I would love this post to be a step by step instruction manual that follows through on the title of it. Unfortunately, I seem to be cursed in this particular sport. Back in April, I ran my first running race with the Race to Wrigley 5k. At that point, I considered myself a mediocre runner – I was able to finish the race without stopping, though my time was nowhere near what I’ve heard other people say is good for them. Although I know a lot of people believe that comparing yourself to others, particularly when it comes to fitness is a bad idea … I can’t help it – how else am I to judge where to set the bar? I take other factors into consideration as well – consistency in my ability to tackle distance and the speed at which I am able to do so. Perhaps my standards are correlative to the time I spend training, but I feel as though I have plateau’d or perhaps even slid back a bit in terms of my capabilities.
I’ve considered other circumstances as well. The temperature, running inside versus outside, what time of day it is, the ever-declining state of my running shoes, which I have yet to replace though I claimed I would. Perhaps what I eat beforehand should be contemplated or I’m not hitting an adequate volume of water.
Clearly this is a topic to which I’ve devoted a lot of time and energy. This post is not meant to be gloomy or pessimistic, although I could understand it being read that way. It’s really meant to be more reflective in the hopes that I might uncover some deep-seeded truth that will help me in my quest to become the stronger, more confident runner I seek to be. I’m not sure I have quite accomplished that goal at this point (which is probably best, because then what would I challenge myself with?), but I have come to some realizations.
-I will never be the runner I want to be. One of the reasons I obsess about running is because it is one element of fitness that constantly challenges me and frustrates me. Throughout my life, my most triumphant moments have come after periods of vexation. I could just throw my hands up and admit, “I’m not a runner – why should I try to be?” but where would the fun and vindication be in that?
2. Looking back on the last time I thought intensely about this subject in March, I have come a long way emotionally and mentally in my approach to running. I no longer shy away from doing it – last week when I was on lifting hiatus, I ran almost every day, covering a little over ten miles cumulatively by the end of the week. I no longer shudder when setting my alarm clock for an early morning run or cringe when someone gets on the treadmill next to me. Though I do roll my eyes, because HONESTLY there are a zillion treadmills open … you have to pick the one next to me?
3. My goals are too scattered. I’m thinking about time, distance, breathing, consistency…I need to pick one thing, measure it every time I run and keep all the other factors invariable to truly see if progress is being made.
4. As usual, I need to be more patient. This isn’t a strong suit of mine, but looking back at that blog entry from March, I haven’t been incorporating running as a regular activity in my life for that long. I’ve vowed to chill out (Dan will be happy to hear that!) and cut myself a little slack. I need to remember to give myself credit for getting out there on a regular basis and keeping up with a workout routine (quick pat myself on the back moment: I have been working out with my current regularity for three years now – my longest run at it since I played soccer!)
Thanks for listening, anyone who didn’t cut out halfway through 🙂