“I hate running! I can’t believe I ever liked to run! I feel like Drew Barrymore’s character in 50 First Dates. Every day, I have to be reminded that running is something I like, that running is something I DO. I look back at old blog posts and can’t believe that person I wrote about… who did a half Ironman, who ran a marathon and half marathons and placed in a few 5Ks last year… is me. ME? I love to run? I love the journey? Where did this person go?!”
This is the voice memo I left myself a few weeks ago, a start of a blog post as I was driving one day. It’s been 10 weeks since my life caught up with me, and my body shut down and refused to cooperate.
So, I cut way back on my workouts and tried to reduce the stress in my life. I started skipping my 4:30 a.m. workouts. I slept in. I focused on nutrition and getting 8-9 hours of sleep each night. I quit my job. I stopped running for a bit, and focused on less demanding activities. I slowly added running back into my day. And it was just like learning how to run all over again. Just like when I made the big decision to be a runner four years ago.
Torture. Pain. Misery.
Every single day for the last 10 weeks, I have absolutely hated running. As hard as I tried, I could not force my body to do what I know it is capable of. I think knowing what I can do is both a curse and a blessing. It almost makes it harder to start over again because it is frustrating to be slow and unable to run 1/4 mile. Yet, it was so hard to “become a runner,” this time around, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it if I didn’t already know that this body can run marathons with proper training.
Yes, it’s important to enjoy the journey, but sometimes you have to put in a bit of hard work before it resembles anything close to fun. And, this is the reason I share this story. So many people want to run and have lots of reasons why they aren’t able. Now, I am not your doctor, and I would never tell you to go against your doctor’s orders. BUT… I hear a lot more excuses than legitimate reasons. Anyone can be a runner if they put their mind to it. The first month, or even two, might not be fun. If you stick with it, and build slowly, YOU WILL BECOME A RUNNER.
This goes for the lifetime couch potato, the former athlete who has been sitting around a bit too long, the runner coming back from an injury. Yes. It sucks in the early stages. But you have to believe it will be worth it. (And it IS!!)
Just a few weeks ago, I couldn’t run 1/4 mile without walking. And my pace was a good 5 minutes a mile slower than what I was running last spring. But, I AM A RUNNER. So I made myself run. It was a frustrating process to work through, but I slowly built up my mileage again. I added intervals and speed workouts. And last week, I started lifting again.
And yesterday, I went into the sunshine, determined to enjoy the experience… and I ran and ran and ran. It wasn’t fast. But it felt good… and suddenly I realized that I love to run!
I feel like I have had 50 First Dates with running. I am thankful I have people around me who remind me to be patient, to accept what my body is capable of doing today… and who remind me that the life of a runner is worth the pain you have to put yourself through in the early stages. I haven’t regained the little speed I had, but I have the endurance piece back, and more importantly, I have rediscovered my love for running.
Above, I have a picture of my favorite “prize” from a race. It’s a jar of mud my friends and I won when we placed in the costume contest at the Lincoln Mud Run. It reminds me of a great weekend with great friends. Even more, I love the symbolism in that tiny jar of mud.
Life can get a little muddy, a little messy. But if you give it time, everything settles, and you find clarity again.
(Ahem… this was a much better party trick about a year ago. My girls like to shake the jar. These days, even the “settled” mud is hard to see through because so much is stuck on the glass. Again, a little symbolic of how crazy our lives have been. But, trust me. The mud settles and there is clear water on the top.)