This past Saturday, I ran a marathon FOR FUN.
When you say you are running a race for fun often other people/runners assume that means you have no goals OR that you half a$$ed your training in some way. That you aren’t really choosing to run for just the fun of it, that you are being forced to JUST run for fun.
I’ve been training for my spring marathons since December. I have put in countless hours on the roads, spent numerous hours in my basement lifting weights, I have watched what I have eaten and tried to slowly stop enjoying as many nights out. I have worked on my emotional well being, my marriage, my relationship with my children as well as my relationships with friends.
All of that has paid off. I’m at a really good spot in life right now. I’m happy. I’m healthy. I wake up excited for what every day will bring. I have low days, but I know how to fight my way through them. That is not half a$$ing anything. That in my eyes is working harder than I ever have.
I’m not usually a fan of comparisons, the worst being comparing your old self to your current self. This is terrible in two ways.
If you believe that your former self was in some way better – better being unique to your ideas of better – then it can get you down.
I could for example beat myself up and say, wow Dorothy you weigh 17 pounds more than you did 4 years ago. You haven’t come close to your marathon PR since 2013. You are getting older by the minute and no longer do people tell you that you look like such a baby for having three kids.
I could compare myself to my old self that had social anxiety, weighed over 13 pounds more than I do now, was depressed, did hurtful things to others because she was hurting inside, and was generally not really that nice of a person. See, even in my comparison, I’m beating myself up. I’m hating who I was, even though who I was made me who I am today.
In going back and reading some of my races recaps, okay a lot of race recaps, I started to notice an underlying theme. I wasn’t happy. Each and every time I raced I wanted a PR, needed a PR, because that is what REAL runners do. They work hard and the only way to see that hard work is by faster times on a clock. Right?
Yet as I coached runners, I would repeatedly tell them it wasn’t about the time. That improvement is not always measured by a time on the clock. That you can train your butt off and be in really, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY good looking shape 😉 and not perform on that day as you wanted. When you race, the day is going to bring you what the day is going to bring you. Your fitness plays a part but it’s not the whole story.
It was lost on me that the times I was running were times that I really should have been proud of. That I had come from running 11/12 minute miles and so to be able to run almost half of that average pace for a significant period of time was actually incredible. Imagine for a moment if you run 13 minute miles if I told you that one day you would be able to run 7 minute miles for 10 miles. Would you think that was amazing?
Last night I read my recap from Army Ten Miler a couple of years back. In reading it the emotional pain I felt resurfaced immediately. I remember feeling so defeated that day. I also remember my husband saying to me, two months ago this time would have made you so happy, it’s only because you ran one race faster that this isn’t enough for you.
The recap not only made me sad, but it made me feel sick.
There was NO JOY. Even the fact that I was concerned about putting a disclaimer that my thighs have cellulite makes me sad. Did I really think that was the only thing people would notice and analyze in that post? My self worth was tied up in numbers – the time on the clock – the number on the scale.
My self worth isn’t tied to a number anymore. I am enough.
Related: 50 Life Lessons Learned On The Run
Saturday, JOY was oozing out of me. I ran a marathon for fun because you know what, I love running. Maybe one day I’ll run a PR, maybe one day I won’t. I’m still a real runner and will be for life. I have goals, lots of them, but I no longer think that running for fun and having goals are mutually exclusive.
If I love the marathon distance should I only run it when I know that my body is capable of running a sub 3:11 or should I run them no matter how fast I can move because running marathons makes me really happy inside?