It's been close to a year since I last blogged. Too long. I have no good excuse other than I let life take over and became a little lazy with blogging along with other time consuming things. Well, the past few weeks I've realized how much I've missed blogging, especially for venting. It's always served me as a refreshing outlet to express frustrations and progressions in my training programs. It's true, putting your thoughts onto paper (or virtual paper), you start to feel better once it's all off your chest. So here it is, 3 years of thoughts and feeling built up during my runs...
Today I hit my (runner's) bottom. It's been coming on for a while now, since the Savannah Marathon last November. I'm in the midst of training for my third marathon and this has been the toughest one yet. I set out today to run 18 miles and called it quit at 2 miles. I didn't even run back to the car to make it 4. I simply quit and bitched at myself the entire way back. I thought to myself it's been the hottest summer we have had in years, I'm bored with the Silver Comet Trail, there is really no great running trails near downtown, the humidity is outrageous, I'm continuously tired, and I'm mentally exhausted. Excuses. That's all it is. I've been finding one excuse after another to justify my degression. Let me start from the beginning.
I started running roughly 3 years ago. My main focus was to use running as a source of getting back into shape. As we all do, we set goals. Mine was to run my first half marathon; at the time it seemed impossible since I couldn't even run 1 mile without stopping. I found a planned and began my endurance running journey. I fell in love. At that time, running gave me a since of accomplishment. I was getting back into shape and surprising myself with what my body could endure. I packed a handful of half marathons and one full marathon into my bag of accomplishments. I became invested in running, and wanted to share the experience with everyone around me. I didn't feel like I was a newbie anymore. I transitioned running into more an outlet than a source of health/fitness. At this point, I was almost finished with college and had a lot of stress on my plate. Running helped me relieve and blow off all the stress I felt coming from "the real world". I fell in love with it all over again, but for a different reason. I was still working hard, staying in shape, and staying sane. I increased my intensity working to get faster and run harder. I had new goals with running. I was ready to start training for my second full marathon, this time alone. I knew training alone would be a hard transition and all the accountability would be put on myself. It really test your self discipline and drive. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I believe because it was my first time taking on running solo. Hardly any training runs with company. It was a different feeling. Different. I found myself pushing hard and proving to myself I could do it. This time around I used a more intense training guide encompassing longer 'short runs' and 'long runs'. I was determined to get a faster time even if it was just by a minute; damn, I'd take 30 seconds faster. I was on track. I was running faster and harder than I ever had. The Savannah Marathon came around and it felt like an epic fail. I felt like I had nothing to show for all my hard work but the same time as my first marathon, and I was 15 pounds heavier. Two and half years after starting running, I hadn't taken a break and hadn't accomplished the goals I set out for. Granted the Savannah course was not what anyone expected; but I still felt defeated.
I took a week off after Savannah, and then got right back to it. I dropped the weight I gained during the last training and pushed myself harder in the gym. I'm leaner and stronger than before. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon, 10.7.2012, and was ready to start training early to be guaranteed I would demolish my previous marathon times. It's been harder than I thought it would be. I figured this is my third time around, I got this. Nothing to it. Nope. Hardly the case. I'm afraid I won't get faster and reach my goal in Chicago. I also have found myself worried I will gain weight like I did during my previous training. I've changed my nutrition plan this time around, and keep obsessing. Not good. I've realized on my long runs, I haven't eaten enough crab/protein the day before so it's making my runs tougher than they should be. I know that at one point or another everyone experiences hardship and downfalls in any situation. No matter how good something is for you or how much you love something, there will ways be a down. This is my down. Bringing yourself back up is the challenge. I've hit my bottom with running. Running isn't what I want it to be anymore. It used to be a source of fitness, then a stress outlet, now I find it not to be fun anymore. It feels more of chore and daunting task. I think every runner at one point experiences this feeling. I haven't felt 'good' after a run in months. On my walk back to the car today, I hypothesized why this may be the case.
I haven't taken a break from running since I've started. I'm not superwoman, I'm becoming burnt out. Everyone, including the professionals, say this happens. Well, I always believed I was different. I put unnecessary stress on myself. I set, sometimes, unrealistic goals for myself because I don't want to be mediocre. When I fail/ don't reach my goals, I feel like a failure and stress more. I am my biggest enemy. I have to realize it's ok if things don't go as planned. No one and nothing is perfect. There will always be a bump and I have learn to go over it and keep on going. I've come to the crossroads in my life where you start to figure out who you are and what you want in life. It's scary, especially alone. I've realized that I'm not satisfied. I'm not one to talk about personal feelings with much of anyone. I keep things to myself and try to figure them out alone. I've used running and exercise kind of as a scapegoat. Well, it catches up. Not being satisfied with other aspects in my life has now affected the one thing I could always count on and control. No bueno. It's not to say I'm not happy; I'm just not satisfied. I haven't done things in my life that I've always wanted to do.
At the start of this year I told myself it would be different. I would do things I typically wouldn't and take more risks. I made a bucket list of over 20 items. I've marked a handful of them off, but not as many as I would like as we are 8 months into the year. I'm not unhappy with life and really have no room to complain, since there are people with worse situations than me. Yet, I still complain and stress over little things. I'm human. My epic fail of a run today has made me realize I'm not satisfied with life. I feel bored and unstimulated. I'm the only person who can change that. So here it is, my oath to myself to change things.... I got all this from a run. It's amazing what you find out about yourself through running. I think I needed this failure to help uncover what is really bothering me. Now, I have to suck up this failed run and keep myself together. I have Chicago in 2 months and need to keep myself from over training. By trying to cover up issues I don't want to deal with, I end up over training. Working out/ and running more than I should. I break myself down and this is what happens.
My advice to everyone; life happens. We all have ups, but we all have downs. Our downs will radiate into other aspects of our lives and you have to learn to deal with them. Keep yourself happy! A happy you makes a happy run!
Well, after 2 beers and hours later of venting, I'm starting to feel better. I have to start fresh and forget about this bad run. I hope to keep blogging weekly! Promise.
Jayme Bergeron, BS
ACSM Health Fitness Specialist