Running. It always begins with good intentions. In my case, it started as a form of stress relief. Then I signed up for my first 10K, and after I completed that, I quickly signed up for my first half marathon. The rumors are true, running can be addicting.
Yet there is another trap that many don’t always share. The trap of being fast.
Those first few races, you are just grateful to finish. Sure, there may have been a time goal in the back of your mind, but honestly, it was more about the distance. But then it happens, you start to work a little harder and see faster paces appear.
Admittedly, I fell into that trap early on. I would set new personal records and work even harder. In fact, 2013 and 2014 were some of my best races. It makes complete sense, I had the time, energy and devotion to focus on training. I put in the mileage. I put in the speed work. There were even times that the paces seemed, dare I say it, easy! Running, more specifically, racing, was one of the top priorities in my life.
Then it happens. Something comes along in your life that takes some of that focus away. It may be a new sport, kids, travel, a move, or in my case, a new job. Suddenly I didn’t have the drive to train as hard. (Admittedly, I honestly thought the paces would just stick around. Clearly, that’s not how it works.) Other aspects of my life took priority.
Truthfully, the trap of being fast was still at work. I wanted those personal records. I wanted those paces to feel easy again. I would see others work hard and crush their goals. But when I went on a run, the paces weren’t where they were a year or two ago. In fact, there were days where I would lament to my friends and Brent that maybe I should just give up running.
That’s exactly why it is called a trap. Suddenly, all that matters is how fast you are running. You forget all about why you started running in the first place. It’s only about your pace. It’s only about the personal records. It’s only about the flash.
This was a situation where my friends and Brent knocked some sense into me. Running isn’t about being fast, at least not for us hobby runners. It is about focusing on the why. I run to relieve stress. I run to spend time with friends. I run to keep myself healthy. If faster paces and race times come along with the training, great! But if not, that’s okay too. And to be completely honest, I went on my social media platforms and removed any accounts that tried to make me fall back into the trap.
Sure, I continue to train as well as I can, usually with a certain goal in mind. (After all, two of my strengths are achiever and discipline.) As I’m now in the midst of marathon training, it’s about the endurance. After May, it’s possible I’ll refocus on speed. But if something else gets in the way of that, so be it! Life is meant to be lived, not to worry about the time on your Garmin.
Maybe those paces will appear again and maybe I’ll break some more personal records. In the meantime, I plan on focusing on what is important in the here and now.