am not willing to break myself again in pursuit of this singular race.
In the past I would only view things in 12-week blocks. I never really thought about what I was going to do after, and because of this I threw myself into those blocks with reckless abandon.
Now I already have some races lined up for after the marathon: my local turkey trot (the only race I ever win, please don’t let this jinx me), CIM (pacing duties), Club XC Nationals, and plenty of other bigger things with bigger goals. Ideally, I train hard for this marathon, breakthrough to a new level of fitness, and then have a new floor to build upon.
Does this mean I will train less hard for the marathon?
What is does mean is that if I need a rest day or I need to keep the mileage lower to allow for greater consistency, I am going to do that.
Now that we have hammered through those, lets turn to the biggest change I am making.
"In the past I would only view things in 12-week blocks. I never really thought about what I was going to do after, and because of this I threw myself into those blocks with reckless abandon"
“100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the whole team” – Yoda aka Kipchoge.
Let me get this out there, this is not a philosophy that I have utilized in my own training. Ever.
Running, for me, is very personal.
I LIKE running alone.
I can think, I can get away from the craziness of NYC, work, relationships, all of that. But, from a performance lens, I also think running alone is important. It’s important to learn how to grind out miles alone. To run fast when literally no one is watching.
To stay on the path when you, and only you, will know if you stray.
Mental toughness is HUGE in the marathon, and running alone teaches mental toughness.
I know that if I can run a pace alone on the streets with only my shadow for company then I will be able to run that same pace (at an easier effort) when competing.
However, that lone wolf training is only part of it, and there is indisputable value in training with others. The key here is I have found people that are pursuing the same thing as me. People that are on that invisible path, that have dared to dream.
They are people that don’t want to hammer on easy days but will grind on hard days. They will wake up at weird hours to crush long runs, travel miles for soft surfaces when needed. They make the miles pass easy.
These are the Lostboys, but also others. People from other teams, other walks of life, all pursuing that dream. And we have been doing it alone or in smaller pockets for too long, not leaning on one another the way we can.
One of my big goals this training cycle is to bring that group of dreamers together so that we can share in the grind, share in the lows, and, most importantly, share in each other’s wins.
To know that we worked together to breakthrough, that is going to be huge in 20 weeks.
While our lives don’t allow us to all run together all of the time, we will be looking to get after key long runs and tempo runs together. Some of the mileage will still be alone, but the company and the push during key sessions will (hopefully) be something that allows me to breakthrough to that next level.
Sandpaper, not a hammer (to steal a Peter Bromka quote).
That’s my plan.
And ideally this is a call to action for all of you, those individuals that have inexplicably made it to the end of this piece.
It is easy to get into a groove, to be comfortable with how everything is going (both in life and in running for that matter. Side note: I see a ton of parallels between life and running. Again, that’s another piece).
I do believe that as you grow in this sport you begin to figure out what works and what doesn’t, which workouts make sense, which long runs don’t. But I also think it’s naïve to think that what you are doing is perfect. Every training block is an opportunity to learn about yourself, and ideally it feeds into tweaks that you make in the future. Sometimes things will go well and only small changes will happen, and then other times you will decide to make bigger changes like I have. Regardless, I would encourage all of you to have an honest look in the mirror (I’m looking at the man (or women) in the mirror – Michael Jackson, couldn’t resist) and be honest about what needs to change.
What needs to change for you to get to that level you want to be at?
Make those changes now.
Go do it.
And no, the answer to the above should not be EPO.
What is going happen to me? I have no idea. But I cannot wait to find out.