This has not been my best week. After running a great 10k last Saturday in Ohio, I just haven’t been myself since. I drove home to Buffalo on Sunday, with every intention of jumping right back into my routine of running 4 days a week, around 20 miles a week. But since I’ve been back, I have only been out for one run, and I had to force myself to do that. My legs have been sore and cramping, and I have felt exhausted. I try to justify part of my listlessness to the windy, rainy and unseasonably cold weather we have had this week. Or maybe this 50-year-old body just needed a break. Instead of accepting a few days off, though, I have been experiencing major guilt. Why couldn’t I make myself get up and get running? Why couldn’t I go for a run when I got home from work? How much weight am I gaining by not running these few days? With the guilt came crankiness and difficulty sleeping, both of which make it even more difficult to lace up and get out the door.
The funny thing is, I didn’t start running two years ago to lose weight, nor to run a million miles a week. I ran because I was always told I couldn’t run. I ran because I want to be around to play with my future grandchildren. It is a bonus that I have lost 55 lbs. and generally have a more positive outlook on the future. It is a bonus that at my last physical, my doctor said I was so healthy I only need to have physicals every other year. It is a bonus that after seeing my success, both of my sisters have taken up running, and even though we live in different parts of the country, we either travel to run together, or do virtual runs on the same day so it is like we are running together. It is a bonus that my pace continues to improve (although I won’t ever be breaking any records). It is a bonus to run races with my 19 year old daughter, and have her tell me how proud she is of me.
So what’s the problem? The problem is, I started taking running too seriously. I have a husband, children, family, friends, a full-time job and a house, all that need my attention. Running is supposed to be time for me to get away, think, clear my head, be alone. Sometimes when I run, I am so happy I sing along with my music. Sometimes when I run, I laugh because I am scared of the geese on the path. Sometimes when I run, I cry because I am thinking about how much I miss my daughters, or about family members who have passed away. Sometimes when I run, I am in awe of the scenery and wildlife that surround me. Sometimes when I run, I am dreaming about my next race and how great I will feel completing it.
And that’s it. Time to get back to basics. Time to run because I want to, not because I have to. Time to put aside the guilt and associated bad mood, and embrace the joy and associated positive mood. Time to stop resenting the time it takes to run, and be thankful that I can. Life is short – do what you love!