I’ve been struggling with some planning/descisioning about my running plans for this year. You see, as I wrapped up my training for the Grand Rapids Marathon last October, I was feeling exhausted, worn out and sick of running. At that point, I’d already run 20 races and was feeling the wear and tear on my psyche and on my body.
I didn’t want to run anymore. And for someone who had fallen madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love with the sport (sorry, Mr. B, but it is what it is), that was kind of a disgusting feeling. When running became something I had to do to make sure I was prepared for all things marathon, it became more of a chore than it was something I looked forward to. And that makes me sad to think about.
As I’ve been in a training lull, I’ve found my footing again and have looked forward to running with friends, running alone, running in the dark, running in the cold, running in the sun … well, you get it. Plus, I’ve had more time to dedicate to cross training, weight lifting and having fun doing active things again — with no pressures of a GPS or HRM, unless I wanted it. I’ve missed that feeling… that smile that spreads across my face as I lace up my shoes … that skip in my step as I head out the door at 5 a.m. in 10 degree temps … that joy that enters my voice when I talk about running … that amazing high that lasts the whole day.
In fact, I had nearly a perfect running day today.
I woke up with the sun shining in the window, and I couldn’t help but feel excited. “I get to run today,” I tell Mr. B with a smile on my face. That word? “Get.” Yeah. That’s key. For a while — since before the marathon in October, it had turned into “have” or “must” or “need to.” While I was enjoying training and having friends to run with for once, my happy place had slowly faded away. And I was slowly falling out of love with running. Running used to be something to take my mind off my growing to-do and to-be lists. But it had become one more item on those lists.
I was in a funk, and I could see it getting worse. I was still running. And I still felt good after running — never regretting a run I did. But it just wasn’t the same.
So when I woke up this morning with so much excitement about my run? I felt like myself again. And, truly, I felt relieved. If I lost running, I didn’t know what would take its place.
Today it was nearly 40 degrees, sunny and gorgeous outside; it was perfect for a nice, long run. I had originally told Mrs. V that I would run 6 of her 9 miles with her. She only had to ask me once if I wanted to do the whole 9. Because my heart was telling me that that’s what I really wanted. And Mr. B was completely supportive.
He was out on the trail today, too. He got in a nice hour-long walk and a visit to Starbucks while I found my run-happy place again. (Bonus: A partner who is supportive of my running and encourages me to run happy and run for fun has made a huge difference, too.)
So, why the change? Why was today’s run so happy? Well, honestly, I think it’s because I gave myself permission to not run the full Kalamazoo Marathon — if I so choose. Now, I’m not quitting it. I’ll still do at least the half. But, truly, the training has really been overwhelming me lately and stressing me out. And it’s kept fun-running just outside of my grasp. But after talking it over with myself and Mr. B and really examining how I feel about the situation, I realized what was going on. And I gave myself permission to not do the full 26.2 if I don’t feel up for it. And that simple act of allowing myself not to have to do it has relieved 96 percent of the pressure and stress.
Now, I’m still signed up for the full. And I’m keeping that training program in my calendar. But the flexibility and freedom of knowing it’s OK if I decide that’s not what I really want has allowed me to find my happy place. And it’s made running fun again.
I love running too much for it to become something I have to force myself to do. (Writing sometimes feels that way, too, since it’s my job and my love. But that’s a post for another day.)
I don’t know how Kalamazoo will play out yet — there’s plenty of time between now and then to decide. What I do know for sure is that in 2012, the smile will return to my face when I lace up my shoes and head out the door — one way or another.