I feel really weird about running at the moment. I don’t think I’ve lost the urge. The love of running is still very much there but it seems less of a priority at the moment. While I was training for the triathlon I was doing something nearly every day. Swimming, biking and running had become a routine. But then with school holidays everything came to a standstill. And then September came, the kids went back to school and I still haven’t got myself back into a normal running routine.
I thought that because the overwhelming compulsion to run no matter what was finally under control I would be able to run at will and whenever I fancied instead of beasting myself and ending up injured. But right now I have ended up lost. There are no races on my horizon. I am reluctant to spend money on races that I might end up not doing. I have no running group or regular running friends that might coax me out with them. I drift aimlessly from running site to social media, reading about everyone else’s adventures and I wonder what I want to do and why the answer isn’t forthcoming.
I do feel like I’m at a bit of a cross roads with many aspects of my life. I am now 35. The children are 7 and 5 but there is a constant nagging voice about the possibility of another baby. I thought I was done but I’m not sure. I am also having a think about my career and how I want to progress or develop over the next few years. I will be entering the second year of my masters and that will take up a fair bit of my time and energy. Baby means my body would be busy doing other important things for a while. Career changes might mean less time for running. Whatever I decide I just feel like running might be the overall loser as it gets shoved down the priority list.
I went out running today and really enjoyed myself. I allowed myself to be lost in running rather than feeling lost about running. The sun was shining and for the first time in a long time I felt good. I felt like running isn’t quite done for me yet. I’m sure I will make some decisions and answers will present themselves to me about the things that I have been pondering. I feel like I am running adrift and I need something to point me in the right direction. Maybe I am more goal orientated than I first thought. What I do know is that running hasn’t gone anywhere, I just need to navigate my way back once I know what I’m doing.
After London Triathlon I ended up doing naff all on the fitness front. I walked the dog but that was it. The boys were still in the midst of their summer holidays so I took the opportunity to have a rest. I thought it would bug me and I would get cross with myself for not training. But I didn’t. The was no over riding compulsion to run, bike or swim. Instead I enjoyed the time I had with the boys until they went back to school and accepted that this wasn’t the time to try and fit in more sessions.
When I look back over the last couple of years I’m amazed that this had become my outlook. Previously the urge to run or train would have been so strong that I would almost become angry and resentful that I wasn’t able to dart off for a run. The thought of losing fitness and detraining would have been almost abhorrent and I would probably have thrown an adult sized tantrum about it. This would be followed by manic training to try and make up for lost time, resulting in niggles.
Compulsion, self judgment, life stressors and constant comparing of myself with others only ended up in one place. Over use injury.
I’m so used to being injured that I had predicted that I would almost certainly get injured while training for the London Triathlon. But I didn’t. I think it was because I placed no expectations on myself, embraced it as all brand new and a great opportunity to learn. I placed an emphasis on enjoying my training and that’s what happened: I enjoyed training and I enjoyed the triathlon. I have no idea if my time was any good but for once in my life it really didn’t matter. It had been about me and my happiness.
Now that the children are back in school I have managed to get back out running again. Instead of stressing about mileage, pace and how fast I have taken an ‘ease back in’ approach. I have managed to get out for about 25 minutes each time, fairly short runs on the face of it. But instead of worrying about how far or how fast I’ve been running for me. When I look back to my first marathon in 2012 that is exactly the reason I was running: for me. And I think that’s why I enjoyed marathon training so much. Once I put all sorts of other stressors on myself it stopped being about me and instead became a compulsive act which wasn’t always so good for me and a body.
I think I’ve recognised, the hard way, that I need to consider my health and emotional well being above everything else. The over riding compulsion to run or train has ebbed away and I now run because I want to not because I think I should. I haven’t entered any more races or events and I haven’t felt the urge to yet. I would rather run this way for a while and then develop a feeling for a goal as things progress. I’m sure I will but I don’t feel any rush to right now. I feel far more in control of running rather than it controlling me. Right now, even though I’m not running far or as fast as I was a couple of years ago, I am happy with running. I am running for me.