I will be the very first person to admit that I have been a wreck lately. Ever since I couldn’t run at xc nationals in December my emotions have been out of control. Despite what people think, not being able to do this race was a very traumatizing experience for me. We all perceive things differently and we all handle things differently–I perceived this as traumatizing and I haven’t been handling it well even if I appear to be handling it well on the surface. Not being able to run a race I had trained very hard for was one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced. Maybe that is pathetic, I don’t know, but it was very important to me and no one likes to see their hard work go to waste. I know I can not change this situation and I know there is nothing I can do but move forward. With knowing this, that doesn’t mean I am supposed to pretend it never happened and it doesn’t mean that I am not allowed to feel upset about the situation. I do believe that things happen for a reason and I do believe that I was just not meant to run that race, or most of this winter, but that doesn’t change how upset I am. I think I am still so upset because I feel pressure to move on from it and leave it in the past. I have said this before and I will say it again, I am an emotional person and I am also great at keeping my emotions inside to protect the people around me or so that I don’t burden other people. That is what has happened here. This race was so very important to me and the circumstances surrounding it were just devastating in ways no one, not even the people closest to me, will ever understand.
People say that running should be fun and react negatively when I speak about my running goals slipping away. I can’t tell you how many times over the past 3+ months I have heard someone say “running should be fun, you should run because you love it, you don’t need goals to run, why is it always about competition, etc”. I know these things are said as words of encouragement and with good intent, but let me tell you how this makes me feel….it makes me feel upset and angry–it makes me hide in my bedroom and cry. I do love running and running is fun, but I love being able to run and enjoy it. I like training. I don’t enjoy leisurely running, I enjoy working hard, feeling sore, competing (during and after the race, not before), and having a purpose as an athlete. I don’t see the point in doing something if you don’t have an end goal or a purpose. This is just my personal opinion, I am not saying my beliefs are correct but they are correct for me. If I can not have those aspects of the sport then I don’t want to run at all because I won’t be doing something I love, it won’t be fun, and I will feel like I have no purpose as an athlete. I never do anything without purpose or reason and I always have goals.
I am also sick of being sick. That may never change, and with that being said I am running a race this weekend while I am physically in the worst shape of my life. I am running a race because that is what I need to do right now. Do I think it is an intelligent decision, no. Do I think I will run a decent time, absolutely not! Do I think I will be less miserable, yes. Do I think this will solve my health issues, no. Do I think this will be a positive experience, yes I do. I would never tell an athlete to sign up for a race after taking 8 consecutive days off and running a grand total of 5 miles the week before, but every athlete is different. I know myself as an athlete and as a person far better than anyone else does, so I am going to run a race and see how it goes. I just want to run a race.
Despite everything I just said, I am, on some level, happy that I wasn’t able to train or race this winter. I know this makes no sense…..but it does. I have been able to spend time doing other things and focusing on graduate school. I channelled all of my energy into grad school the last 11 weeks, I mean 2-8 hours daily. I put everything I had into it this quarter and If I get anything less than an A in any of my classes I will not be happy. I am tired of putting everything I have into things and getting terrible results. For once I invested everything I had into the right thing, myself and my own success–the only things I can control. Maybe I am hard on myself with the goals that I have but I believe this is why I am successful.
Since running hasn’t been great lately I have been more appreciative of the days I have been able to run and the good runs I have had. I was able to spend more time enjoying the holidays, except St. Patrick’s day because I forgot about that until part of the day was over. I went shopping a few times and bought new clothes. I finished decluttering my office. I learned a lot about myself. I started doing Yoga again. I did a lot of small things that will eventually help me achieve my ultimate career goals. Lastly, I learned that I am more than just a runner and if I am going to be a runner I need to be a runner by my own definition.
Everyone has their struggles and every runner has a story. The best advice I can give other runners is to be your own definition of a runner and to run for your own reasons. Love the sport in your own way and allow running to bring you happiness anyway it can.