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.