Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why I broke up with running. And why it’s OK.

I think I’ve mentioned it briefly here in recent weeks, but I really lost my running mojo this year.

Last year, in the midst of my “30/50 Before 30 Project”, one of my long-term fitness goals was to be able to run a 5K. I started out slowly in the spring of 2013 with the Couch to 5K app on my phone, and by the end of the summer, I was running 5K in about 35 minutes. I had hoped to get it under 30 minutes, but I was never successful in doing so. (I think the closest I ever got was 31-ish mins, and I thought my head was gonna explode).

Still, the fact that a kid who had never been a runner could now actually run, non-stop, for 5 kilometers, was big in my world. Really big.

Completing the Army Run 5K last September was one of my greatest achievements in a year filled with pretty incredible achievements for me. I felt like Supergirl.

But then the fall came, and with it came much cooler weather. I didn’t have a treadmill, so by the end of October, the too-cool temps had forced me out of my jogging routine, and back indoors full-time doing Beachbody programs like TurboFire and Les Mills Combat. I vowed that when the spring came, I’d get back in the jogging groove, and I’d spend this summer working towards breaking that 30-minute mark.

I admit that when spring of 2014 finally came and things started warming up around here (it took a loooong time for that to happen!), I was eager to get back out there pounding the pavement. I was surprised at first at how easily the jogging came back to me, and how quickly I was able to work myself back up to the pace I’d finished with last fall. Only two weeks of jogging 3x a week, and I was already running my 5K as fast as I was last year, and I was sincerely hopeful that if I kept working at it, I’d be able to get it under that 30 minute mark this year.

But I soon noticed something was off with me and my jogging. I started realizing that on the days I had jogs scheduled, I wasn’t looking forward to them. My mindset had become, “Just get it done. Get it over with. As fast as possible.”

After only 3 or 4 weeks of resuming my jogging schedule, I was downright dreading my jogs.

Why? I really can’t explain it. It wasn’t that I didn’t like being outdoors – in fact, that was something I LOVED about jogging, especially when the temperatures and weather conditions were favourable. And it wasn’t that it was too hard… physically, I was quite capable. It always kind of amazed me that jogging didn’t “hurt” more. I never had sore knees or shin splints… Still, I found myself running sluggishly, mentally berating myself, Why aren’t you trying to go faster? You’re not drastically out of breath, you’re legs feel strong, nothing hurts… why aren’t you trying harder??

The magic of jogging had faded. I wasn’t enjoying it.

And rule #1 for me when it comes to exercise, as I’ve said many times before, is that it HAS to be something I enjoy.

No, not necessarily something I love. Or something I look forward to. I’m probably always going to have to twist my own arm and mentally psyche myself up for a workout.

But when I’m actually doing the exercise?

I have to be enjoying it. I have to be OK with it. I have to be having a little bit of fun with it.

I have that with Turbo Fire. I have that with Les Mills Combat. I have that with Yoga. And yes, it’s true, I even have that with the Jillian Michaels 6-week 6-pack.

I didn’t have that anymore with running.

And so, I had to break up with it.

That wasn’t a decision I made quickly or easily. I forced myself to keep it up for a while, mainly because I really liked being in “the runner club”. OK, so it’s not an official club, but I still felt like I was part of something. I liked all the motivating & powerful running quotes and memes that I’d see on my Facebook newsfeed or on Pinterest. It made me feel good to know I was one of them.

runnign quote

running quote


And I also don’t like thinking of myself as a quitter.

But I had to quit running. I had already started coming up with lists of excuses in my head to get myself out of running on the days I had it scheduled. Well, it looks like it *might* rain tonight, so I think I’ll do Fire 45 instead. … Ugh, last time I ran the black flies were crazy, it’d be best to do an indoor workout tonight. … All of my decent workout tops are in the laundry basket, I can’t go jogging around town in a ratty, holey t-shirt.

Eventually I realized that there was no point in scheduling the jogs anymore. I just wasn’t into it, and I was stressing myself out because of it.

Here’s the good news: I wasn’t trying to get out of exercising altogether. At least I have that going for me. Even though my brain was trying to get me out of jogging, it was still always coming up with an alternative.

If I’ve learned anything in the past 18 months, it’s how important exercise is in my life. I simply cannot quit exercising. It is the only reason I survive these binges and losses of willpower around food.

And thankfully, it has just become part of my daily routine. If a workout is on the schedule, it has to get done at some point during the day. No ifs, ands or buts about it. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that I sweat just as much doing Turbo or Combat or even 6-week 6-pack.

That’s why I’ve decided it’s OK that I’m not running anymore. I’ve made peace with the decision. It doesn’t mean I’ll never run again – who knows, maybe I’ll get hit by the running bug again someday and take it up again. Maybe even just go for a jog once in a while to change things up, if the other workouts I’m doing become stale.

Truth is, I never really fell in love with jogging.  I felt empowered by the accomplishment, but it was never love.   I did it because it was quick and easy. When people asked if I was going to try a 10K, or maybe even a half-marathon someday, I never once felt that urge.

I was jogging for exercise, plain and simple.

And since I’m still exercising on a daily basis, then it’s absolutely OK that I’m not a runner anymore.


VandyJ said...

I didn't start running this year--I just couldn't make myself do it. I have to find something to fill the void, but I'm working on it. Running was convenient, but I never liked it.
Good for you for doing other exercise stuff in place of running.

Emmy said...

Your running journey sounds exactly like mine-- never thought of myself as a runner, worked up to a 5K, did it and thought it was awesome, was running up to 5 miles every Saturday (though very slowly)- then stopped and just never got back into it. Definitely have to find something you like.

Oh Eric and I started watching Prison Break on Netflix this week and I couldn't help but think of you :) Love loving it so far.

Nicole said...

Wonder why running isn't for some of us. I think I'm in that same boat to be honest. I'm waiting for my drs release (after baby) and then I have to find something because I'm still 20lbs up from my prebaby weight.

Mrs. Match said...

I broke up with running too. I totally understand. You have to find the thing that makes you excited to be active. For me it's Zumba. I'm glad you've found that with Turbo and other things. You don't have to run to be fit. In fact, when I was running all the time, I was actually heavier! Probably because I hated it too. ;-)