Never Quit Running… Except When You Should
Mile one down. 7:58.
(Keep it on. Keep it on. Right on pace. Right on pace.)
Mile two down. 8:36
(Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out. Strong and steady. Strong and steady.)
Mile three. 8:48.
(Crap crap crap crap. Get to mile 4. Get to mile 4. Get to mile 4.)
Mile 4. 8:57.
(Just finish. Just finish. Just finish. Just finish. Just finish.)
Mile 5. 9:05. 43:27.
(NO WAY IN HELL DO I WANT TO DO THAT FOR 26.2 MILES.)
And with that, I crossed the finish line of the Park Point 5 Miler.
The Marathon “Meh”
It’s no secret to say that I’ve been feeling less-than-enthusiastic about my training for Twin Cities Marathon. In fact, I would say that I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions about running in general since the TC 1 Mile. Marathon training has been like a bad boyfriend lately. It is easy and great when it’s showering you with kisses and flowers and attention – that makes you feel amazing! But what about when it’s ignoring you or talking to other girls in front of you? It makes you feel like crap. And you know something is wrong. But you stay with it mostly out of fear.
I’ve been afraid to speak up and acknowledge that something is wrong. I’ve been afraid to change course. If I just buckle down and gut out my long run, I’ll love marathon training. If I just run those 400s, I’ll get my motivation back. If I just this, if I just that…sounds like I’m trying to talk myself into something. Every now and then, little doubts kept crossing my mind. And rather than acknowledging those doubts as objective information, I used them to beat myself up mentally and dig my hole of marathon training despair even deeper.
The trouble with marathon training is, you have to really want to do a marathon. (Duh, right? Sometimes it takes awhile for me to grasp things.) After Friday’s steamy Park Point 5 Miler and Sunday’s equally steamy 15 mile long run, I can finally acknowledge that I do not want to run Twin Cities Marathon this fall. I wasn’t being hyperbolic when I thought to myself “No way in hell do I want to do that for 26.2 miles.” I really, honestly do not.
I do not feel mentally or physically ready to run the pace I need to run to achieve the goal that I want to achieve – and it’s not worth it to me to “just finish.” Because I just don’t like running that far. And it feels so freeing to be able to admit that!
Never Quit… Except When You Should
I recently finished reading The Ultra Mindset by Travis Macy. It’s a great book, and I highly recommend it. I read through the first seven mindsets, using them to justify continuing to force myself into doing this marathon. But when I got to the last mindset (“Never Quit…Except When You Should Quit”), ironically, that’s when I knew that it was ok to say “stop.”
Macy writes that he stayed in a graduate program because he was afraid of what would happen if he quit. So, he kept going at something that he didn’t actually want to do. Until he realized that what he was pursuing didn’t mesh with his sense of self or what he wanted out of his life.
…don’t quit because you’re afraid of something you really want to do. Do quit if you’re on a less-than-ideal course and you’re afraid of what will happen if you change directions.
When I read these words, a 1.21 gigawatt light bulb went off in my head. I had been thinking about taking a break from running since after the TC 1 Mile, but insisted on pushing forward with marathon training. I was afraid of what would happen if I took a step back. I was afraid my coach would fire me. I was afraid my running group wouldn’t like me or respect me. I was afraid I wouldn’t be a “real” runner. I was afraid of looking stupid, trying to run fast (for me) at shorter races. I was afraid I wasn’t appreciating my relatively recent return to running enough. I was afraid that I was once again falling into a pattern of quitting things because they got tough. I was afraid I would lose my identity.
Not Doing a Marathon
The more I thought through my fears, the more I realized that, as Macy writes, “fear acts by preventing people from doing what they want to do, and just as significantly, compelling them to keep doing what they don’t want to do.” Fear of trying something new (NOT DOING A MARATHON!) was keeping me on a path that I didn’t want to be on, that didn’t align with my true self.
So, I am not doing the marathon. And I’m finally ok with it. I realized that marathon training makes me hate running and want to quit running altogether – and hating running does not mesh with who I am.
Running is freedom, running is self-worth, running is empowerment, running is camaraderie and fellowship. Running can be about testing limits, but sometimes, true courage is knowing what your limits are and being ok with that. I know that every run is not sunshine and unicorns, but running is not, at least to me, about beating myself into submission, like I have been for the last two months. It’s about letting the true me shine through.