The Ebb and Flow of Running
Over the last 20 years running has become part of my life. I’ve entered events, had a go at triathlon, completed freezing cold OCRs, got faster, run longer and now treat runners in my own private physiotherapy clinic. It is fair to say that I love running and the adventures and friends it has bought me over the years.
BUT…………….at this moment I am really not in love with running!! I would say I’ve lost (shock, horror) my running mojo. Its completely skedaddled, gone on vacation, done one!!!! I’m sure as you’re reading this you’ll be able to relate to this on some level. You can’t possibly love something at the same intensity all the time. I suppose its like a relationship; it has the good times with the bad. You take the rough with the smooth and sometimes your heart fills with love and laughter and other times you’re driven mad by the smallest of flaws.
Running for me has always been a way to get out in the fresh air and have a bit of ‘me’ time. A time to reflect and occasionally delve into the darkest places of my mind to sort through old memories and learn from them. I usually run 4 or 5 times a week, go to the gym at least twice and chuck in a circuit class with friends once a week. Sometimes I run with friends or my partner but mostly I run alone, happy to enjoy the peace and tranquility that it is often hard to get during the day.
Over the years I have pushed myself physically and mentally with my running, both in speed and distance. I’ve run in some of the most beautifully harsh, rugged landscapes in the country. From mountains to coast I’ve been able to see some amazing scenery. The adventures have got bigger as the challenges have grown. I love the build up to an event, the planning, the training, the preparation. The run itself is just the end of a very long journey and then there’s the euphoric feeling on completion. The proud moment when you hang your medal up or wear your new t-shirt. You check through your photos smiling at the memories that surface.
The event is over, the hype dies, life moves on. The epic adventure fades in to memory and you return to normal life. Except you don’t. Your body is battered, your mentally exhausted and for me the local area becomes dull and uninspiring. I track my resting heart rate after a big event and notice it stays elevated for several weeks. The slightest exertion and my legs burn and I feel like my heart is going to burst out of my chest.
I have been here so I do know its part of the process. You cant push yourself to the limit and expect to come out of the other end completely unscathed. This time though its felt so much harder mentally. I completed the Ring of Fire Ultra (raising money for the Stroke Association) and then completed Equinox24 as part of a team with a super runner. We achieved what we had set out to do and it was so inspiring running as part of the KADS team. Everyone smashed their goals and we all felt elated after the event.
Next was Robin Hood and I’m not even going to comment on this. I hated it from the offset. I was tired, uninspired and way off form. I should have been sensible and pulled out but my runner head took over and I choose to give it a go.
I finished, feeling deflated and physically and mentally drained. It should have been a euphoric day but I would happily wipe it from my memory.
Jump 4 weeks to now. I have been back into training but mainly gym work. Running wise I have been going out at night with a headtorch and just running. No watch, no goals, just naked running. I did the Thoresby 10 and felt reasonably comfortable and enjoyed the forest surroundings. It was very peaceful and the smell of the trees was very comforting. Its such a fabulous event and I would definitely recommend it.
While I was running I thought about why I was feeling so low about running and how I could ignite my love again. I’m not a runner but what I am is an athlete. I love the competition, the training the feeling of butterflies when an event is approaching. For many years I rowed competitively and miss the feeling of sitting on a start line waiting for that hand to drop to signal the off. The months of training for a few minutes of lung busting rowing. Running doesn’t quite give me that but it keeps that competitive flame alight within me and I always want to do well. I know you can’t train for long and fast as the two just don’t mix. So with no long events on the calendar I have the XC season in my sights. 4-5 miles at the most. Thigh burning mud runs in the cold and wet. Much more fun than pounding the pavements but you have to include hill training and some off road leg burners. So as I write this I still haven’t found my running mojo but I know its out there somewhere having a bit of a holiday. I also know that it will return as I’ve been here before, I just need to ease back and let it come to me. I need to get back out and just enjoy it. Run with no pressure, no time goals, just the freedom of being out doing what I love. Once I stop pushing I am in no doubt my mojo will return to me. It reminds me of a saying ‘if you love something let it go, if its yours it’ll come back to you, if it doesn’t, it never was’.
Its ok to say you’re not enjoying something you love, you can have too much of a good thing! But writing this I just wanted to reassure that its perfectly normal. Embrace it, have a break, do something different, you’ll soon find the love returns and then its time to sit down and plan your next epic adventure.
So here’s to parkrun, here’s to running with friends, running with your partner, running with your club, to supporting or to simply having a lie in. Running isn’t the be all and end all. Its part of a healthy, balanced life and that balance sometimes swings. Don’t berate yourself, be kind and focus on your journey. Its not the end but just a little stop over for a bit of a refuel, then the journey will continue and you’ll feel ready to embrace it again.
If you’ve lost the love drop me a comment on what you do to find your mojo