Runners Tell All Linkup #3

As I sat down to write this post, I thought back to all of the bad training runs I've had, and even a few bad races, and wondered how I was ever going to choose just one to share today.

I could tell you about the time that I ran my first half marathon and had an asthma attack (among other issues) right smack in the middle. I could tell you how disappointed yet totally proud of myself I was that day. I could tell you how I didn't train for that race properly, and how I learned to follow a training plan. I could tell you about the many places I've had to make emergency bathroom stops. I could tell you the number of times I've had my husband come pick me up because there were no bathrooms in sight. I could tell you how, despite all of these times, I still sometimes break my number one rule: Don't leave the house for a run without going to the bathroom first! I could tell you about running around a track in 100 degree heat, and how I learned to become a morning runner. 

But then it dawned on me that, while I've learned things from all of those experiences, I'm going through a bad training experience right now - and the lesson I need to learn from it might be the biggest (and hardest) of all. 

For me, running has always been like climbing a ladder. I love the Couch to 5k program and can say with 99% certainty that without it, I would never have become a runner, but I think it taught me to view running in this way. Ever since I started, I have always had two-fold goals: accomplishing the task at hand today, while looking ahead at what I can accomplish tomorrow. A 5k led to a 10k which led to a half marathon which led to a full marathon which led to turning right around for another full marathon...I'm finally starting to see what a slippery slope I've been going down. And it's going so fast now that I'm afraid I can't stop. 

This weekend it all came to a head and I had a little bit of a meltdown (I know, people in the world are starving, and I'm flipping out over running). I kept telling myself and everyone I knew that after I ran a marathon, I was going to do a half Ironman triathlon. So, after I ran my first marathon (and then a second), with about 12 weeks to get ready for the 70.3, I dove into yet another training plan. I'm 4 weeks into that plan and this weekend I finally had to admit to myself that my heart just isn't in it right now. Training right now feels like a burden. I don't want to spend 3 hours on a Sunday riding my bike and then swimming for an hour. I just don't. I want to be excited about the training process and working toward a new goal. I don't want to see it as just another wrung on the ladder.

I'm still a little uneasy about this revelation. It does feel freeing, knowing I haven't tied myself to a commitment I may or may not want to make. But it also feels like I've let myself down, like I've failed before I've even started. I haven't made any firm decision yet about what my plans are - but that's kind of the point. That's what I want to use this experience to work through. I pride myself on my ability to set a goal, work toward it, and reach it - but the downside of that is that I have no clue how to just be where I am. I have spent the last 3 years since I started running focusing on where I want to be, not where I am right now. I need to learn how to be where I am, right now, currently. I believe goals are important, but I also know that making them just for the sake of making them is unrealistic and unhealthy. I almost want don't want to do the race I planned on doing, just so I can prove to myself that I don't have to. That the world will continue to spin even if, for whatever reason, even if it's by choice, I don't complete a half Ironman on June 15.

For me, being at a crossroads like this, not knowing where to go or what to do next, that's the true hardship of running (and triathlon) for me. The hard runs, the bad runs, the downright awful runs...they come and go. More often than not, a good run can come in and erase all memory of a bad one. Sometimes all you need is to find a port-a-potty! It's that simple. Learning to find balance, though...that's not as easy of a fix. This time, rather than putting my head down and continuing to move forward, I'm committed to taking a step back and really evaluating what I want to do and why I want to do it. I know this probably wasn't the type of experience Amanda intended for today's topic, but it's where I'm at right now and I doubt I'm the only one who's ever been through this. It was more important to me to keep it real and hope someone can relate!