As many people know, I have had a bad year so far in terms of running. My training has been terribly inconsistent and I only ran one race so far in 2015. I have gone from being very upset to angry and mad to focusing on other things to finally, as of this very moment, happy about how things have been going. That may seem crazy to anyone who has been following my blog since December–I assure you I am not crazy. I just think that I have become a better person and a better athlete as a result of all of this. I know that probably doesn’t make any sense so let me try to explain.
Within the past year I went from living and breathing running, cross country, track & field, planning runs, traveling all over the state for runs and races, racing A LOT, and being totally immersed in the running community, to having only attended 1 track meet and only running 1 race in 2015. This is a drastic change and it needed to happen. I was absolutely furious when I got sick in December and for most of 2015 I was mad about how running was going–but I am completely different now, in a good way. I am a better athlete now and I am a better person now. The runs I am doing are of a better quality. I am spending less time traveling and less time away from home. In return I have more time to actually rest, recover, and sleep. I am not doing things that I don’t want to do because I feel like I have to do them. I do not want to spend entire weekends away from home and I do not want to race every Saturday, so I am not doing those things anymore.
Running should never make you feel bad about yourself. Here is a secret, running made me feel bad about myself more times than I can count in the last year. I have unfairly been dealt a bad hand and I get migraines at any given time for no particular reason. It is the one thing in my life I feel like I have no control over and it is the one thing in my life that truly makes me hate myself. I would like to believe that I am a confident person but if I get a migraine all bets are off. It sucks the life out of me and makes me hate everything about who I am. This is the truest and most honest I have ever been when I talk about this topic. I absolutely hate myself for not being able to follow through with things I want to do, say I am going to do, or for not being able to follow a schedule as planned because I am puking and can’t see straight. When this happens, I can not run the way I want to and I can not train the way I need to and then running makes me feel bad about myself because I can’t do it. When I can’t train and everyone around me is training at such a high quality I feel bad about myself and as a result I perform poorly. This was absolutely happening last year. This week when I missed nearly an entire week of running, because of migraines, I didn’t feel that way. I survived feeling so sick and I moved on. I think taking myself out of a highly competitive situation has been a healthy choice for me. I had a great long run today, 10 miles at 7:33 pace on a slightly hilly trail. Rewind to a year ago, I wouldn’t have ran the long run after a week like this because I would have had no confidence to do it and I would have let negativity and the fact that I can’t trust my body destroy any runs or races I had in the upcoming week because I would have felt like less of an athlete. I felt unreliable and incapable of performing well. I felt like I was comparing myself to the entire running community instead of focusing on having great runs when I didn’t have migraines. Running made me feel bad about myself. I needed to stop running this winter and I needed to take a break from being super involved in the running community so that I could focus on myself as an athlete. If running is making you feel bad about yourself, you are doing it wrong.
Going forward, I plan to train and race. I do not plan to be a part of a formal organization or running club. I do want to continue training with the select few people I trust. I will not train with people who make me feel bad about myself. I will never allow running to take over my life again because when I found myself suddenly unable to run I felt like I had nothing–that isn’t a good feeling or a healthy lifestyle to have in the first place. All of this had to happen so that I could realize how flawed things were and how much of my time was invested in the wrong things. I still love running and I will never stop loving running or being involved in running but I will always remember that there is more to life than running, that I am more than just a runner, and that I can not define who I am by any amount of miles, any workout, or any race.