For the first time ever, I feel so much pressure to achieve a running goal. Some thoughts that go through my head daily…
– I have achieved so much up until this point after surgery: this would be the cherry on top
– So many people believe in me: I can’t let them down
– I put this BQ goal “out there”: I have to get it
– What if the race goes horribly wrong?
– I’ve put so much time into training and spent less time with family (#momguilt). Is this worth it?
– Why does my freaking knee hurt? Should I rest? Should I wait and run a later race?
Trying to BQ is huge for anyone. Trying to BQ for someone who isn’t a naturally fast distance runner is even harder. I am amazed at those runners who can just go out and run 7-minute miles (or faster) like it’s nothing. Running long distances, fast, does not come easy for me.
The added pressure is mostly my fault because I have always put a lot of pressure on myself to excel at anything I do. I’m a competitor. I can’t help it.
But the past few weeks, I have found myself just kind of going through the motions: getting a workout in just to log those miles. Happy that I hit the pace goals, happier to be done, but also not confident that my race in March will be a success.
If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook you saw me post this a few weeks ago:
I just had to cry. I was holding everything in for so long and it was time to let it all out. After, I felt better but it also made me remember something my amazing volleyball coach in high school said to me after a loss I took hard (I may have punched a few lockers), “No matter what you do and how hard you work: you need to have fun. If you’re not having fun, you need to assess and evaluate what is important to you.”
I am not getting paid to run (I wish!). Running is not my job. I GET to run. Running is what I love. Setting this big goal is tough but I realize I need to have fun while I am trying to achieve it. I don’t want to look back and wish I would have enjoyed the journey. Sure it is going to be frustrating at times but more times than not, it is going to be amazing and rewarding.
I’ve have thought of a few ways that I can start to have fun and relax during this training process to try to make the next seven weeks be a little less stressful. Perhaps they will help you when you feel the need to “let loose”:
While running last week I noticed when I was trying to hold an 8:15 pace I was starting to tense up. I realized I must have been doing it for a while because my shoulders and upper back were starting to hurt. I immediately shook out my arms, reminded myself to “just breathe” and just loosen up. Tensing up during a run is going to suck up all your energy!
I normally run with music and lately on my long runs I haven’t. Maybe because I start out with my Sunday Long Run Group and feel bad listening to music instead of talking to them. Music is something that always has motivated me and until now, I never realized how much it actually helps me. My gait stays quick with each song and yes, I even sing along to get my mind off of the task at hand.
Research shows just smiling can instantly make you feel better no matter how bad you feel. I know I typically have a “running bitch face” so I am going to do my best to smile every time I run just like in the picture above.
Run with a Buddy
There are days I just need to run alone but then there are other days when it’s nice to have company. I have been lucky to have many people run with me.
Find a buddy that will help you keep your pace but can also help distract you with good conversation. Or, maybe you will get lucky and have happen to you what happened to me this past Monday. Jack and I were running past the Capital when all of a sudden two members from November Project “recruited” us and we ended up running with them through a winding human tunnel. We stayed on pace. Laughed. Had fun. And still got the 1-hour run in that I needed.
I have two easy running days on my plan and instead of running, sometimes I choose to use Spinning as a way to get my cross training and endurance training in instead of pounding the pavement. Taking a class that throws in sprints, hill climbs and surges is a great way to keep your running base where it is but also give your joints a break.
There. I said it. That four-letter word no runner likes to hear. Perhaps running isn’t fun anymore because you are just burnt out. You need a break. We as runners need to realize that is OK. We are human and we all cannot be like Mike Wardian and run 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents. Oh yeah…and win them all!
Today is a complete rest day and I have to admit: I have been looking forward to it!
Taking a few days to a couple weeks to just rest and re-evaluate your goals might be just what you need to get the fun back into your run.
Try a Different Race
Maybe it’s time to stop pounding the pavement and time to get dirty on a trail! Or maybe instead of 26.2 miles you want to try an ultra race, the Cleveland Marathon Challenge Series or a Ragnar Relay (shameless plug for two races I love!).
Let. Everything. Go.
Yes, you have a goal. Yes, you want to crush that goal. But maybe, just maybe, you can let go of all that pressure. Take that weight of your shoulders and just run. That’s what I am going to try and do for the next seven weeks. This race will not make or break me. There will be more races. There will be new goals. Each day I will wake up happy that I get to run and I will smile knowing that I “left it all on the road” and am a stronger person than I was before the run.
So from here on out, I am going to find the fun in the pain. No more putting pressure on myself or panicking about what could go wrong. All I can do is do my best and have fun in the process.
How do you make running fun?