Why My Running is Going so Well…
Today is March 5 and since January 1, I’ve only missed 5 days of running. I’ve run for a total of 443.36 miles and have been running 50+ miles a week for 6 weeks. Now this may not seem so awesome compared to other runners out there, but if you know anything about my history with injuries, you’ll understand that this is a HUGE accomplishment. In fact, if you look at my Garmin chart for the past 12 months, you’ll see a peak, a steady decline, very few miles, and then a spike in mileage. Only to be followed by the same pattern. It’s been all too predictable for so long.
But something is different now. Something has happened and my running has seen a level of success that I have never known before. Some days I worry that it’s all going to fall apart and I’ll be on the couch in tears because I can’t run. But that day hasn’t come and I actually don’t think it will. I truly believe that I’ll make it to the start of the Boston Marathon next month, having actually completed a training cycle. This is new territory for me.
This morning I was having one of those euphoric runs where the music is perfect, your form feels perfect, and the miles just tick by. I started wondering, why? Why is this going all so well for me now? I spoke with my old running coach about it a few weeks ago and he said that sometimes for runners who are injury prone, something clicks one day and their running just takes off. Is it that I’ve had so many injuries before that my body just isn’t going to take anymore? Perhaps something did click, but I have another theory.
My theory is this: I just stopped caring.
Now don’t get me wrong, I care about running. A lot actually. But I stopped fighting myself. I stopped caring what other people may think of me if I ran too “slow”. I stopped obsessing over the miles, the splits, the workouts, the “what ifs”. All of it. I simply let it go. For so long, I’ve felt like I had to prove myself. I’m not sure to who exactly but I wanted people to know that I was a good runner. And that I was a “fast” runner (at least in my book). So what did I do? I pushed myself and my body too hard, too fast, and too often. If I was suppose to be running 6:45 miles, I would run 6:35. If I was suppose to run easy, I’d be running 8:00 min/mile or faster. My long runs on Saturday were the same pace as my runs on Monday and I typically never hit my target pace for workouts. I always went faster. Why? Because I knew I could and I wanted everyone else to know it too.
But something that I’ve really come to understand recently is that it actually doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Sure, I’ve known this but to truly understand it is another thing all together. It turns out that no matter what you think of me or my ability as a runner, I am still the same person, and I know who that person is. And I’m happy with that person. In fact, I’ve also learned that I’m not as important as I thought I was. You see, people aren’t really spending their precious thoughts thinking about what I’m doing. Why would they? They have their own lives and I’m 100% certain that the person who saw me running at my much slower than normal pace in downtown Raleigh, didn’t even look at me twice. Let alone think “Wow, she’s running slow.”
In the past, I would be very bothered if I saw a mile split slower than 8:15. To hear myself say that now actually sounds so crazy! You can’t go full throttle all of the time. You just can’t. It’s not good for your body, it’s not good for recovery and you’ll just end up injured. Trust me, I know.
Today, my first mile was 9:13 and I am more than happy with that. Finally I’ve learned the difference between easy and hard runs. I’ve found consistency, which I think is key to being a successful runner, and I’ve found a balance. The only person I have to prove anything to is myself and just by simply letting go and enjoying running for all that it is, I have reached a level I never thought possible.
I remember during the Boston 2012 marathon having the thought, soon before I dropped out, that OMG I’m running so slow and I told everyone I was going to run a sub 3:20. They are going to think I’m such a failure. This year, no matter what time I finish in for Boston, I only care about my thoughts. After all, those are the only ones that matter.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,
(And on a side note, I actually got in 60.42 miles last week. I think that’s a first!)