This is the first time in well over a year that I’m not training for some kind of race.
It feels extremely weird. Really, really weird. It was my personal choice — for my body’s sake, my mind’s sake, my relationship’s sake and my bank account’s sake. But that doesn’t make it less hard.
And it’s leaving too much time for thinking. And doubting.
- Can I still do it?
- What if I lose all the gains I’ve made in training?
- How am I going to fill my time?
- What can I train for next?
- Does my body (and bank account) really need this break?
- What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just run like I used to?
- Does this make me less of a runner?
- Is running for fun really going to work for me?
- Who am I without a training plan?
- What can my next goal be, if it’s not to conquer a new distance?
- Why is it so hard for me to return to my running roots — the ones of love and joy and hope?
I do know that most of this is nonsense. A runner without a training plan is, of course, still a runner. I am firm in my belief:
If you run, you are a runner.
Besides, racing isn’t the only way to run. And racing doesn’t define you as a runner. Just ask Kara Goucher.
“That’s the thing about running: Your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.” ~Kara Goucher, via Runner’s World
After the Kalamazoo Half Marathon, I was completely exhausted from running and took a full week off. I came back to running feeling much better about it and knowing that I needed to take some time off from strict training programs — for a while, anyway. My mind needed it as much as my body did. And that first run back? I was beginning to see glimpses of that very new love I felt when I took my first steps as a runner. I want to get back there again.
In the beginning, I fell in love with running for running — not racing. Running saved my life — not racing. Running taught me to love myself and believe in myself — not racing. Racing was simply a way to say: “See, I really can do it. Look how far I’ve come.”
I just need to get back to that original love. That running for running’s sake. That rush and love and joy of running. But I know myself very well, and I am an extremely goal-driven person. If I don’t have a new challenge to work toward, it’s hard for me.
I’ll get back there. Every day I lace up my running shoes and head out the door is a good day — even when the run’s kinda stinky. And I know know that this is the right step for me this year — amidst wedding planning, family “stuff” and blending two lives. But, again, that doesn’t make it any less difficult.
But there’s a component that’s missing lately. I can’t put my finger on it. A written schedule may help — it reads like a training plan without the pressure — and gives me a daily goal to meet. Perhaps shedding the GPS now and again would help, too.
Maybe you all have some suggestions as well?
Whispery part: I must admit, some days it’s quite hard to read about everyone’s training and races, knowing that I don’t have a race in my very near future. Some days I get jealous of the looks of accomplishment across people’s faces when they finish a race. And it’s hard to stand firm in my belief in myself as a runner, knowing that even though I don’t race, I’m still a runner.