QT: 7 Running Lessons Learned from Riding Out Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma was something.

According to the news, it was a “nuclear” hurricane. Yeah, that might have been overselling things just a bit.

But there is no denying the fact that it was a big hurricane that had the potential to really do some serious damage.

After the storm had passed, I started thinking back on the experience and realized that there were more than a few things I could learn from the storm that applied as much to my running as they do to anything else.

While I wouldn’t want any of you to have to ride out a hurricane if you can avoid it, perhaps you can learn a few things from my experience that will help you on the roads and trails this fall and into the future.

Running Lessons Learned from Hurricane Irma

1: Predictions May Give You an Idea, but They are Far From an Exact Science

I’ve been on record before as saying that race/pace predictors are the next best thing to useless.

I know some people love them a pace calculator, but I’m still waiting for a good explanation of how entering your 5k PR somehow can predict how you’ll do in a marathon.

Saying that there is some formula that does the job is laughable.

The two races are, obviously, quite different. Different muscle fibers are used. Different race strategies. And the training methods for the two races are quite different as well.

Point blank, trying to predict your performance on race day based on previous races is a fool’s game.

2: Don’t Believe the Hype

The hype train can become a runaway train in the blink of an eye, especially in the age of social media.

Products, races, and running gear is quick to be labeled the best/worst ever, and after a few blog posts and a handful of social media shares, everyone becomes an expert.

Slow down.

In most cases, take your recommendations with a grain of salt.

There are no universally great products, and there are no universally terrible products.

Lots of folks, myself included, try to give honest reviews of products and races.

But remember, those reviews are nothing more than opinions.

And you know what they say about opinions…

3: Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best

Too often, we find ourselves planning for things to perfectly on race day.

In truth? Rarely do things go as planned.

By preparing for the worst case scenario, you won’t get thrown off (as much) when things start to unravel on race day.

And if everything happens to fall into place for you on race day? Even better!

4: Hindsight is Always 20/20

Experience is one of the best teachers we have.

Every race, whether things go well or not, is a chance to learn something that can serve you in future races.

But only if you take time to reflect on your race.

What will you do differently for your next race? What will you do the same? How can you improve?

You should consider each of these points after your race, and use the lessons you learned to improve your running going forward.

5. Worry About the Things That are Truly Important

Most people running races want to perform well on race day.

But guess what?

The Rock Says It Doesn't Matter

Whether or not you hit your goal for the race, it really doesn’t matter.

What does matter?

That you have fun. That you finish with a smile on your face, even if the race didn’t go how you wanted it to go.

Those are things that matter, not the time on the clock when we finish.

6. You Don’t “Need” as Much as You Think You Do

As runners, a lot of us have gotten confused between your wants and your needs.

You don’t need a fancy Garmin. You don’t need a tech shirt. And you don’t need the fanciest running shoes.

I want all of those things, believe me. But needs? Not so much.

7. People are Pretty Awesome

If you need help, most people will help you.

Especially runners.

Sometimes I start to wonder about us as a species, and honestly being around a group of runners always reminds me how great humanity is.

We give. We care. We love. And we are willing to help a friend, or stranger, in a time of need.

Bidding Hurricane Irma Adieu

Now that Hurricane Irma is in the rearview mirror, the lessons continue to emerge.

Perhaps the biggest lesson is that when something crazy happens in your live, no matter what it is, it may take a little longer to get back to “normal” than you anticipate.

It certainly has for me.

Between take care of the minimal damage that we did have, dealing with the internet being down randomly 4 days after the storm, schedule disruptions, and a whole lot of other extraneous details, life still isn’t “normal” yet.

But it will be.

And when it gets there, my running life will be back to normal as well.

And I can’t wait!

Do Any of the Lessons I Learned Resonate with You? Which Ones?

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2 replies
  1. Julie Faye
    Julie Faye says:

    Great show.

    Hurricanes are pretty powerful teachers. When Sandy hit Long Island five years ago, it taught me all about patience and adaptability. Three weeks spent without being able to go home was definitely something. Even today, things aren’t totally back to normal. They’re still doing construction on the beach in my town to help protect us from a storm surge and some houses remain empty.

    In our case, I don’t think most people thought it would be nearly bad as it ended up being, because the hype train had hyped previous hurricanes to silly levels and barely anything came of them. So we were not prepared.

    I think maybe the running lesson there ties into your first point, that you can’t predict how you’ll do on a race based on your previous races.

    Case in point, I’ve done plenty of obstacle course races and thought I knew how to handle them. That was until my friend became super dehydrated during the last one I did, turning an “easy” 4 miles into a totally stressful experience because I was worried about her the entire time. She had prepped herself fine, but poor organization at the race meant that we got pushed back to a heat two hours later than we were supposed to run and had little chance to make up for it in the meantime. As you said, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

    Really glad your and your family made it through Irma okay!

    • Denny
      Denny says:

      Thanks Julie! So many lessons from all areas of life, not just a hurricane, that can apply to your running.

      The key is to pay attention to the lessons and make sure to actually apply them going forward!


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