The one thing that sucks about leaving your blog for a few months, empty and unposted, is that when you come back and start blogging again, inevitably you need to fill up that hole.
Or explain it.
Or something like that.
I stopped blogging last winter about running because I was burned out and complainy and and cold all the time. I kept running, mind you; I just stopped writing about it. Because, really, it’s no fun to listen to someone run and complain, Wow, this SUCKS!
And then, if you’re someone who doesn’t really GET running, you think, Well, I don’t understand why you’re doing it! Maybe find another activity that brings you joy?
I thought about that a LOT, mind you, on a lot of runs. Why do I keep doing this? What is the point? Those questions kept playing – on repeat – in my brain.
The best answer I could come up with is that running, to me, is kind of like having a kid.
I love it, way deep down, all the time, consistently. But I sometimes I kind of don’t really like it, too*.
Sometimes it’s just a run I don’t like; where I’m doing a dead-legged shuffle because my body is determined to recover despite my best intentions, and active recovery is really hard. Or when I haven’t slept the night before and I’m tired and sluggish. Or (TMI alert for the squeamish!) I’ve just gotten my period and my hormones are all outta whack and I’m tired and bitchy and crampy and all the organs in my pelvis start screaming, EVERYBODY OUT!
Sometimes it’s a bunch of runs all clustered together; where my body is trying to get used to running more miles consistently AND the speedwork I’m throwing at it.
Or maybe it’s the weather. Because OMFG it gets cold here in the winter, and I am ALWAYS COLD.
Whatever the reason, there are runs where you feel like crap. The whole time. And I used to look at those as a sign that I needed to work harder, because my fitness wasn’t there or I needed to tweak my fueling or maybe drink more water… basically with every bad run I felt I needed to DO something. And so I started turning running into another job, and I put pressure on myself to get better with every run. Which really kind of sucks, because running SHOULD be about stress relief, not a place where you start to put more on yourself. And then you get into a situation where you are hurt and tired and overtrained and burned out.
It’s taken me some years to realize that it’s actually NORMAL to have runs – or a bunch of runs – that don’t feel great. Because running isn’t always fun and zen and strong and full of endocannabinoids**. It can be hard, too.
So I spent the summer running mostly without a watch, keeping my mileage around 25-30 miles (as much as I could, there were a few weeks where I didn’t make that number), nice and slow, taking the crappy runs as they were, instead of as a sign that I needed to do more. I kept telling myself that running could ebb and flow with the stress in my life, and I really needed the break.
It was SO good for me.
But last week’s half gave me the itch to race again. I want to PR the 5k. The 10k. The half marathon in 2015. I think it’s a realistic goal.
(And man, I wish I had aimed those legs from last fall at a half marathon instead of a marathon. I’d have been AWESOME. Ah well, the things we learn, right?)
So that’s what I mean when I say I want to find the balance between training for a PR and keeping the joy of running, too.
*And yes, I just admitted to you, internets, that though I love my son, there are times where I don’t really like him.
**Did you know it’s endocannibinoids, not endorphins, that give you the famed “runner’s high?” True story. Check it out.