AGAINST THE GRIND
The most accurate way I can describe distance running is to compare it to life itself. It is a long, challenging road filled with battles to face and goals to meet. And like in life it is important not to solely focus on the outcomes but enjoy the ride along the way (easier said than done). We (runners) all know that training is important, an essential part of the success we aspire to achieve. Specifically here, I am speaking of distance running. Rather your goal is to break 2:30 in the marathon, set a pr in the 5k, or just plain finish a marathon without stopping, I think we all can relate to the fact that the life of a dedicated runner is not always so easy and can get downright frustrating at times.
The tricky part is that training hard day in and day out and working full time can prove to be an extreme challenge when things just aren’t going right. And when things aren’t going right, life and running get, well bumpy. Up until 3 weeks ago, my training had been going very well. Not perfect, but consistent, and I was definitely getting important workouts in. Long runs were getting easier and faster, legs were not speedy but able to hammer out very uncomfortable pace in workouts without much trouble. However, lately it seems to be really tough to put in the weekly mileage and hammer out solid runs. I attribute this lack of fluidity and pop in my step to one main factor. My main issue is what all runners dread. INJURY. I have been pushing through a complicated hip issue for what must be 2 or 3 years now. It will lay dormant for a month and then come back with full force for several months at a time. It’s tricky, though. Normally, I would rest, recover, let the injuries subside and begin training again healthy. The problem here is that it does not go away. I have rested, stretched, strength trained and it eventually comes back just when training seems to be running smoothly. The most complicated part is that I can train with this injury! I have been working around it forever! Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to run without those pains in my hips, and how much is it affecting me? Could I be a lot faster by now? Is it worth it to push through this discomfort day after day to reach my personal running goals?
OK, so all that being said, I do really love running. I find the euphoria of running long distances intoxicating, weaving in and out of trees on the trails comes second to none, and reaching race goals falls under the most rewarding experiences I have had. The problem is that this passion really can turn into a job if you let it. I got into running for the reasons above, but I question if I continue for the same reasons. My mind (and I am sure the minds of other runners as well) sometimes can be consumed with thoughts about PRs, workout times, weekly mileage, and comparing myself to others. Of course these thoughts are only overbearing when training isn’t going as well as you wish, when the grind becomes too much. Knowing when to take training down a notch and recover can be a much harder thing than expected. It is scary to slow down when you have been working toward a goal for so long. I realize that the fear of losing fitness can hurt a runner. With that in mind and it being a new year, I will make the “resolution” to let my body catch up and take down days or weeks if necessary. I really have used this blog to vent and share my current distress with running, so… sorry. I would like to leave on a positive note though and say that I do think running is worth it! It is the other stuff that can come along with running that isn’t worth it: the self-doubt, the comparisons to other runners, and all the other negative thoughts.
Run free; do not make it a chore! Listen to my body and do not fear rest due to thoughts of regression. These are my new goals for this year.