Stepping Back

Tuesday, July 30, 2013
I need to take a break from all things running.

Let me explain… Before it got deleted (stupid Blogger), I had written in my last post about how I was getting down on myself and feeling a bit frustrated despite promising when I started this whole thing that I would not compare myself to others, I would advance at my own pace, and I would run for the sheer joy of being able to run. However, thanks to a number of minor events that, while not world altering, worked on destroying my plans by planting seeds of doubt and self-sabotage. Where to begin? There was my mother telling me I run like a girl (and not in a nice way); a night of no sleep whatsoever that threw off my entire schedule and started to make me sick; a slap in the face short bike ride that left me winded and dizzy; running (literally) into the corner of my desk and bruising my arm really badly (FYI, I don't bruise); and a disappointing run that left me questioning why the fuck I’m doing this.
I’m realizing slowly that I am, in a way, setting myself up for failure without realizing what I’m doing. You see, I read a lot of running blogs. I mean a LOT. My entire feed reader is filled with running blogs (~75!) and maybe a handful of non-running blogs belonging to friends of mine. What’s the problem, you might be asking? That’s a good thing right? It would be if I wasn’t starting to compare myself to almost each and every one of them. Wondering, for example, why is it so easy for some people to just get out and run 11 miles with seemingly little effort when I can barely make it through a tenth of ONE mile without stopping? See? That’s what I find myself doing as I read about their wonderful running adventures, speed training sessions, and marathon training schedules.

On top of reading these amazing blogs, every weekend since I began, I’ve been inspiring myself by watching Spirit of the Marathon and a Nova episode about what makes a marathoner? I highly recommend both but watching those average Joes in the Nova episode go from couch potato to Boston Marathon finisher in nine months makes me want to run out and attempt an easy six miles. When I hop on the treadmill and realize that it’s a struggle for me right now to run1/walk1 1.27 miles, it feels a bit like a proverbial slap in the face. The running gods are laughing at me and their laughter makes my heart break.

Don’t worry, I’m not wallowing in self-pity or stuffing myself with ice cream to fill the empty void inside me. There was a delicious strawberry rhubarb pie but that’s another story…

Logically, I know that people progress at different speeds and some activities are easier for some of us than others. Logically, I know that hard work, persistence and listening to my body will pay off in the long run rather than satisfying my inner runner who wants to cross the NY Marathon finish line tomorrow. Logically, I know all this and more. Emotionally? It’s not so easy. Last night I found myself dreaming about running, running blogs, marathons and all the rest but not in a good way. Not quite a nightmare but stressful all the same. Time to slow down and refocus.

Do you see the overwhelming joy in the pictures of my niece and nephew?  I want that.  No, not children... the fun.  The happy. The carefree.
I will continue to read a few local running blogs and a couple of other blogs whose authors are slow runners like me but I will be avoiding the rest for the time being. I need time to find the pleasure in running – lately its seemed like a chore that I’m having trouble working into my schedule. There will be some walking, some bike riding, and yes, some running. There will be no thoughts of future marathons, Disney DoubleDumboDares (or whatever they are called) or speed work on a track. What there will be is a renewed focus on becoming healthier, enjoying any activity I choose to undertake on any given day, and less pressure put upon myself to become something I may never achieve.

My own blogging will continue, as will the occasional tweet. I’m still excited to volunteer at the upcoming Edmonton Marathon and the Heart Beat Run in September. I’m also still looking forward to taking part in the Terry Fox run (also in September) although I’m hoping that maybe I’ll be able to run the 5K (intervals, yay!) rather than walk the 10K.

This is not an end to running but rather a redirection. I’ve been reading John Bingham’s The Courage to Start and its helped me to realize that if there’s no fun, no enjoyment, no pleasure in what I’m doing, there’s also no point. That’s what I need to find at this time. I need to really love that I was able to run/walk 1.27 miles, not to belittle that accomplishment while comparing myself to more accomplished runners. Even the fiercest amongst us have moments of doubt. However, it’s important to realize that its ok, its normal and we all have those thoughts. It’s now time to pick myself up, dust off the bad thoughts and get back on my feet!

Speaking of feet, stay tuned for an upcoming post on running with arthritis!


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