Monday, June 30, 2014

running for fun

i've run a total of 17 miles in june. in some ways, it makes me sad because the number is so low. in other ways, i'm glad there is a number there at all. this back injury has kept me low for over a month. in the beginning of may, i ran a 5k time i was pretty excited about at the start of my fast 5k training. saturday, i ran a slow, tortured 5k race where my only goal was to finish without excruciating pain. i'm happy to say that i did finish, but knowing where i am now and thinking about where i was a month ago is incredibly frustrating. 

a month ago, i was setting out on a journey to run the fastest 5k of my life come september. i had a whole summer ahead of me to train. i had three time trial races planned. i had visions of crossing the finish line victorious dancing in my head.

saturday, i did time trial #1 but i almost didn't get to the start line. going into this race, i had only been able to run about 2 miles without much pain. i thought 3 miles would be pushing it. i told brandon i was thinking about not running the race. he told me he thought i was making the wrong decision.

races for me, have always been about racing. it's always been about pushing myself through each mile, trying to beat the last version of myself on that race distance. i mentally struggle when i have to take a run slow or when i can't go out and compete against myself. i don't know whether it's stubbornness, or whether it's just the competitor inside me that refuses to break. either way, when i race, i don't run for fun. i run to race.

but is that the way to think about running? is there only one way to think about racing? i don't think there is. i've blogged about this before, but if i really want to enjoy this sport for the rest of my life, i'm going to have to learn to run for fun. i'm going to have to figure out how to step into a corral or cross a start line with the focus of the run to just enjoy the race. you'd think i'd be able to do this at disney races, of all places, but i have yet to be able to convince myself to stop for a picture with any character (except for the wine and dine a few years ago were i was mentally and physically defeated, but that's a story for another day).

so instead of forgetting this race altogether, which i knew wouldn't be fast and i knew could be painful, i decided i needed to do it to teach myself to embrace the fun of the run. turns out i picked a pretty crappy day to do that because it was 80+ degrees at 9:30am for the race start on an unshaded course. i ended up being more worried about avoiding heat stroke and dehydration than i was about having fun, but, i successfully didn't pay attention to my time. i allowed myself to slow down. i made myself listen to my body for clues on how i felt and whether or not i should adapt my running. and i forced myself as best i could to not think about trying to pass the person in front of me (though in the last half mile that got the best of me and i couldn't help but pass a few ladies ahead of me).

cool auto-awesomed picture by google, taken by brandon at
the race on saturday

when i crossed the race finish line, the world didn't end because my time was slow. my race wasn't any less meaningful. it was a 3.1 mile run with strangers on a beautiful michigan day. and when i finished, i felt happy. i was happy that i could make the distance without wincing in pain and i was happy that i made the decision to get out and run.

am i hoping for a miracle come back and a pr in september? absolutely. i can't stop thinking about it. when i do get to run, all i can vision is myself crossing that finish line with my hands in the air and a new pr in hand. that vision, that dream keeps me going. it keeps me focused on letting my back heal so that i can get back out and train. 

but until then, i am learning to slow down and enjoy the fun in the run. if that is all i can have these days, then i should feel blessed to have it.


  1. I know all about trying to make a come back after an injury. I run 3.1 miles almost every day and I know I am no where near my best 5K time. But then again I am not running for time on my runs, just for the mileage. Don't worry, your time will come back again. Its more important that you finished happy and healthy and had a great experience, which it sounds like you did!

    1. Isn't it tough? Feeling like you're starting over is so hard! But that's why I have been trying to do 2 miles as often as I can - to get the miles in. Hopefully we will both be back on our feet soon!


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