Lately around the running blogosphere, I’ve been seeing a lot of negativity. So many runners seem to be in a constant battle, putting so much pressure upon themselves to set PRs and complete new distances. I’ve heard of runners quitting races because they weren’t hitting their time goals, or complaining nonstop through weeks and weeks of training yet vowing to run their race anyway for who knows what reason.
My question is why?
Do I complain about running? Hell yeah. Does running make me grumpy and tired and sore sometimes? Hell yeah x 2. Do I occasionally think about all the free time I would have if I quit it? What sane person wouldn’t?
But ultimately, despite the blisters and the black toenails and the occasional blown time goals and the hours of training, I still love running. It keeps me balanced in this crazy world. No matter how much I might think I’ve leveled off at certain points, I find myself constantly pushing past what I thought were my limits. Running gives me something to look forward to and to be proud of.
And I’ve learned firsthand that putting pressure upon myself doesn’t lead to the greatest outcomes. When I ran Rock ‘N’ Roll in 2013, I convinced myself that OMG I MUST PR AND I MUST DEFINE MY ENTIRE TRAINING SEASON BY THIS ONE RACE.
Well, we all know how that went (not only did I fail to meet my pace expectations, but I hated every minute of that race). I was darn stupid for doing that to myself.
The races and regular ol’ runs where I have done best have been the ones where I just let myself be. Yes, it’s great to strive for goals (I certainly have some going into Hershey), but attitude is the most important thing in all of this.
I really want that sub-2:00:00 in Sunday’s race, but more than anything, I want to enjoy my run. I’m going to soak in the (most likely really cold) crisp fall air and sunshine, and I’m going to delight in the fact that, hey, I’m achieving what used to be my impossible. If I don’t make that sub-2:00:00, it won’t be the end of the world.
And yes, I’m still getting the normal pre-race jitters. Did I train enough? Should I have practiced on more hills? How am I going to carry water? Should I dress warm or cool? Where will I meet my family on the course?
Every time this anxiety flutters to the surface, I shake it off. Because, just like the song says, it’s gonna be alright.
I honestly can’t wait for this weekend.