We all start running for different reasons. Some started to lose weight. Others to improve their health. Some even start to have something in common with that cute guy or girl you always see running around the neighborhood. Whatever the reason we started, most of us have continued running because it makes us happy.
But what if running (or whatever workout routine you’re doing) stops making you happy? Sometimes I feel like that’s the situation I’m in right now. In theory, I love running. It has been an amazing part of my life and led to new experiences, friends, and exploring things I didn’t know my body was capable of doing. But since my back surgery, I’ve had a rough time coming back to running. Why? I let myself get influenced by what everyone else is doing.
Here’s what I mean: all of your friends are training for a marathon (or a half-marathon) but you really like the 10k. You don’t really feel a need or desire to bump up the distance, but you don’t want to miss out on what the group is doing or the time your friends are spending together. So you decide to train too. It’s easy to get caught up in the current trends that sweep the running community from time to time (mud run, anyone?), and feel bad when they simply don’t interest you. Then worse when you try to participate anyway. That’s where I’m at right now. I really missed my friends and wanted to jump back into the swing of things after my surgery, so I started training again right away. Not just any training—marathon training. I bought a plane ticket, registered for a race, and made arrangements. But you know what? My heart isn’t in it.
I said it. As much as I love running, I’m not quite mentally ready for marathon training. I wanted to run 26.2 because that is what everyone else was doing, but it’s not what I really want to be doing. Right now, the runs that are making me happiest are half marathon distance or less. It may be because my body isn’t back to where it should be to fully buy-in to marathon training. But it also may be because in the past few months, my perspective has shifted to more of a health focus than a run ALL the races focus. While I know I will have a great time running the race with my friends, I should have listened to my gut and not jumped in just because everyone else was doing it.
It’s taken me awhile to admit to myself that I’m not as enthusiastic about the marathon distance as I used to be, for whatever the reason may be. It makes me feel like—dare I say it—less of a runner than I used to be because that passion just isn’t there, which is silly. I’m more interested now in runs that make me feel good about myself. It does not matter their pace or distance. I try to feel good regardless of how many miles I ran (or didn’t run) that week. Pressure takes all of the fun out of running, and for the most part, I believe running should be fun. I should be running the distances or speeds I desire because I want to, not because everyone around me is doing it. While I anticipate that it’s only a matter of time before the desire to train for marathons will come back, for now, I’m focusing on doing what I love—whatever it is that day.