Switching Lanes


I haven’t felt like myself recently. With London Marathon looming in April, the weight of expectation and apprehension has been heavy. The few runs I’ve done in January have been, well, ‘meh’ and I just haven’t been able to get my head in the game. I’ve been doing my weight training and other bits and pieces and loving it, but when it comes to the runs, something just ain’t quite right. And then it hit me like a bolt of lightening the other day, to quote an old B.B King song for the blues heads out there – the thrill is gone.

That buzz I used to get from running, I just don’t get it anymore. That need to do race after race and chase times and push further and harder, I don’t have it. Up to about eight miles, that’s an enjoyable run for me. More than that, and it all starts to feel a bit stressy, which is the kind of feeling I’m running to avoid. Thus, it’s started to feel counterproductive.

And so, I’ve decided, I’m going to defer my London Marathon place.

It’s clear that whatever head space you need to be in to run a marathon, I’m just not in it. Hopefully by next year, I will be.

I think when you’re part of the fitness community there’s such an expectation from both others and yourself, that you will always be pushing for that next thing, the next achievement, the next big medal. Running has taught me so much, but primarily, it gave me a base level of fitness that has opened me up to explore other avenues of exercise. I think we can get so caught up in what we think we should be doing, it’s easy to forget that your personal happiness (and sanity) needs to factor into it pretty heavily.

Endlessly pounding pavements for mile after mile, having to devote the next few months to something that is actually just stressing me out – yeah, that’s not exactly making me happy. So, why am I putting myself through this? It’s not like I get paid to do it. And I’m not actually under any obligation. It’s funny the strains we’ll put on ourselves. I think I’ve been swept up in a moment and followed a dialogue that tells me this is what I need to do as a runner. This is the progression. You run 5Ks and 10Ks and Halfs and Marathons. It’s just what we do. But when I really sat down and thought about it, tried to figure out what was blocking me from having successful training runs, it boiled down to, basically, I just don’t want to do this. Not right now at least.

My other half said to me ‘You know when you’re happiest? When you’re boxing. You should go box.’

Sometimes just the simplest words have the most profound effect. He’s right. Boxing is my first love and I have missed it terribly. I was going to wait til after London Marathon to take it back up again and refocus on it, but without wanting to sound too melodramatic about it, my soul is calling me to it now.

The thrill I get from a few rounds on the pads, from the ridiculously tiring conditioning training of boxing is like nothing I’ve ever experienced and right now, I think that’s what I need.

I’ll keep running, but it’ll be shorter runs, to keep a level of fitness and to make sure that the steps are filled with joy, not stress. I’ll keep weight training because I’m loving it and I’ll keep doing all sorts of other weird and wonderful workouts because that’s what makes me happy.

We can’t stay beholden to something just because we think it’s what we’re supposed to be doing or what others expect from us. Don’t be scared to switch lanes if your body and mind feel that’s what you need to do. Sometimes our goals change. Sometimes the feeling we got from a passion dwindles. It doesn’t mean it’s gone forever, we just have to ride the wave.

London Marathon is a bit of a bucket list thing for me and it would be almost disrespectful for me to enter into it with the attitude of just wanting to get it over and done with and out of the way. The journey is supposed to be an enjoyable one. By the time the 2015 marathon rolls around, I imagine I’ll be in a much better head space and will be able to run that marathon with a zen-like calmness and passion-filled steps.

Moral of the story: follow your heart, my friends.

25 Responses to “Switching Lanes”
  1. Wow, Bangs, now you’ve got me thinking. Firstly I’d like to say that well done. If you feel the marathon it’s not for you, right now, then I agree you shouldn’t do it. I agree that it will be there waiting for you next year, when you can enjoy it to the fullest, and do one of your dreams they way it’s meant to be done.

    But yes, you got me thinking. I’ve had a hard weekend. I’ve completed the first stage of pilates training, and I’m combining it with yoga teacher training, but my body and mind are struggling. My body…well my back problems, the old mysterious injury no one seems to be able to fix, that has flared up, with a vengeance. I sleep badly, I cant do the things i like….mentally, it’s a total bummer to say the least.

    Today my partner asked me whether i wanted to quit. And i didnt have an answer. my training involves heavy weekends that leave me in pain. While im doing them they are not enjoyable experiences most of the time, i cant sit in any way that makes me comfortable, I just want to go home,. In my mind i am broken, a failure.

    But then i dont want to quit…even though everything else is telling me to do so. i feel if i do, i will be admiting defeat yet again, and ive been doing this for the past 4 years. So what does one do?

    I’m in a bit of a pickle. I wished I had your clarity of mind, or other things I could concentrate on…maybe i’m not meant to be “fixed”?

    Thanks for sharing your decision, and the reasons behind it. You got me thinking 😉

    • Spikes says:

      Thanks you, as always, for reading! I totally feel what you’re saying. It’s such a tough decision, either way. I can’t even offer any advice ’cause it’s so individual! I guess the answer will make itself known to you one way or another. Sending good vibes your way.

  2. Follow your heart indeed! I’m torn between running and Crossfit, most of the time they complement each other perfectly but right now I’m running more and Crossfitting less (spring marathon as well) and some days it’s so hard because I’ve so grown to love the social side of Crossfit (vs. the totally non social side of running as I just cannot run with anyone else due to pacing, etc.) I have only run 1 marathon so far though so I am looking forward to 2 more in the spring, after which I’ll jump back into Crossfit full on and just run shorter distances as well.

    • Spikes says:

      I feel ya on the pacing thing – I much prefer to run by myself the majority of the time because of that too. Crossfit will be there waiting for you once you’ve got your marathons out of the way. Right now though, if running is where its at for you, run. Run like the wind my friend!

  3. Kathryn says:

    I completely get it. I love running but I felt so deflated when I completed my first marathon in November because I didn’t get the time I had set myself in my head. I should of been over the moon but I was gutted a cried tears of pain and frustration instead of happiness when I finished. So I have decided that for this year at least I’m not chasing pbs. I’m going to runand I’m going to do races but I am going to run for the enjoyment not to beat myself up over my times. I already feel better for it and am looking forward to the 2 halfs and 1 full marathons I have planned in for this year (so far!). Do what your gut says and you can’t go far wrong!

  4. Tash says:

    Good for you! You have to be in the right mindset for these things and happiness is most important. It’s great that you can step away from what’s ‘expected’ and go with what feels right. I’m having a similar feeling with a career change right now, accepting that I’m happier as an fitness instructor when I’ve spent my life training to be an actress, I wasn’t happy or confident, now I am.
    Well done, you’ll thank yourself for this and next year you’ll probably have a totally different approach. Good luck!

    • Spikes says:

      Yeah I think these kinds of decisions can apply to many areas of life and I’ve come up against it career wise a few times too. Always tough. Hope you find some clarity on it.

  5. This is a great post, and I think it’s very admirable that you deferred, I know so many people who would just plod on with the training because they feel like they have to and end up hating the sport that they used to love as a result. Good luck with the boxing, can’t wait to hear more about it!

    • Spikes says:

      Ahh thank you so much! Yeah, that’s why I knew I had to just step away from it for a bit before I ended up with that attitude of just hating it. I definitely think I’ve made the right move.

  6. Mark says:

    I completely agree with your decision.

    At the end of the day – you should do what you enjoy doing. After three marathons i realised that i didnt enjoy marathons – I was doing them more from expectation than my own benefit.

    I much prefer a 5k or 10k or a race with a fun element from which I can get more enjoyment and if a run doesnt go well – it is not a problem.

    Hopefulyl you find your love of running again at some point – but in the meantime – good luck in the boxing

    • Spikes says:

      Thanks Mark! I totally hear you – and if 5Ks and 10Ks being you more happiness, do ’em! Marathons take so much out of us and for some reason, we hold them up as what we should aim for as runners. But for some of us, it’s just not a good fit. Happy running to you!

  7. Millytilly says:

    Touche Bangs – I thought it was just me who’s lost her running mojo, simply for the fact that I feel it’s just LONG (lol). After my half in February, I’m going to re-evaluate the fitness I’m doing and focus on whatever brings me the ultimate joy. It was once cycling until I did 100 miles…. (yea, still scarred…)

    • Spikes says:

      Ahh I think we all go through it as times. Truthfully I don’t think I’ve really been feeling it for a long time but was fighting against admitting it to myself. Now that I have, I feel fantastic! I’m always up for trying out some classes and stuff with you if you want a sidekick while you figure out what you enjoy 😉

  8. Mamacook says:

    I run and have recently built up to 5 and a half miles which is a huge deal for me. My Dad used to be a marathon runner and I was telling him how I’d like to do a 10K this year. He said “you’re capable of a half marathon if you want to do it but it takes a certain kind of lunacy to do a marathon. Don’t do it, it’s an experience but it’s not really enjoyable and I have the knee replacements to prove it.”

    If you want to do the London Marathon one day then good on you but if it’s not where you are or what you enjoy, why push yourself to do more than makes you happy? Although pushing yourself is fantastic when you get that buzz, don’t feel guilty for not following your dream for now. It’s YOUR dream and you can change it, postpone it or put it permanently on hold whenever you like.

    • Spikes says:

      Thank you for this. Yes, I totally agree. It definitely takes a certain kind of lunacy to run a full marathon! I think I’m actually going to enjoy running much more now that I’ve removed this pressure from myself. If when next year rolls around and I still don’t feel like doing the marathon, then hey, it just wasn’t meant to be, but I’m so looking forward to just doing what I enjoy for while and experimenting with different stuff.

  9. Viva says:

    I can totally relate. I used to love to run but haven’t for ages and ages. I now lift and tonight I went to my very first aqua aerobics class which was possibly the campiest thing ever but was SO fun. So that’s getting added to my weekly timetable! I trained for a marathon in 2008 but got injured 3 weeks before the race. It’s still on the bucket list, but I now have a toddler, and I don’t have TIME to run and run and run and run. I get frustrated and think about what I should be doing at home. I can go lift and be done in 45 minutes if I need to and still get lovely endorphins and feel happy. (Plus I find it makes me look better.) I’m looking forward to when I have a little more mental capacity and time, and then I can get back to it. Life’s too short to go through the motions.

    • Spikes says:

      Amen sista! That’s another really good point – sometimes life circumstances change and your workouts have to adapt with that. As you said, being a mum to young ones means that you simply don’t have the time to spend hours on end pounding the pavements right now. It’s great that you’ve found you enjoy lifting. I bet when you are able to go back to running, there’ll be more enjoyment in it for you.

  10. Caitlin says:

    Good for you. It can be really easy to get caught up in the externals, especially with running, since there’s such a huge community of us and we all seem to be striving for the bigger, gnarlier thing, that we can lose sight of how these things actually make us feel. It’s great that you have the insight to recognize this about yourself, and the flexibility to be willing to move on and do what you really love.

    While I was waiting in line at the port-a-potties during my own race this weekend, I started talking to a woman behind me who said she was done with marathons. She’d done 35 of them, including all the big ones, and after she ran Boston in 2011, she decided that was it for her, and now she focuses on half-marathons and shorter distances. Your post made me think of her, and how you both have the wisdom and insight to do what’s best for you instead of what you think you ought to be doing.

    • Spikes says:

      Thanks Caitlin! It was a tough decision to make, but once I made it, I felt like I was dancing on clouds. That’s probably an indication that it was the right choice!

      I love the sound of that lady. 35 marathons! I can’t even imagine. That’s so hardcore and awesome. And good on her for making that choice too.

  11. Tilly says:

    Thank you for this post! I have been feeling the same way and also decided to defer my 2014 spring marathon place because my head just wasn’t in it. This post made me see I was not alone and that it was okay that I had made the decision to defer. Im now going to build up my running gradually and stop worrying about pace or distance. I have a couple of halfs towards the end of the year but for now the only thing Im working towards is getting back to when running was fun, something I wanted to do and that made me smile :) Thank you

  12. Chloe says:

    Sounds like a crazy tough decision- I know the London Marathon can be tough to get a place in, and it’s not hard to tell from your writing how much it means to you. Massive respect for making a decision that’s right for you.

    I wrote about something that leads on from the sentiment of this post last year, I can totally relate to putting a stop on something you feel beholden to. I have never been a natural runner, I started with it because I wanted to join the Air Force, and irony of irony, I failed the medical due to eyesight. I kept trying to make myself like running, and still couldn’t get it. Giving in and finding a sport I do like (for me, cycling and I’m trying strength training and climbing for size presently) was a revelation, but more than that- it’s ok to do your sport or activity of choice with consistently trying to out perform yourself, if that’s how you like it. I’ve really enjoyed challenging myself in January, but sometimes, I just like to cycle or to try out something because I want to, and because I don’t want to be a statistic person who is inactive.

    So yeah- sorry, I guess all I wanted to say here- kudos for tough decisions, and hellah yes to doing the things that make you happy rather than constantly forcing something that’s wrong.

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