Attachment to Running

I am having a huge internal battle about whether or not to run another marathon.

I have not run a marathon since November 2011. It was my worst marathon time, ever. I was so burned out of running (you can read more about that here). After running 9 marathons in 3 years, I decided to take 2012 off. This extended to 2013.

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The urge has been creeping up and in the back of my mind, and I started setting my sights on the LA Marathon 2014. The last time I ran the LA Marathon was a pretty bad experience, and I want a new, positive viewpoint of it, to erase what is currently in my head.

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However, I have been thinking more and more about starting marathon training again, and I am not sure my intentions are in the right place and if this is the best decision for me.

If I am being completely honest, the reasons I want to run another marathon are:

  • I want to redeem myself from my last poor marathon time.
  • I want to feel like I am still a runner, and not a former one.
  • I want to set a new personal record.
  • I want to eat tons and burn it all off (this is probably the main reason, if I am being extremely honest).
  • I LOVE the feeling of accomplishment.
  • I like being apart of the running community.
  • I want to feel like even though I have been burned out and injured; I was still able to work my way back.
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Last week, during my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), we were discussing the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, and the idea of attachment.

I realized I am completely attached to the idea of being a runner. I have not been able to let it go. I have let it become too much apart of my identity and in defining my accomplishments, and as I see it slipping away, I am trying to grasp on tighter to it, even if it may not be good for me.

When I really started to evaluate my intentions for running LA 2014, I realized they were all ego based. All the reasons listed above are to feed my personal ego and make me feel better about myself.

The reasons I probably should not run another marathon are:

  • Marathon training is SO hard on my knees, ankles and back. I am in constant pain after long runs.
  • My chiropractor has told me over and over how bad running on concrete is for my back. I am usually out of alignment while training.
  • Marathon training takes up so much time. It is almost like having another job. It will take time away from my family, from yoga, my reading, myself.

It was pretty eye opening during my YTT, when all of us trainees were asked about any injuries we have. Almost everyone who had some type of injury (knee problems, back problems, bone spurs, plantar fasciitis, etc.) was because they had been runners.

It has also been insightful that I have been pretty much pain free for a while. I have not run more than 5 miles since The Run Through Redlands. I have been running 3-5 miles about twice per week. That’s it. Predominately, I have been doing yoga, and a little strength training. I have little to no back, knee, ankle or foot pain, which are always nagging and present while training.

I keep telling myself that I just need to work harder this time. I just need to be smarter about my training so my injuries do not flare up as bad. I will “be better” this time.

I am evaluating if this is all really a cop out from all the work training will be (even though I am not one to shy away from a challenge) or if I am thinking through something that may be healthier for me.

One of the reasons why I wanted to do the YTT was because I did not want to just do yoga anymore, I wanted to live it. I want to take the principles of yoga, and apply them off my mat. In doing so, thus far, I have noticed many positive differences in my life.

I am still going back and forth on this decision. I do not think feeding my personal ego is a good enough reason to go ahead with it. And, yet, still, still, I have not quite let it completely go.

Any thought, feedback, or advice is definitely welcome!

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8 thoughts on “Attachment to Running

  1. Maybe you need to give it one last go, from there you might go on to complete a marathon, or you will learn that its not meant to be. All of your yoga training will be good preparation for marathon training.

  2. This post really resonates with me. Not the marathon running part but the whole attachment to identity part. There are things I find it really difficult to give up because I feel like they are such a big part of my identity even if I no longer enjoy them. Something to consider…what if you do another marathon and it ends up worse than the last one?

  3. Although I’m not a runner and don’t understand the sport very well (or what it takes for it, rather) I can see how much you adore it and it seems like something you should do for yourself. You’re a seasoned runner now and with the right training you would kick the marathon’s butt. There’s nothing like a great experience to out-do a bad one, which is exactly what you need to forget your last marathon!

  4. Even when I’m not running, I feel that attachment to my identity as a runner. I also want to run another marathon, but haven’t figured out the reasons why, other than it makes me feel like a badass to say I run marathons. What I miss is the camaraderie of running with a group, and I got a taste of that when I ran the Ragnar Tahoe Trail this last weekend. Now I’m itching to run more. I can’t say I know the specifics of your situation – shoes, aches, the kind of mileage you do when training to run a marathon, but I know that a lot of my issues are solved with the perfect shoes, lower total miles but still doing long long runs, and doing some work on the track or the trails.

    And I have to admit, I like eating too.

    • I think you nailed it, I want to feel like a bad ass, talking about my injuries as opposed to my long runs makes me feel like a baby.

      I’m pretty good about keeping track of the mileage on my shoes, thinking about lower miles + long runs is something I could definitely try though.

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