Let’s talk about running, shall we? After all, it’s on the headline of my blog here.
I was running a lot when I started blogging regularly. And then last fall I sort of…stopped. I still ran some, and then I tapered off, I ran a few more races I’d signed up for, and felt like a huge failure during them, and then in February…well, I just stopped entirely. Then I did the half marathon in April, and after that I felt like a huge weight had been lifted, and the weather got nice, and suddenly I find myself back on the running wagon. (It’s not really a wagon, as that wouldn’t be running, but you probably understand the analogy.)
So what happened?
I was thinking about this today on my run. It’s a beautiful day today, and that certainly helps me want to go run. But it’s more than that.
I’d been feeling like a failure because I wasn’t able to run as well as I had the year before. I’d been feeling like a failure because I had talked about running a marathon and then that just…fell through. And I’d been feeling like a general failure in life and career and all that nonsense.
The problem, I realized, was that I had been comparing myself to well…myself. I generally don’t compare myself to others, at least with physical activity, because I am kind of BAD at physical activities. But my thought process is generally, that’s okay, because I’m trying, and because I’m improving. But when I stopped improving, due to injury, being busy, and then laziness…I started to really feel like a loser. Which is a problem and a bad cycle: you feel like a loser for being bad at something that you are bad at because you aren’t doing it, and then you keep not doing it and therefore get worse…and feel worse. It’s hard to break that!
So what turned it around for me? These past three weeks of running have been fantastic, and I’m back to my old self of, hey, get your butt out the door, do the run, it’ll be hard and then you’ll be done and feel great…and that’s working just wonderfully!
I think a few things helped: one was realizing that I was still making really great gains at the gym with lifting. So I wasn’t a total failure at exercise, just running. And I realized I just needed to start over. Rather than going out and feeling like a failure, I decided to start fresh. I downloaded Runkeeper on my phone and a program called Couch to 10k and just got started. That’s the key—just get out the door and do it. Stop sitting on the couch feeling sorry for yourself, and go.
I’ve always been a slow runner and I love walk breaks. I know that I would like to have less walk breaks and run a little faster, and the program is pushing me. It tells me when to walk and when to run, and I follow it. Today I had to run two intervals of three minutes, and two intervals of five minutes. It sucked, and by the end I thought I was going to throw up…and I didn’t. And I feel FANTASTIC right now. Plus each time I finish a workout I get a little check mark, so I feel like each run is an accomplishment, and I can tell I’m improving.
Right now my goal race is the 80’s 5k in June (which I totally registered for today, woo hoo!), and my plan is to be ready to run the whole darn thing. I will be, if I follow the program, because I’ll be running further than that by then.
Of course I’m still comparing myself to myself, but I’m not gunning for a 5k PR. I am gunning for a 2013 PR and I’m mainly just planning to keep improving, and most importantly, keep feeling good about myself.
Moral of story: if you stop running, when you start again, it is really hard. And that’s okay. Stop judging yourself.
And it’s important to take a lot of self portraits, so people know you went for a run. Also it is important is to buy new running clothes that fit and you feel good in 🙂