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This morning, as I was sluggishly trying to escape the death grip that is my warm bed on a cold morning, Geoff looked at me and said “your Spartan knees are gone”. I looked down at my bare legs and realized he was right: the cuts and scrapes that decorated my knees for the last few months had finally healed, and other than some faint scarring, had all but disappeared. I shook my head at the fact that my body hasn’t seen a barbed wire crawl in almost a month now, and laughed at the fact that my interests have reshuffled in their order of relevance yet AGAIN. Now that the cold winter weather is approaching, the last thing on my mind is rolling around in mud, and instead, I’ve rekindled a little romance with running, by putting in my highest mileage week in months. In fact, I can’t wait to finish this post so I can go for another run.
When I first started running, I constantly found myself frustrated and upset at my seeming lack of dedication. I wanted to train to qualify for the Boston Marathon, run my first 70.3 and then 140.6 triathlon, run ultra marathons, and do all of these big, crazy things…and I wanted to do them right at that moment. Never mind the fact that I was a new runner, a new mom with boys only two years apart, holding down a few part time jobs and going to school full time. Excuses were for the weak, and even though the time for 20+ hour training week simply was not there, I always held out hope that somehow I could pull it off. My excitement for life and for dreaming big often resulted in grandeur statements of what was next on my to do list (and guess what, it still does). And when I couldn’t, for some obvious and some not so obvious reasons, actually properly train for and/or complete these events, I felt like a failure. When I found myself craving a spin class or a swim instead of yet another long run, I felt guilty. I have a handful of DNS’s (registered for, but did not start) on my race resume, including two 50 mile races and a half ironman. I have had many people negatively and sarcastically comment on the fact that I am not committed to what I do, and that my interests change too much for their preference. And after years of letting it get to me, I’ve finally made a big realization:
I love what I do.
You see, the most important thing to me in my fitness journey is that I enjoy what I do while I take care of my body. And it turns out, I enjoy doing LOTS of things. So much so, that I don’t want to sacrifice doing many fun things in order to dedicate all of my training time to being slightly above average at only one thing…right now. I’m pretty sure that someone over at the Wall Street Journal will have something to say about that, likely calling out my generation for our lack of dedication, or some other sweeping generalization, but it is how I feel right now, and I’m owning it. (And of course, this is not to discredit those who do have the drive, commitment, and focus to train their hearts out to achieve a specific goal. I have nothing but respect and admiration for those people.) Burnout is so prevalent in the endurance community, especially among amateurs, and to me, that is unfortunate.
You see, I love to run. Mostly on trails, but I’ll hit the pavement for the sake of a good race. I love what running gives me, I love how running makes me feel, I love the opportunities running has given me, the lives of people I’ve touched with running, and mostly the people who I’ve met through running that have touched my life. I am thankful every single time that I start running that I even get to run, it is an amazing gift that I will never take for granted.
But I also love obstacle course racing. Running through mud, climbing over walls, and carrying heavy things is so ridiculous, difficult, fun, and empowering. And the teamwork involved at times is like nothing else I’ve ever seen.
For years before I discovered running, I was a devout surfer. I checked the waves and the tide almost daily, and spent most of my free time on a board. It’s been (unfortunately) almost 3 years since I’ve touched a surfboard, but in my heart, I’m still…and always will be…a surfer.
I love going to the gym. I love knowing that I’m not only bettering my health with a daily strength training session, but I won’t lie: I take pride in knowing that my fitness is more well rounded than some fast female runners, who struggle with upper body weakness.
I love mountain biking. And though I’m certain that I’ll never, ever, ever be any good at it, I love the exhilarating feeling of making a technical climb or just barely missing a tree on a downhill.
I love hiking. And while I’ve yet to tackle and “14’ers” or hike for more than one consecutive day/overnight, it doesn’t mean I love being out on the mountains any less.
I love trying new things all of the time, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I love them, even if I hardly ever do them (Yoga or CrossFit, anyone?)
There was a time when I loved triathlon (or at least I kept trying to convince myself that I loved triathlon). Now is not that time, but it doesn’t mean the love won’t be rekindled in the future.
I loved Parkour for the 11 weeks worth of classes. And thought now I only bust out the occasional barrel roll for pure entertainment, I still enjoyed it when I practiced every week.
And I’m CERTAIN that in the future, there will be countless other random physical activities and hobbies that I take to with wild passion for a relatively short time, before moving on to something else.
Two weekends ago, at the Runner’s World Half Festival, I had the pleasure of sitting in on keynote speaker Dave McGillivray’s incredibly motivating speech. And one statement he repeated over and over really resonated within me:
My Game. My Rules.
It makes such perfect sense. Live your life as you see fit, for it is your life, and no one else’s. Assuming of course, you are doing your best to ensure all of your actions have positive outcomes. Strive to better yourself and your environment everyday, at your pace, in your time. Life is for living, life is for learning, life is for experiencing, and even though often times it is hard and heartbreaking, at the end of the day I believe we should all enjoy life. I see far too many instances, both online and with clients in person, who are constantly concerned that they are not doing enough because they aren’t matching so-and-so’s daily mileage, race distance, etc.
Remember, this is YOUR journey.
Again, I am not saying to lose focus, or to take away the incredible efforts and drive of some amazing amateur athletes out there. But at the end of the day, if you regularly aren’t enjoying what you do for fun, something might need to change.
So, rambling aside: I might sign up for an ultra marathon this March. One near my sisters house, a bribe posted on my facebook wall, in attempts to get me to come visit her in Alabama. But then again, the winter may be harsh, and I might take up snowshoeing instead, or beat the cold all together and work on besting my bench PR in the gym. Or I might try to beat the 50 yard potato sack racing world record. Your guess is as good as mine.
One day I will focus on finishing an Ironman. One day I will focus on that 50 miler. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, maybe next decade. But I do know that whatever I do next will be done with the ultimate goal to better myself, better my situation, and experience life…and it will be done with a smile on my face.