Okay, I have to take a moment to admit something that is very hard for me to admit. Over the past few months I've really been struggling with my running. I go out to run a short (for me) hour run and end up walking SEVERAL times during the run. What used to be so easy for me has become a point of dissatisfaction and (emotional) pain.
Let me back up for a minute so you'll see where I came from...
When I started running REGULARLY back in 2002 I was running 6 miles 4x/week. I NEVER stopped unless I had to cross the street or something silly like that. When I trained for my first marathon in 2004, I was able to run 24 miles non-stop (never quite made it to 26.2 miles non-stop). So, what the heck happened???? Why is it so difficult for me to hammer out an hour run these days???
Is it because I'm 10 years older? Probably not. I mean, I've gotten stronger in the past ten years (overall), not weaker. Is it because of my weight? Although I've recently gained a bit of weight I still weigh 50+ lbs LESS today then I did when I first started running.
So, I started looking for that perfect excuse. I created a list (in my head) of Possible vs Probable reasons why I'm struggling so much.
Physical Stress (Ironman training coming to an end)
Racing a marathon at the beginning of my Ironman training
Incorrect (daily and workout) Nutrition
New running form
Running in the evening rather than the morning
Continually forgetting my ear buds to listen to music
Need new running shoes
Trying to run too fast for my new running form
Not doing well at self-motivation/self-talk
Running solo (i.e. nobody kicking me in the butt to help me move along)
Although some of those "possible" excuses are my current reality, none of them will truly keep me from running an hour without stopping. What I came to realize is I'm at a point in my running "career" where my self-motivation/self-talk is really keeping me from reaching my goals. Some of those "possible" excuses might be playing a role in that, too. I mean, when you're trying to change your running form and muscles in your body start aching that you've never felt before you just want to stop! When your new form quickens your pace and you start hyperventilating, you want to stop. But, the reality is I just wasn't emotionally strong enough to tell myself to JUST KEEP SWIMMING (oh...wait...that's that OTHER sport!). But, you get what I mean.
I came close to leaving my Garmin behind today (you know, that little "watch" that tells you how far you've run and how horribly slow you are running). But, I put it on anyway. I just tried really hard not to look at it. There were times today that my run was so slow that walkers could have passed me but I was NOT going to give up and stop. I kept telling myself to continue on (and kept thinking I'd have a great story to tell if I did!). I struggled with my run for sure but I NEVER.GAVE.UP!!! And, for the first time in months I can honestly say I finished an hour run without walking!
So, what do I do from here on out so this doesn't happen again? Well, I'm already starting to line up running buddies that can help push me through this time. See, if I'm running with other people I won't typically stop and walk because I don't want to be one to hold them back. I'm also going to start running in the morning again. That will hopefully knock out two of my "possible" issues (second being the heat/humidity). I'm going to get new running shoes and continue working on my new running form/pace. Those are just some starting points but I think that'll help!
For those of you that are struggling - I'm right there with you. And I hope this little article will be something to motivate you to move forward, push through those struggles, and run happy!!!