run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

State of the Union.

I wouldn't exactly call it a funk... It's more of the winter-time fed up with the freaking icy sidewalks, the bonechilling wind, and the fact that 90% of my mileage is logged in complete and utter darkness that is stealing my mojo.

It happens every year at this time. And I'm trying hard to remember that and to cut myself some slack right now. But, let's be honest folks... the sub 4:00 Marathon in less than two months? Um... Yeah, that ship has sailed for a warmer climate, no doubt. And it kinda feels like it packed up my motivation and took it on the trip as well.

This morning, after my morning run, after I had realized that the 3:59 marathon was a pipe dream this time around, I started to think about what my deal was. I spent so much time getting a training plan together, I was excited about incorporating new workouts to my daily runs. What happened? It's not solely the weather or the darkness.

And then I realized it... my heart isn't in it.

It is time to admit something to myself. Something that is hard for me to admit, because it's embarrassing and it makes me feel weak and like less of an athlete... But, I'm 31 for chrissakes... it's time to own up to who I am and stop trying to fit into a mold that I think I'm supposed to fit into.

The truth is... I honestly don't give a shit if I ever run a 3:59 marathon.

There, I said it.

I love to run. I really, really do. I love the freedom. I love being able to lace up my shoes and step out the door and feel the wind on my face and breathe fresh air deep into my lungs. I love the way it has made me appreciate my body and take care of my body like I never have before. I love running long distances and I've always loved training for a race. The motivation to log the miles has never been an issue. Running is what I do. It's a part of who I am. And it always will be.

The issue is the fact that running is also a sport. It's a competition. And with that comes expectations.

I'm not a competitive person. I grew up playing golf and tennis and I enjoyed them a LOT. I loved being outside, I loved interacting with kids that didn't go to my school. It was great... until I turned 12 or so. I can remember being in the car on the way to a golf match and praying for a round of violent thunderstorms to sweep through. This would happen every week. Seriously. I had such anxiety over matches. It's the reason I quit playing tennis... At some point... you're expected to move on from lessons and camps and workshops to competitions. And I did that in tennis. For one match. And then I quit. I never really understood the concept. I mean... I don't give a shit if I can beat you or not. Honestly, sometimes I feel kinda bad when I beat people (mainly because, heh, I am NOT good). What does your game have to do with mine?? I'm out there doing the best I can and it's supposed to be fun, right? I stuck it out with golf. Thinking that it was good for me to be pushed out of my comfort zone. Plus, some of the guys on the golf team were WAY hot. (And now... that there's no competition involved, I absolutely LOVE golf! of course!).

And it sucks. It really, really sucks to not be competitive. Because everything is about winning. And if you don't care about winning, then you must not be passionate about it. Right? That's what everyone tells us to believe. If you aren't trying to win, trying to do your absolute best, then something is wrong with you. I mean, that's just Unamerican!

And now... five years after becoming a runner, I realize, I've fallen into the same damn trap again. Running can't be just about getting out there and feeling alive, doing something good for your body, and enjoying something that you love... Noooooooooo. It has to be about running farther and faster and making it to Boston and placing in your age group.

So, every time I sign up for a marathon... I feel like, okay... I have to have a goal. I have to PR, I have to do this or that. But, to be honest, it's not because I WANT to do that. I'll be just as happy running a 5:30 marathon as I would be a 3:59. And I honestly mean that. I just feel all this outside pressure from society that I'm supposed to be constantly seeking some kind of time improvement with each race.

W.T.F? When have I ever cared what the hell society expects of me? So, why now??? Why with running??  Where was that kool-aid and when the hell did I take such a big ass gulp of it??? How did I get so wrapped up in all this bullshit? It causes me to not enjoy certain races, it causes me to be uptight and put too much pressure on myself, and it causes me to procrastinate in my training (um. like every training cycle)... to give myself an excuse when I don't reach the goal.

And of course... now I realize why I love the idea of ultra marathons... No one gives a shit how fast you ran 32 miles.

It all makes sense.

So, from now on... I'm going to try to be true to myself and stop worrying about how fast I run. Because, for me, that's not what keeps me hitting the pavement day after day. I wish it was. I wish I was one of those people that has a natural drive to excel at everything that I do. But, thats not me. I'm just a runner who is passionate about getting out there, clearing my head, getting to know people and my environment, soaking up the sun, and getting my heart pumping. I love running races because I love the energy of a group of people who are all passionate about the same thing. Not because I want to PR.

There. I've admitted it to myself and now to all of you and I actually feel good about it. Sure, it's still a bit embarrassing that I don't have the competitive spirit that athletes have... but, at the very least I'm no longer trying to make myself into someone that I'm not.

My name is Amy and I'm still a runner. Even if I don't ever PR in another race, or even if I do... I am not going to judge myself against a clock again, for good or bad.


Chris said...

Best post ever. Should be required reading for every runner. We aren't all chasing a BQ.

Amy, you are my hero.

Melanie said...

Girl, I love it.

Karen said...

So true. I am not all that competitive myself. I like to win but if I don't it is not the end of my world. I did the Goofy Challenge in January. Part of me was worried that people would think it was a cop out to do the Galloway (run walk) for this race. In the end, I decided I didn't care... It is your sport, do what it takes to make you happy.

flarunner said...

There's a difference between winning and doing the best that you can do. You need to do what's good for you.

Carina said...

I'm dealing with some similar frustration. I got my BQ, which was my goal. And I signed up for the race and got into a training group for which you have to qualify. And now I'm realizing, my goal was to BQ and run it -- but I don't give a shit what my time is there! I just want to have done it. In 3:30, in 4:00, in 5:00, in 6:00. Don't care. Not working well to have a coach who expects me to care. So I'm trying to fake caring for 2 more months, then I'm with you -- 100% going for fun and enjoying it. Which sometimes will mean going fast but not always, and won't guarantee me any PRs.

reedrunner said...

That was an enjoyable read. I've just got a place in my first half marathon for 5 years (since having baby). Wasn't ever any good at it. My best time was 2hrs 2mins. Obviously, you can see there's a barrier there that
I want to break, but I daren't admit it! If I can't admit it - do I really want to break the 2 hrs (at the age of 42)? Am I too scared of failure? Don't know, but your post has thrown up some interesting points. I'm blogging the whole 6 months preparation though.
Just found your blog. Going to read some more of it now.

LAPT said...

Amyyyyyy I miss you and your kickass posts. I tagged you today with a cheesy blog award to sucker you into posting again soon... did it work?