Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Run Less and Slower Than Before (Also, a Marathon Recap)

In December, I signed up for a trail-ish 50k in the Seattle area called the Pigtails Flat Ass. When race day rolled around in less than desirable weather conditions, I had an upset stomach, my heart wasn't into it and there was a mistake at signup that said I was supposed to run the 26.2 instead of the 50k.  I was given the chance to correct the mistake and run the ultra distance, but I happily declined.

That's not a good sign. When you are standing in the cold at 8 in the morning, you should want to be there.

When you have paid money to wake up early and run through slushy trails, you should be happy about it.

Post-race - the resigned smile. "Can we go home, please?"

Running is a cruel mistress. Some days it feels phenomenal, and other times it sucks. That's how it goes, and I accept that. But in December, something switched in me. I realized that I was HATING 95% of my runs. I was - and still am, occasionally- treating the act of running as some kind of punishment.

Overate a bunch of crap? Go for a long run. Extra miles.

Got in a fight with the husband? Sprints. Lung burn to make up for stupid crap you said.

Overwhelmed with work? Tempo run. Focus on the splits rather than how to deal with work problems.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with running as a way to lose weight, relieve stress or think through relationship problems. But I was treating it as a way to punish myself, in a weird way. A hard run made up for other areas of my life that I needed to improve. In many cases, it is easier to hop on the treadmill and push yourself to a faster pace than it it is email with a frustrating client at work, or apologize to my husband, or maybe not eat giant bags of candy while binge-watching reality television. (That last part has a place in every healthy lifestyle, however. Just not every day.)

The Pigtails Flat Ass race, which turned into a marathon for me rather than a 50k, was miserable. I came in at 4:23:45, which was good enough for 5th woman overall in the very, very small field of runners. I met my patient husband, got my cute plastic pig medal and stomped immediately to the car. I was not happy. Not with the time, not with the experience, not with 5th place. It wasn't fun.

So I stopped running.

At first, it was just a few days to recover. Then it was purposefully taking off until the New Year and really enjoying the holidays. Then, it was more than that. I was actively NOT running. After a few weeks, the desire came back, and I began to run a little more. Now, I've been running 2-4 times each week. No rush, no speedwork, not even always a Garmin. I'm not training for anything, I take walk breaks when I feel like it and I have no problem with skipping a few days just because.

It's probably anti-inspirational to say, "Look at me! I run less, and do it even slower than before!" I just feel like it's something that is okay to say.  Contrary to what running blogs might imply, you don't have to run marathons, or compete in 5ks, or even run all that much to still be considered a runner.

I have no races on the calendar - and I'm a runner.

I stopped using Daily Mile - and I'm a runner.

I only wear my Garmin 50% of the time - and I'm a runner.

I don't take sweaty selfies at the completion of each run - and I'm a runner.

I take walk breaks - and I'm a runner.

Running, for the most part, is supposed to be fun. If it's not, you might be doing it wrong.


  1. I am right there with you! I poured my heart and soul into training for my first marathon and then had to bail (DNS) because hubby got transferred back to GA leaving me in NOLA by myself with no one to watch our boys. I lost all desire to run and have only started back up in the past two weeks. I took 2.5+ months off.

    1. I can't imagine doing the training for my first marathon and then having to DNS. I'm sorry :(
      I think restarting, going for that very first run, is the hardest part after a long break - so you did that bit already!

  2. YESSSSS!!! It's ok to run when and how you want to! And it should be fun! If it's not then DON'T DO IT!

    I'm glad you've redisovered your run love. :)

  3. I haven't run since...ummm...January? February? And I'm a runner. I stopped running much earlier in my pregnancy than I thought I would and was ok with it - because that's what my body needed. Once I get medically cleared to run again I too will be running less and slower than before, without a garmin, will be taking walk breaks, and won't have any races on the schedule. And I'm ok with that.
    I hope you're having much more fun running now!

  4. I hear you! There are times when I just really do not love running and right now I am totally feeling that way. After dealing with hip pain for 4 weeks and falling off track with my marathon training plan, I kind of fell apart. There are days when I have to force myself to run because I am tired from all of the other things going on in my life and I don't like that feeling. There are days where running is perfect and I wish it was race day. In any case, take your time and when you are feeling like you love running again, then get back out there. Take care. Hope you are doing well. Miss you!

    1. Thanks, Sandy! I'm sorry you have to skip Mountains 2 Beach - another BQ opportunity will come around soon!

  5. i feel the same way- i maybe run once or twice a week (if i'm lucky). I rarely wear my watch and always walk... i can't remember the last time I went for a run and didn't walk. My ONLY desire to run this last month was introduction of spring and having great weather- i'm sure once the novelty wears off i'll be back to square one.

  6. I don't even run anymore and I am a runner, just one that seems to be chronically injured. Running is pissing me off more than making me happy. Stupid foot, stupid back stupid leg. stupid running. I love running

  7. LOVE THIS!!!! There was a point when I told myself "running is suppose to be fun" and I knew I needed sometime off. best thing ever!

  8. I'm on board with your plan, in fact, I'm basically following it right now! I love removing the pressure and just running/walking for fun/fitness. Except I'm going to have to rescind your "runner" title if you aren't taking sweaty selfie. Sorry, I don't make the rules.

  9. I probably could have written this post myself. So on point! Thanks

  10. Here's the deal: even when we aren't running WE ARE ALL RUNNERS- every commenter on here! Just by the fact that most of us have been running since we were teenagers or just discovered it two years ago or have been passionate enough about it to keep up running blogs - WE ARE RUNNERS. It is not just something we do, it's part of who we are. I went through the same exact thing you describe here and for awhile the only reason I kept running was b/c of my I changed my blog up a bit. I know I will find my way back to it, but it should have that passion, not the punishment. So don't feel bad for backing off for awhile! We are still runners even when we aren't running :)

  11. Great Post and nice article.Keep Running and Go Ahead.Thanks for sharing.