I hate running in the heat. I hate running in the cold. I hate running on hills. I hate running on sand. I hate running in snow. I hate running when it’s windy. I hate running when it’s raining. I hate running when it’s sunny and there’s no shade.
All of these thoughts occurred to me as I headed out for what I assumed would be another torturous run today. For the past week and half I have been dealing with and recovering from a horrendous bout of stomach flu. I was in bed, unable to keep anything down for about four days, and have had no appetite and little sleep in the days since. I have been trying to resume marathon training, even running a five mile road race, but have been unable to recover effectively as I haven’t been able to eat much, and have been working two jobs all the while.
So my runs have pretty much sucked lately, when I’ve been able to do them. This is peak marathon training. My marathon is less than six weeks away, and now is when I’m supposed to be training my hardest before the taper. And I just can’t seem to put in the effort and the amount of training I think I need to improve on my best marathon time.
Today was a scheduled easy run. I knew that after yesterday’s speed work in the heat (a sweltering 59 degrees, mind you) I would definitely go very easy on myself today. I was apprehensive, fearing another tough run, and thinking about how many runs I’ve had lately where I just pushed myself to get through it.
“You can do this. You’re a marathoner.”
“You’ve done it before, you can do it again.”
“You are tough, and these are the runs that will make you stronger.”
These are the things that I tell myself all the time, all too often, when I have to push through yet another tough run.
“Why are you doing this to yourself?”
Okay, some negative thoughts creep in there. But it’s a valid question. If I’m suffering so much, day after day, how much do I really love running? And why?
The answer I tell myself is that I do it to get faster. But why? Why force myself to get better at something if I don’t truly enjoy it? How can it be that I’ve been busting my ass year after year, and I don’t actually know if I love running?
Of course I love running. Running is my favorite. I do it all the time. I talk about it all the time. I read about it. I buy all the clothes. All the shoes. Plan my eating around it. Plan my vacations around it. I started a podcast about it. Ask any of my Facebook friends, and any of them will tell you that I love running.
I legitimately couldn’t answer that question as I started out this morning. I just didn’t get it. Why on earth do I keep doing this to myself? What am I trying to prove? And to who? Most people don’t care. And the ones who do, don’t care THAT much. And so what? What do I care about proving things to other people? There has to be a better reason. Right?
I ran slowly today and didn’t glance at my watch much. I thought about my struggles, about my rocky marathon training, and that I might be pushing myself to train for a race that I might not get to run anyway, doing a sport that I wasn’t convinced I enjoyed, and for what?
My lower left leg was bothering me and right quad was tight again. Energy was low, and the sun was out, and although it was warmer than when I ran yesterday, it didn’t feel hot. It felt nice. I had missed running in shorts and a tank. My breathing was light and easy, and the leg turnover felt good. By the time I had finished the loop, I felt like I could go another five miles. But today was my easy day, and I let it be that. It was great. I love running.