When people find out I am a professional runner, they usually have the same questions; how many miles a day do you run, do you not get bored, and do you ever not want to run?
I usually chuckle a little to myself when I get these because the answers always surprise them. The one about not wanting to run, I tend to be a little more frank than most; all the time!
I often struggle my way through training, wondering why I do this to myself, and I lose motivation all the time.
During a rough week, I can go through a variety of emotions, all of which are negative, and it can be hard to stay focused on the goal race which looms closer.
I feel exhausted. I feel sad (and not sure why). I feel unmotivated….actually, often unmotivated doesn’t cut it. Sometimes I reach a scary level of unmotivated, becoming, indifferent to running, and the idea of racing sounds miserable.
I thought I would share some thoughts I had during a recent marathon buildup, to show you that you can overcome it, and look for the silver lining in your life, no matter how bad you feel.
I had a great week of training the week before, and although I was tired as expected from a high volume week, everything had gone well, and I was excited to get to see what I could do when I laid it all out there in a few weeks.
But then Monday hit, and all I had was an easy 9-mile run. Not only did I feel tired physically, but I felt completely out of it.
Thankfully, Steve (my husband) was running with me for most of it, as when we would cross a road, I wouldn’t even look. I just followed him, I was in so much of a trance.
You know how you feel when your eyes zone out, and you are just staring ahead, in a daze. It usually happens when you are looking at someone, and they catch you, and you feel like a creeper?
Yeah, I felt like that for the entire run that morning. I was just going through the motions.
Once I got home, I took my Perfect Amino, praying for a miracle (they are amazing, but not THAT good!) and some water with my Liquid Electrolyte EnduroPacks and proceeded to lay on the floor for a good 15 minutes.
Then Monday afternoon, I was meant to be on the ElliptiGO.
I willed myself to do it, but I ended up crying on it. When Steve came down to ask me what was wrong. I told him to go away.
Now do you feel sorry for him having to deal with me?
I hoped Tuesday would bring a new day and a new mood.
But it didn’t.
I woke up on Tuesday feeling even worse than the day before.
When I went to the gym for my strength training, Drew knew something was wrong from the second I walked in the door. I knew he could see it, I just hoped he wouldn’t ask.
I tried to plow ahead with what I needed to do. Wanting to just lie on the floor and cry, but knowing that I needed to do this. Strength training with Drew is the main reason I have stayed healthy, and there is no way I am throwing it away now, even if I am feeling crappy.
So I did.
Drew would try to talk to me, ask general questions, but I gave him short answers. Eyes straight ahead focused on just making it through.
Until finally, Drew stopped the timer and coerced it out of me.
Through tears, I told him I was not sure what was going on, but I just felt very down, and I didn’t know why.
I always feel better after I talk to Drew, by now he knows me so well, and he is so balanced and….well, zen (not something you would expect me to say about a strength coach, huh?), but we talked, and it felt good to get it out.
I finished the rest of my workout and told him I would let him know how my run went.
But the problem was, I still had no desire to run.
I had already pushed my run back till after I met my Saucony rep, Trey, for coffee; it’s too cold to run at 7 am.
I had already pushed my run back till after I worked out with Drew; I will feel better after my strength training.
Now I wanted to push my run back till the afternoon; I am hungry and I would rather eat lunch then go.
But the scary part was:
Not only was I pushing back my run, I was considering not doing it at all.
I did not WANT to run.
To the point to where I thought about just taking the day off without telling Steve. The fact that I was considering lying to my husband and coach, the person I trust the most in the world, was scary to me.
I decided to call him before I decided to go follow through with my threat.
I called Steve, crying as I drove home, and as always, he talked me off the ledge, and just made me feel so much better. My wonderful, sweet, husband once again knew exactly what to say, and he reminded me of how we will get through this together.
But there was one thing, I needed to get that run done today. THIS was the day that made all the difference, the day I will draw upon in the race.
I always say that our best races occur because of the bad days, that we got it done, and this was one of those days.
I had made it through the physically exhausting days.
Now I had to get through the emotionally exhausting days.
Finally, at 3 pm, enough was enough, I HAD to get this run done, and something wonderful happened.
There I was, running along, still feeling sorry for myself, the music I was listening to having no effect on my enjoyment of the run when I see a familiar running form coming towards me.
Maggie is a new friend who lives in Lexington who I chased after one day on my run when I noticed she was running about the same speed as me.
I had only run with her once since that day, but I knew we were going to be good for one another.
Maggie smiled as she realized it was me coming towards her.
I told her how thankful I was feeling to see her, and that it was meant to be.
I explained how I had been feeling that day, and here’s where it gets weird:
Maggie told me that she had never been on the road we just met up on.
Maggie told me she was a morning person, but for some reason, she had absolutely NO desire to run (or even get out of bed that morning), so she had been putting her run off all day.
Maggie told me she never runs at this time.
Yet here we were, meeting up mid run.
Now, I am a believer in things happening for a reason, and this for me was another way it was proved.
After only 20 minutes of running with her, I felt energized. By the time I left her, I only had 20 mins of running left, and I felt a new lease of life.
I still didn’t feel normal, but I felt much better, and I wanted to get home to tell Steve what had happened.
The next day I did wake up feeling back to myself, and I was very relieved.
Okay, so that was a long story, and you probably didn’t need to know it all.
But I wanted to show you that not only do I sometimes struggle with motivation, but I even consider NOT doing it.
Now, missing that one run would it have made any kind of difference at CIM?
Of course not, but doing it gave me an extra something to remember on race day when I am struggling, that I put in the time, even when I did not want to.
I am an extremely driven person, so these moments are rare for me, but when they happen, they hit hard.
I just wanted to share that sometimes we all lose motivation, but if you get it done, you feel so much more accomplished, and you feel more pride that is SO worth it.
So next time you lose motivation, will yourself out the door anyway.
Your Maggie may not be a physical person, but something will happen that will reward you for doing it
I believe in you :)
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The principle of reaping what we sow is certainly relevant to any effort requiring endurance. A Hail Mary might occasionally work on the football field (think Doug Flutie), but don’t expect that kind of miracle while participating in a 5k, half-marathon or marathon.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about endurance, it’s that it can’t be faked for long. Things have a tendency of shaking out fairly quickly. We know when someone has put in the work.
As heavyweight boxing great Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”