WHEN RUNNING IS HARD

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A long time ago, this used to be a running blog. You guys remember? I ran a couple marathons every month, wrote about them, and then updated you on all the ridiculous things that happened to me in between. Ahh, the good old days. As you might have noticed, I don’t write about running very much anymore. That’s not because I don’t run; it’s because I don’t run as much. I’m not really training for anything (even though I should be). I also struggle with what my running life is like now compared to what it used to be, since before I was basically almost-an-Olympian (haaaaa if Olympians are running 5 hour marathons while drinking beer) and now I’m running the occasional loop around my neighborhood with my husband.

Over the past month, I’ve struggled a lot with consistency, and to be completely honest, I feel totally out of shape right now. Granted, you could say there are good reasons for why I’ve been inconsistent – I had my gall bladder removed on February 19, and although recovery went well, it definitely took a couple of weeks before I was capable of running and working out normally. Just as I felt fully recovered, I picked up extra classes at the barre studio because one of our instructors moved, and then I went on my first solo trip. You could definitely say I’ve been busy.

And by busy I mean I’ve been hiking a lot too…oops

As a result, running feels hard right now – really hard. Sometimes, it is borderline impossible to believe that I’ve run 50 marathons! That feels like it was about 100 years ago. Part of the problem is that my next half marathon is not until May 1 – the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati! That felt like an eternity for quite awhile and now I’m all oh crap – it’s almost here.  There was a time when half marathons felt really easy, which makes sense because I was regularly running twice that distance! I’m not anymore, though, and I seem to have forgotten that. Part of my brain is still treating half marathons like they’re no big deal, but they are a big deal. 13.1 miles is a BIG DEAL.  My hubris is showing big time.

I have about a month to get my butt in gear, so I tried to do just that last Wednesday. I set out for a run with AJ and was hoping to do 5 miles. He naturally runs a bit faster than is comfortable for me (because he is a giant and also because I am sort of out of shape) and it was tough to keep up with him, which made me mad at myself. It’s also starting to get quite warm here and my body was not quite ready for all that. AJ decided to cut the run short and head home, but I stubbornly kept going, even though I felt like garbage. I got home angry at him for leaving me when I was suffering so much (as if that’s his problem) and angry at myself for letting things get to this point. Five miles should not feel hard.

Deep thoughts about how hard running is sometimes after five miserable miles

After I got over myself, I decided that it was time to start taking training seriously and build up my long runs again. Although I felt frustrated and down, I also know that it won’t take that long to get back into decent-ish running shape (and by that, I mean feeling fine at the end of a half-marathon and not like I’m going to collapse…let’s not get any crazy ideas about racing one). After all, I was fairly consistent through the winter and had a good half marathon at the Resolution Run Half Marathon. Knowing I had a plan made me feel better…and then I woke up on Thursday with horrible back pain that lasted through Sunday and totally took running out of the equation. UGH! Sometimes it’s like 1 step forward and 2 steps back right now where running is concerned. I did make it back out on Monday and did 7 very slow miles with no resulting back pain, but it was hard. It was just really, really hard.

I’m in an interesting place with my running right now. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt like I don’t  need to train for anything. Realistically , I do need to train – I have a half marathon coming up – but for the first time maybe ever, I’m running just because I want to, at whatever distance or pace I want to. That’s rather freeing, and it has confirmed for me that I do really love running and not just racing. There was a time when I thought maybe I just liked racing – the travel, the people, the medals, the whole atmosphere. Of course, I did like that stuff, but now that I don’t race very often, I know that it’s not racing I love, it’s running itself.

I hate the word “jogs,” but this is so true.

The good news is, I do feel ready to pick my training back up and devote more time to it. After years of long runs every Saturday, it has been nice to take some time away and do whatever I want on the weekends without worrying about it. I don’t know if I will truly be ready for Flying Pig, but I do know that I’ll be working towards that goal one way or another. And maybe, in a few weeks or months, running will feel just a little less hard. I can dream, right?

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