Monday, October 24, 2016

I'm Running Another Marathon, Wait No I'm Not.

"Get your head in the game" 

It's so commonly said but what we fail to realize at times is that your head can be in the game all it wants but if your heart isn't there you might as well be running without one of your shoes.

When I finally started to run again this year after our loss, I was excited because frankly I NEEDED something to be excited about. I wanted to want to train hard. I wanted to want to race hard. I wanted to want that PR and breakthrough race. I wanted to want something so big and full of pride after a year that hasn't left me with much.

That's the thing though, I wanted to want it all. But deep down, I don't want it...not right now. My heart isn't there and sometimes it just takes time and some proverbial life slaps across the face to see it.

So as quickly as I write about going big and training for a marathon again. I'm here to write again about NOT training for a marathon again. It's been a few weeks since I came to this conclusion and with the exception of a few fleeting thoughts of "what if", I haven't really faltered in knowing that this was right.

Because truth is, I don't believe you should run or train for a marathon unless you really want to. It's a time and energy commitment and it's a distance that demands respect. I'm also not at the point where I want to run a marathon for the sake of running one.  It's by far my favorite distance but the next time I toe the line for a 26.2 it's going to be about challenging myself and pushing my personal limits- and going for a time that is faster than I have done before. Mentally and physically I am not in a place to do that right now, and I don't have the desire to put in the work to get there at this moment.

This break isn't just about the marathon though. It's about training and schedules in general. I started running road races in 2009. I'd say it got a bit more serious in 2011 when I ran my first 3 marathons. 2012 was the first time I truly started "training" for races though, and since then I have had little to no downtime.

In the last 4 years I have ran 11 Marathons, 20 Half Marathons, 1 Half Ironman, and god knows how many shorter races. I have had some form of a training plan on my calendar for almost every week with a few exceptions. Even my recovery weeks I had a loose plan of what I wanted. Plans work for me, they help me and they calm me (as stupid as that sounds).

Right now though, a plan doesn't make sense or even sound good to me. I realized I was following a plan and doing what it said, because it said so and not because I wanted to. I have always been the athlete that wants to know WHY I am doing a workout and what I am supposed to get out of it. Somewhere in the last few months I realized I was no longer going into workouts to see what I can get out of it, but simply to check it off the list and have it be done. My head was always somewhere else, and that is when I say it's time to step away for a little bit. I'm lucky to have a coach that is 100% understanding and knows that this time away is important for me.

Reality is, I know that this is a really GOOD thing. I know that a break will make me better, and I know that running is not 100% my life nor do I ever want it to be. I wouldn't trade the last few years for anything. I was willing and able to make much of my time and energy about running and training. I was successful by my own standards because of that. I was simply able to make it more of a priority than I am willing to these days.

Zest, over at Salty Running wrote this piece that hit home- The Virtues of Casual Running. My mission over the next few months is to embrace casual running. Going out and running, for the sake of running and not because of some bigger goal. There was another piece by my good friend Cilantro about shifts in your running identity- I'd say that really describes the crossroads I'm at right now in a lot of ways. I'll say it again, this is a GOOD thing and I really plan on embracing all of this as much as I can. I have a lot of goals for the future and in running specifically. Big, scary, lofty, holy-shit running goals; but I have a bit of time right now to step back before I need to step up for those goals and I plan on fully taking advantage of that.

So where is my time going to go?

Time with Brian. Time with our crazy little ones. Time with family. Time with friends. Time with those who matter- because life's too short.

Working two jobs because I'm an overachiever who gets off on paying more than my minimum car payment and enjoys the ease of automatic deposits into my IRA.

Tackling projects around the house, getting ready to sell and move next year. Working on floor plans instead of personal training plans. Finally getting around to printing photos and changing out frames like we've been talking about forever. Actually finishing some little projects (I love DIY and crafts) that I have been meaning to but never got around to doing.

Oh yeah, I'm still going to do that running thing. Just without a goal race, or pressure, and probably lacking any form of routine. Exercising for health instead of a time goal- a good basic habit. I plan on going into more detail about this another day.

I'm still going to be around running. I plan on getting some volunteering in, and definitely getting my cheer on. Heather and I decided this would be a great year to get back down to NYC to spectate for an adventure. We went in 2013 and had a blast, I can only imagine it being just as fun this year- I mean, have you seen the pro field list? I also plan on getting a bit more involved in the running community in other ways, like mentoring and even the possibility of coaching. Just because I need a little space from a personal training plan doesn't mean I don't know how to put them together and wouldn't love helping others reach their goals.

I also plan on getting into writing a bit more. Both for personal use, as well as posts here and on Salty Running. Honestly it's such a good outlet and something I truly enjoy. With that, I'll also add I have about 50 books on my kindle list that I want to get working on-perfect timing as the weather starts to turn.

So, there's that. I was training for a marathon and now I'm not. Yes, I'm still a runner. But I think we all need a break from a training plan from time to time- no?


  1. Laura, I think you are making a wise decision. I don't blame you not to run a marathon- or ANY race distance- if your heart is not in it, as it is a lot of training, a lot of time away from Brian, family, and friends, and a crazy amount of recovery after. It takes a LOT of guts to train for an event but it always takes major guts to stop training and focus on other priorities too.

    You've been through a lot this past year and I agree that running can take on different forms in our lives as a sport. I've been a beginner runner, a youth track coach, a crazy hardcore training plan follower, etc. Running can be in our lives even if it's not competitive or "training"- and no matter what, you are a great person and inspirational athlete.

  2. Sounds like you have made a very wise choice about your goals. This post could have been written by me! I also love the structure of a training plan and feel a little lost without one. However, I spent my summer training for a full that I really didn't look forward to - I just wanted to get a BQ, but not really run the marathon, and that ended in injury and disappointment. Gotta have your head and heart in the game :) Enjoy your "downtime"!

  3. Group hug, Laura and all runners!! As someone who is just starting to really start "running fast," i.e. for me, sub-8:30 minute miles, I just want to remind you, Laura - you have accomplished so much, not only with running (which is hard in itself!) let alone giving it your all in your career, family, friends. You are just a very driven person - that is something to be very proud of. Enjoy a beer and we'll see you out there in the marathons soon enough!


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