I have been a “training for” person as long as I can remember. I have always had a race I was training for. It might be a month away or it might be six months away, but there was always something. For a variety of reasons, I have decided to take a step back from racing this summer. After running the Dopey Challenge in January, I decided my body (and mind) needed a break from crazy distance running. I am still running, but not marathon (or honestly even half marathon) distance training runs at the moment.
This transition has been way more difficult mentally than I anticipated. It is very strange to not have a date (or several) circled on my calendar as a “goal race.” I often find myself lacking all motivation. Why bother running if I’m not training for anything? Thankfully, as the weather has gotten nicer I am reminded that I do genuinely love running and was (mostly) just burnt out on the treadmill after doing some really loooooooong training runs on it during November and December. (I do not recommend a 20-miler on a treadmill. Just sayin’!) A couple times this year I have done something that a year ago would have been unthinkable to me – I went out for a run with no Garmin. I had some concept of my distance because I know the routes in my neighborhood, but I paid no attention to pace. I just ran because it felt good to be running.
In the past week I have started to find even more motivation to run. I realized I have “lost it” and this makes me very, very unhappy. Last week I went out on a short run and a formerly easy pace felt challenging. On Saturday we had a “run test” at work where our students testing for their black belt in two weeks had to do a 1.5 mile run as part of the fitness component of their test. I decided to take a “dry run” of the course on Friday afternoon to make sure it was all set for them. While my pace was actually decent for me right now, it was really not what I would like it to be (or anywhere close to where it was a year ago). My “last straw” was this morning. Our boot camp class was running through a timed workout which required us to do as many reps as possible in a set time. The weight was not heavy. This should not have been as hard as it was, but I totally bombed it. In each of these cases this week, I could easily point to an “excuse.” My allergies are awful today, my 1.5 miles was done late in the day after a heavy leg day, and my “easy run” was also done after I did a lot of reps of heavy cleans. But at the end of the day they really are excuses. Because there was a point in time that even with those things I would have done a lot better than I did this week. Back to cardio for me it is! As much as I hate to “fail,” I think I needed this week to give me a swift kick in the butt. I needed motivation that was not in the form of a goal race. I plan to do some smaller, local races this summer if I feel like it. And I definitely plan to take on the marathon again at some point. But for now, I will work to “self motivate” my runs.
The lack of running motivation started to carry over into all motivation a month or two ago. I was really burnt out on the gym. I was showing up out of pure habit, not because I wanted to be there. But then something clicked. I started to realize I needed to be there. It was my happy place again. Moral of the story – don’t give up on those “bad days.” You have heard both Missy and myself say how much we love the gym and love working out, but even we have those days.
The only bright spot to my lower mileage is that it has left we with some extra time to lift which I am loving. At some point last year I realized that I loved running and lifting pretty equally. Crazy mileage training for Dopey left me less “free” days to hit the gym. So I was taking advantage of this semi-break to have fun lifting heavy weight. I have been able to set a couple lifting PR’s in recent weeks which has given me newfound motivation to at least show up at the gym everyday!
However, as much as I love lifting, I don’t want to only be a lifter. I want to get back to being more well-rounded. I want to be able to go out and run for an hour again and not feel like I’m going to die. My plan at this point is to try to add back in one “longer” run, and one shorter day where I work at a higher intensity. In order to get this, I need to get over my “running ego” and realize that my “fast” intervals will not be what they once were. (But hopefully they will be back there sooner rather than later…)
What are YOU training for? Do you have a specific goal event this year? Does a specific goal help you stay motivated?