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Chicago

When I started running, the goal was to complete. It didn’t matter how long a run or race took me. What mattered was that I covered the distance. As I moved up in distance and ultimately settled on 26.2 as my favorite, it no longer became about completing the distance. The goal became how fast I could run it. Hours upon hours were spent doing something I loved…until one day it felt like a chore.

I was still doing something I loved but I felt this little internal voice inside of me saying, “You have to go for this run- OR ELSE.” Or else you won’t meet your goal. Or else you will ruin this training cycle. Or else you may let someone down. Or even worse- let yourself down. It turned two things I loved- running and running a fast-for-me pace- into something that felt like a job instead of something I did for the pure joy of it.

For this reason I relaxed and let go of the “or else” part of training. I started by listening only to my body. If I wanted to run, I did. If I wanted to do a workout, I did. If I wanted to run longer than I knew I probably should, I did. If I felt off that day, I ran less than I thought I was supposed to. This approach allowed me to get rid of stress and get back to what I loved in my core- to run. This didn’t mean I ran any less, or that I stopped having goals. Quite the opposite. Since that ”or else moment” I hit an all time mileage high of 92 miles, and have taken my marathon time down to the fastest I’ve ever run. Some weeks I run 7 days and do doubles. Other weeks I run only two or three times. I run what I am capable of doing or what I want to do, and let go of the stress.

This weekend, as I lined up to run Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon with thousands of runners, I started to feel a little nervous. The OR ELSE voice came back in my head. You better race this OR ELSE you are going to be seen as slow. You better move a little faster OR ELSE people are going to think you had a bad day. You better stop going out with friends and eating dinners out OR ELSE you are never going to improve.

Then a little smile rushed over me. That girl that cares about the OR ELSE is gone. I ran 13.1 miles doing something I absolutely love. It wasn’t the fastest I’ve covered that distance and it wasn’t the slowest, but I covered it with a smile on my face.

In my 30′s I’m realizing the only way to truly feel like you have it all is to embrace your life and what you believe in, not what others think it is or how it should be. I can truly say I have it all.

Comments

  1. such great words. finding freedom is an incredibly empowering experience.

  2. 92 miles a week! I just did 45 this week and felt like a boss lol.

  3. I had a discussion recently with someone about what age I’d be if I could chose – past, present or future. I said 30, and I think those last 2 sentences you wrote pretty much epitomize why. :)
    I think I’m slowly getting towards that mindset with each passing year, embracing my nerdy, running, pale, quiet, etc. self – but I imagine it will continue to get easier with each year to become more happy with where I am and what I’m doing in my life.

  4. “In my 30′s I’m realizing the only way to truly feel like you have it all is to embrace your life and what you believe in, not what others think it is or how it should be.” powerful words, thank you! i am at a point in my life where instead of trying to do it all i’ve decided to just do the things that i love. i just turned 30 last year, so maybe i’m getting the hang of this getting older thing, lol.

  5. Sounds like you are loving life right now :) Kudos to you!

  6. All of that “or else” thinking can really play havoc with your brain. Looks like you are in a happy place right now. Enjoy!

  7. True! Run because you love it, not because you are obliged to. If you keep the positive thought upon doing something, you could achieve the high level of satisfaction even though you don’t win in the end. The most important is your’e enjoying it. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. That’s just wonderful! I have never been much of a runner but recently started running in the park near my home. There is nothing more liberating and empowering! Good for you :)

  10. This is so cool! I’m just starting out to run for marathons. I’ve only just run sprints before for school sports activities and I want to do something more fulfilling and I thought about, “Hey, why not try a marathon?”

    I still haven’t done much as I’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle before I started out training so I’m still going at my slow pace and probably increase my training routines.

    Your blog is truly inspiring! More power to you. :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] For the Love of Running: If you’ve ever had running turn into something other than awesome fun-ness, you need to read this post. […]

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