As you can tell from my (lack of) training logs lately, running has not been a priority. How can someone go from making her daily runs the most important thing in life for 3+ years to realizing she hasn’t logged a single run in a week, two weeks, a month sometimes? Well it wasn’t painless, and even now I wonder if I’ll ever be the fast chick I once was. Worst of all, I was riddled with guilt for a long time. I often felt like I should be out there training. But I can tell you that today I’ve run 2.5 miles in the past two weeks, and before that I’d have to check a log to tell you when I ran.
And I don’t feel one iota guilty about it.
If you are like I was and worry over every missed training opportunity or slow run, extra rest day or other blemish on your training log, I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. Today I share my experience in the hopes that you too can reach a place where a missed run or prioritizing other life experiences over running is nothing to worry about. Really.
I think the problem with a well-engrained routine is that you often feel out of sorts if that routine has to change. In my case, I went from logging 60 – 80+ mile weeks with few rest days for 3+ years in pursuit of a sub 2:46 marathon. I religiously did my track, tempo, and long runs every week. I dragged my butt out onto slogs of runs on rest days. I ran 8+ miles at lunch with my crew almost every day of the week.
I was a slave to my run routine. I moved everything around to prioritize my key workouts and to make sure I got in my target mileage. This might have meant missing out on family get-togethers. It meant blocking out lunch time calls at work. It meant I spent the majority of my time with the same training partners week in and week out. Everything was focused on the next race, the next goal, the next workout, the next fitness level I needed to reach. To put it mildly, I was obsessed with achieving my goals.
But like a junkie I kept coming back, because guess what, I saw big time results! I went from a 3:05:57 PR in 2009 to a 2:49:53 in 2010. But I got greedy and despite improved fitness in 2011, I walked away with a hobbled together 2:51:59, managed to bring it around for a really good Boston in 2012, but just couldn’t keep the PF (planter fascitis) at bay. I was burnt out, injured, and frustrated. So I said enough is enough; it was finally time to stop and get this foot fixed!
And I waited, and I waited, and I waited.
And while I waited, I questioned myself. Is that heel pain still pain? Is it really unbearable? Maybe I can jump back to training. Every missed training day, my mind would dwell on the missed lunch run, the missed track workout, the missed tempo, and as time went by, the missed races. I have literally gone months without seeing people who for several years were my only social companions. And trust me, I felt guilty about that, too! If only I could suck it up, if only I was more motivated, if only I had a goal.
But the truth is that right now I’m just not ready to get back to training. Physically my body might be on board, but mentally it just isn’t there. And here are the reasons I don’t feel one ounce guilty:
1) I’m still fit! I’m cycling quite a bit, I swim occasionally, and when I want to run, I run. Am I my former super speedy self? Nope, but that’s ok, as long as I am healthy.
2) I am HAPPY. I am soooo much happier than any marathon PR day. Sure those days were awesome, but those are highs, and they came with lows. When and if I do get back into PR shape, I know it will be that much more satisfactory when done with the rest of my life and mood in balance!
3) I’ve come to grips with the fact that some days, I just can’t do it all. And sometimes work gets in the way, or house repairs get in the way, or a concert takes precedent, or cuddling is more important. While that was not true for me before, it is now, and I hope to never go back!
4) Reflecting on my injury, my stubbornness, and my training, I can confidently say had I not been so focused and had I valued other things outside of chasing the goal, I would have gotten in the needed rest and recovery that would have kept me fit, kept me mentally healthy, and kept my passion for running from fading. And I can say with confidence it would have allowed me to reach my goals. Lesson learned!
So readers, I encourage you to learn from my mistakes! If you are in a rut right now, and you don’t feel like running, it’s ok! Cut yourself some slack. So you ran your tempo slower than last week, or a work deadline kept you from your long run? Get over it! There’s always next week!
Most importantly, if you need a break, take it. Running is not going anywhere permanently (unless you want it to) and it will come back when you are ready for it. Just a little pep talk from Pepper to say, bag the guilt and get back to what you love when it is right for you.
HAVE YOU EVER BURNED OUT ON RUNNING? HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE THE PURSUIT OF YOUR RUNNING GOALS HAD TAKEN OVER YOUR LIFE?