I have run 9 marathons and 9 half marathons.
Yesterday, I ran 4 miles.
This is the furthest I have run since September 2012.
It is an understatement to say I have been struggling with my running lately.
Running is a huge part of who I am. I started running in August of 2008. 1 week after I finished my last college course, I was overwhelmed with my newly found free time after being in classes for 7 years through my undergrad and graduate coursework.
I have always been goal-oriented and driven to achieve, achieve, achieve. Once I had reached my educational goals, I then turned to physical ones. I joined a running group 1 week after I finished my last college class. I ran 7 miles the first week and ran my first marathon 6 months later.
Running was absolutely exhilarating to me. Each week, as I built up miles, I felt like I was constantly achieving new goals.
Crossing the finish line at my first marathon was one of the proudest moments of my life. I would have never thought I could achieve something of that magnitude and all a sudden, my hard work paid off.
I was addicted.
I signed up for another marathon and ran my 2nd just 4 months later, I ran my 3rd 4 months after that. I continued on this pace for a total of 3 years, running 3 marathons per year, plus a few 5Ks, 10ks and half-marathons sprinkled in here and there.
My body definitely felt the effects of this. I had knee problems to deal with all through my trainings and ankle flair ups here and there. I took some preventative and healing measures, but definitely not as much as I should.
It caught up to me.
Not only physically, but also mentally.
I ran my 9th marathon in November of 2011. It was my worst time ever. I cried for about 1 mile straight through it. I did something funky to my ankle and walked the last 6 miles. I remember at one point, walking by a shooting range and hoping someone would miss and hit me. Of course, this was pure histrionics, but I was at quite the low point.
I needed a break. I decided I would not run ANY marathons in 2012. I would run some halves (I ended up doing 2), but I would absolutely not go over the 13.1 mile mark. I needed to give my joints a rest and I wanted to focus more on yoga.
More than any 22 mile training run, more than running against the wind, more than running in the middle of a Southern California summer, more than going on a run after drinking too much coffee (can I got a hollerrr from my fellow runners who feel me on this one), TAKING A BREAK FROM RUNNING HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART ABOUT RUNNING!
Does that even make sense? Rest, no matter how important, is still the hardest part for many of us runners. I know my fellow over achievers know what I am talking about. Those of us who spent our school years like this:
There are those of us who obsessively strive to meet goals, we fixate on something and nothing will get in our way till we accomplish it.
We are little nuts. I know this. I am working on it. It has been a struggle.
2012 was a year of rest on the running front. At first, it was a great relief. I remember going as a spectator to the LA Marathon (a race I had done the past 2 years in a row, the 2011 race being the worst.day.of.my.life., but that’s a different story), I had a glad-that-isn’t-me attitude the whole time. I was elated and proud as I watched my sister cross the finish line, but I was in no way wishing to be in her place.
Towards the later part of the year, I started missing the longer miles. I signed up to fundraise (Go Team TSA!) for the Disneyland half marathon in early September.
I made the oh-so-smart choice of traipsing through Europe through most of June and a little of July, in poorly designed sandals. I picked shoes that I thought were cute, not ones that would wisely provide me safe passages on miles of day walks, along cobbled stoned streets.
I came back from Europe limping. I pressed on with my training. My runs went OK, but I limped around all day and the next after a training run. I knew I had done something to my foot. After a few trips to Dr. Google, I surmised that I had plantar fasciitis. Fun! I still did the Disney Half, but have been on a break since then.
I am oh, so slowly building miles back up. I am trying to be more diligent to ice my foot after runs. I searched all over the information superhighway for treatments and found great stretches that have really helped.
I have my sights set right now on running a Run Through Redlands half marathon in April. I have done this race the past 4 years in a row. It is my favorite local race and I would be upset if I could not do it.
But, I will still keep intune and listen to my body, as painful as it may be for my mind.
I would love to say that I will run a marathon this year, but I am not sure that I will. I am going to try, but I am not going to set a demanding expectation on myself to only be disappointed and ashamed.
I am going to work to be proud of myself where I am at. I am not going to limit myself or use this excuse. I am going to shift my focus to work on not only my body, but also my mind and spirit. I constantly tell the students I work with that they only get 1 body, 1 brain, 1 set of lungs, etc. therefore, they should be kind to it and mindful of what they put in it.
I need to do the same. I am going to work to not feel like a failure because I can only run 4 miles right now. I am going to be present with where I am currently at and not compare my existing self with my past self. I currently have different issues I am facing and I am going to be mindful, accepting and present with them.