Thursday, July 2, 2009

After a "Bad Race": The need to enjoy the process

So. Where do I start? I trained like crazy, and then messed myself up by trying some new inserts, which through my body all out of wack. I felt good in the beginning. I felt I was running well. Then I don't know what happened. I got all worked up. I was nervous that I wasn't going fast enough. I was disappointed in myself for not being able to push harder. I was really hurting the last four miles or so of the race and DRAGGING myself the last two miles. My cousin really helped keep my spirits up enough to get to the finish line and into the sound to "ice". I was disappointed in my race...even though I made a PR. I really felt I could have done better if I had paid more attention to my body during training.

I had a bad race experience and now I need to choose how to react to that. I need to change my focus.

New Focus:
Enjoy the process
Run free, yet focused
Love the run
Run to relieve stress, not create it

"When life gets hard, YOU have to change!" -Shannon Hoon, Blind Melon, Change
In the beginning, I remember thinking "I can DO this!"...that's the main sentence that comes to mind when I think of the first week or two of running. I thought of it as a freedom, as something that I could do for myself, as a way to regain a part of me that had been missing for a long time (the althlete in me), I could do it outside and I didn't need to go to the sweaty, smelly gym. I wanted to lose a few pounds, but it wasn't the main focus (which may have been why it actually MADE me lose weight). I wanted to be one of those girls that I would see running and think to myself, "I wish I could do that. I wish that I liked running. I wish that I had a sport that I was passionate about." Runners always looked so free, yet focused to me; I wanted that feeling.

What have I already obtained from running that I refuse to let go??
Fitness and a love for it. I am not letting go of that. I also have an outlet that I love. I ENJOY "working out". I don't want to lose that either. I have a new respect for myself that I have followed through with something. I also love the racing atmosphere and running with other like-minded people, since most of my friends don't run. It's nice to be around people who don't want to just sit around at a bar all weekend and talk about the TV shows that they can't miss...and sit around all week they can go to the bar and sit around talking about them. What kind of life is that?

What do I want to get out of/accomplish through running??
I want to be a lifetime runner. I don't want to have to stop running ever. That means taking care of my body and probably starting to cross-train more often. I would also like to eventually complete a marathon. I want it to continue to make me feel free, yet focused.

What is a good run for me??
My favorite runs are long and at a good pace. I like not having to worry about pace and enjoy looking around. The distance makes me feel like I accomplished something and the pace/looking around makes me feel like I am free: I am free, yet focused.

What is a good race to me??
I have most enjoyed the races that were at a distance that I wasn't sure I reach. During those, I didn't worry about the pace, just getting to the finish line. I enjoyed the process, not just as a means to the finish line, but as a fun and heart. When I am going for time, I feel proud after, but I hate the run. There were a few times that I was proud of and they occurred when I wasn't going for time...and I enjoyed the ride. Why am I out there? To break some time barrier by adding training runs that I hate, and then having a race that I hate the run, but like the time at the end? What am I trying to prove?? A good race to me is one where I enjoyed the ride and am satisfied with my final time. One where I know that I put all of me into the race and had a blast while doing it.

What do I like the most about running??
The freedom and the scenery (I am mentally noting that these both have a lot to do with NOT making a particular time goal, while having much more to do with taking the time to look around) I also really like the release I feel afterward. I also love the respect I have for myself, which a regular workout routine always seems to give. I love the sense of community you feel with other runners, since running seems to really be something that only other runners can fully understand.

What do I like the most about racing??
I like the atmosphere. Everyone is out there because they have some level of committment to running and fitness in general. Racing makes running, which is most often a solo act, a behavior, or worse, "a workout", a SPORT that is shared with others. I like seeing the faces of others who have just done something that they didn't know they could do. I like the frontliners, the middle of the pack and the back of the line...I just like the ones who have pushed themselves to that finish line with all the heart they could muster...whatever the goal. I like the supportive attitudes that everyone has in each other completing his/her own personal goals.

What don't I like about running currently??
I'm hurting my body right now. Things are going really wrong. I'm not enjoying my runs where I worry about time and I actually do better when I don't think about it. I don't like the need I have to go fast to "prove" something...I feel like I need to prove that I'm a runner. Does completing in a certain time do that? No. It's as if I feel that to show that I run a lot, that I am committed to running, I need to be a fast runner. None of that works into my long term goals for running or the reasons why I started or continue to run. Who exactly am I trying to "prove" this to? It's not me, so I'm stopping immediately. I don't have to prove anything to anyone, except myself

How do I fix that??
Take a week off to heal (blah). Stop running for time. Start adding in some biking and swimming. Get good shoes. Listen to my Cousie and "love the run"............enjoy the process. After some fun running, schedule a fun race to do (not for time at all) to stay focused...invite some friends along : ) Good times.

What don't I like about racing currently?? How do I fix that??
Stop stressing out!! This is to relieve stress, not create it!! Go out there and "love the run" (as Cousie says). Run comfortably hard and do the best that I can do on that particular day, on that particular course, and let the run relax me, not stress me.

Thoughts of the hour:
Enjoy the process
Run free, yet focused
Love the run
Run to relieve stress, not create it

You need to try something to see if it works for you. I tried running for time and I have found that it is not for me...and THAT'S OKAY!

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