|My most JOYFUL race. Hot, tired, covered in chocolate gel, and needing to gain at least 5lbs but so HAPPY to be running strong. Nothing but smiles at mile 26.1 of my 26.2 run with my husband in 2011.|
Running has always been a constant in my life. A faithful companion. Always there to give me a boost in energy or keep me company while I spill my deepest and dearest emotions on the road. It brings pleasure, challenge, calm, fulfillment and release. And it just makes life better. But lately, running just isn't as enjoyable as it used to be. It doesn't feel as effortless. And I certainly don't crave it as much.
I was reflecting this morning on how much harder running is for me now compared to the past. Paces. Motivation. Sticking to training plans. Being consistent. I'm just not finding the same JOY and LOVE for running as I once did. This lull in running love can probably be connected to a lot of different things. For one, I'm I'm just not that into training for something again. On one hand, I like having a goal on the horizon and some sort of plan to follow but on the other hand, I'm wanting to skip runs more often than not. This makes experiencing joy in my running a tricky thing.
Putting training aside, I'm still struggling to find my running mojo. I realized this morning that so much of this running rut (and life rut even) is probably because I've been comparing myself to a version of me from the past instead of embracing myself as I am now. Things have changed. Life is different. I'm not in the same place as I was even a year ago....with running, motherhood, relationships. And that's okay. I can't expect myself to be running the same exact paces as I was three years ago with drastically different training and life circumstances. I'm just not there right now. With a lot of things. That's not to say that my days of running personal bests are over by any means. It just means that where I'm at right now with life isn't all about the hard core training and faster times. I've got to accept this and just be where I AM. This goes with all things in my life, not just running.
Adapting to change is easier said than done. Here's to working on embracing who I am TODAY and not trying so hard to hold on to who I was yesterday.
My life truly is better when I have running as part of it. It makes living a full and balanced life so much easier and there's no doubt that I want it in my life for the days to come. For this reason, I want to find ways to keep running as something that brings me JOY, not dread.
Ways to bring keep the JOY in Running:
- Switch things up. Finding new places to run, trying out new workouts and running different paces are ways to shake things up with our running routines so we don't get stuck in monotony.
- Embrace Fast and Slow Days. Don't always expect every run to feel fast and strong. Some days, maybe most, just need to be nice and easy. Go with how you feel on that day.
- Run Naked. No, don't take off all your clothes and go streaking. But definitely run some of your runs without a watch or Garmin. Just RUN. This can be one of the most feeing and enJOYable types of runs. I need to do this more often.
- Try not to compare yourself with others. It's easy to get caught up in reading running blogs ad seeing what all our running friends are doing. This can make us lose sight of being the best US and not trying to be what someone else is. I was reminded of this truth from a tweet this morning.
- Sign up for a race. Training for a race might not be something that we find joy in all of the time but it certainly makes running exciting sometimes. Better yet, sign up for a race with a friend and make it someplace you've always wanted to travel.
- Be part of a community. Having community is important for all kinds of things. When we have other people in our life with similar interests and goals, it makes for some really great support, validation, and inspiration. Join a running group, meet new friends that run, read running blogs, follow running forums, and read running magazines.
- Find a running partner. Some people like running alone and others like the company, so in addition to finding your running community in other places, you might want to find that special person that you fit well with when it comes to running. I've known many people that have had the same running partner for years. My husband is my favorite running partner when I do run with others.
- Celebrate Progress. As you reach goals and make progress with running, don't forget to celebrate! There are so many ways to celebrate our success and progress...new shoes, a date with a friend, self-pamper time, etc.
- Try not to get to caught up in comparing your "Right Now" self with your "Used to Be" self. You're at a different place today than you were yesterday. Embrace it. For some, you might be running stronger and faster than ever before and in this case, comparing is a fun thing to do. But for others, running might seem harder and slower than it used to. That's okay too.
- Take time off. Taking time off of running is certainly part of keeping it enjoyable. When I've had a stretch of time where I take a break from running, I find that I start to crave it. It always provides such joy when I return to running after a break.
- Enjoy the downtime. Enjoy the times when you just run because you love to run and not because you are training for something. Enjoy having running as that constant in your life for no reason at all other than the fact that you love it.
How do you keep JOY in your running?
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