In this world of PRs and BQs, I am realizing that I might have to face the current truth about myself: I just don’t have the competitive spirit these days when it comes to running. The truth is that when I started running a little over five years ago, I liked pushing myself, training hard and trying to set personal records each time I raced. Even as recently as 2013, I set a PR in every distance. I was fueled by the burn of a hard workout and the feeling of racing at my peak, even though I’ve never been a fast runner.
Today I’m in a different place in my life. I’m not sure if it’s a function of the recent upheaval in my life — changing jobs, back surgery, and getting married — or if it is simply that my relationship with running has changed. I just don’t feel the same fire fueling my runs these days. What I do feel is a strong love of easy runs. I love my very relaxed marathon training plan, although I realize that by definition, marathon training plans are not exactly relaxed. I’m loving the feel of my feet on the pavement and the sun on my shoulders, no matter how fast or slowly I’m running that day.
I think running serves different purposes for us at different times. There have been times where it was a great source of entertainment, an even better excuse to travel, a solid distraction from relationship problems, and an outlet for extra energy that could only be burned off by a hard run. Running has allowed me to give my best effort and reap the results. It has also allowed me to relax, have fun and just relish in the sport for what it is for me right now— a fun way to stay healthy, spend time with my friends, and enjoy life.
Maybe I’ll find that competitive fire again and start pushing myself to train harder and faster. But I’m coming to terms with the fact that it might not happen. When I think about running my “best,” it no longer means running my fastest (although if that happened along the way, that would be great). Instead, it means running towards the best version of myself and truly appreciating this activity for what it is: fuel for the fire of my entire life.