Monday, April 30, 2012

I ran...

It is probably no secret to most of you that motivation has eluded me for months. I can trace it back to the post-marathon blues of the Marine Corps Marathon. I tried running through them. I even scheduled another marathon to try to avoid them...but nothing worked.

Since January I've been through peaks and valleys in running, and some days I thought I was "back". Unfortunately, I could never shake them. Today ends perhaps the worst month of training that I think I've ever had in just shy of 3 years of running. Prior to today I've had 5...yes FIVE workouts all month long. I last ran on Sunday morning April 15th, and when I walked home, I honestly didn't care if I ever ran again.

I have pulled myself away from the running community...isolated myself from the "rah-rah" tweets and blogs. Everything I heard about motivation, everything I've ever heard or said simply did not work. It was never "I can't do this.." it was "I have no desire to do this.."

So I resolved to just stop...until the regained the desire to run again.

It's funny how that some people can spot things about you that you can't even see yourself. Some brave souls even tell you to your face, and you deny deny deny..

I thought I just loved running. I thought I loved the sport, the activity, everything about it. Some people saw my running for what it was. Only a couple of people had the courage to tell me to my face. They'd say, "Randy, I think you're running as a coping mechanism to deal with your mom's illness and death." I'd say "That's ridiculous. "I started running for my health, then just fell in love with it."

I'm convinced the human brain can convince itself of anything. I was convinced that they were wrong.

Since mom's passing I've gone through quite a journey of self-discovery, and after a few months with some counseling I'm beginning to see that those people were right. Although I don't miss my mom any less, the "toxic fuel" of grieving has run its course. So in order to find my motivation, I need to find a new fuel source.

Now what? I still don't desire to run.

A good friend of mine that I've met through DailyMile contacted me because he was concerned about not seeing me post any workouts. I shared with him my issues regarding lack of motivation, and he gave me a bit of advice that's been rolling around in my head for a couple of weeks. He said,
Don't wear a watch or worry about times or splits, just go out and have a chat with God and see what happens..
For probably a week after he sent the email, every time I thought about it, I reasoned that there was NO WAY I could run without a watch. How would I keep up with the miles on my shoes? How would I know how many miles I was running a week? How would I see any improvement in my pace?

You get the idea.

I'm realizing that I've painted myself into a box. The box that says I run at a certain pace,  The box that tracks how many miles I've done this week, this month, this year. The box that keeps us with how many races I've done. The box that defines my goals, aspirations and says what success looks like. This mental score card says how I stack up against YOU, and it is unmercifully critical of myself. I am what the box says I am.

I don't want to be defined by numbers, by stats, by accolades or the admiration of peers. I don't want to be trapped in this box anymore. Can I free myself from it to ultimately find out...Who am I allowed to be?

That's why I ran today.  It was 86 degrees at 5:15pm. I ran in the heat. I ran after work. I ran with no watch. I ran with no expectation of what route I would take. I ran with no regard of how far I would go. I ran with no regard of how long it would take.

I simply ran. I ran fast when I felt like running fast. I ran slow when I felt like running slow. I even took a walk break or two. I have no idea how far or how fast I went, but it was perhaps one of the most cathartic workouts that I've ever done.

I make no promises for tomorrow, next week or the next week. All I know is, today...I ran.


OtterPop said...

I am so glad to see this post, and that you ran, and that you have been doing more soul searching to figure things out. I was wondering what was going on, too, but figured that, like with lots of other folks I know, life just gets in the way sometimes when it comes to running and other similar things.

After having lost my own motivation to run back in the fall because of repeated foot issues and a lack of improvement no matter what I did for a very long time, I saw this picture that was about precisely what your "box" statement is about. It was a picture of a runner with all of these words around him (in the box!). It made me realize I was measuring myself against time, against statistics, and against others, and that doing so was also causing me to constantly fight an even bigger enemy: Myself. So, I stopped running with a watch, too. I don't run regularly right now, but I run when I feel like it. I've since put the watch back on, but I pay less attention to it. And I can vouch that doing this is one of the best things that one can do for themselves when fights like this are going on inside.

I am so glad to see that you're still out there, and that you felt like running yesterday. I hope you feel like running again soon -- for YOU.

Erica Beck said...

This was a great post. I'm training for my first half marathon so I'm motivated. When I learned that GPS doesn't work where I live, I was bummed. But now that I've got a lot of training weeks behind me, I think it's good that I don't have GPS. I roughly track my time per mile, but I don't have the ability to watch my pace or anything like that. It allows me more to focus just on running and let the time be what it will be - something that I think is right for me at this point. Thanks for the great post!

Stacey said...

Love this post, and so great of you to be doing the mental and physical stretching in your life right now.

I went from doing ~12 road races a year to barely having the time to run all year last year, but coincidentally I kinda got up one January 2012 morning and just left. I don't even have a running watch that works. It wasn't until about two weeks ago when you mentioned MapMyRun that I started doing any sort of tracking, and couldn't believe I was back to a good pace and good miles without knowing. But I still don't enter in a route... I see where the road takes me.

Looking forward to hearing how you enjoy and motivate to following your own pulse now and then :-)

David H. said...

Nice to see a post from you. The highs and lows of running are so extreme, and I've been down that road of avoiding all things running. Your friend who recommended just running without anything is a wise one. You'll find the motivation again - just don't look for it. Like you've already done, just run.

Kase Noland said...

When I was in high school and in peak physical condition, I'd go out running most mornings. Nearly every morning my mother would already be awake as I was lacing my shoes on. She would always remind me as I was heading out the door, "What's it going to be today? Are you running towards something or are you running away?"

Above most everything my mother has said to me over the years, this has stuck. Every day you have a choice, whether it's actual running or just living life, run with a direction in mind. Today my direction is health, calm and solitude. Tomorrow, who knows.