It is winter and I am running and I am happy.
Last year, this was far from the case. I hid inside the gym on the dreadmill, last winter training for my spring half. I ran once in the snow and hated it. Every run was a chore. I was chasing a new PB. I was burnt out after two winters of training. I had a rough year last year. I did try some new things in an attempt to shake off the burnout that was quickly chasing my heels. I got my road bike and loved learning to ride. I had moments that felt childlike again and full of weeee. My favourite race last year was the Olympic Duathlon, I was really really proud of it. But I didn't allow myself to just enjoy something new and be playful. I drove hard to strive for bigger and better and I burned myself out. I am a slow learner at times, it takes me awhile to finally listen. But I did eventually, and I canceled doing the iron duathalon. It felt awful to do so but once done I instantly felt like an elephant had been lifted off of me. I started to exercise based on what I wanted to do and not what a training plan had me doing. I joined a new gym and started doing fun classes again. I started focusing on weight training again. I didn't run much. I gave myself permission to not run. I gave myself permission to have fun. I gave myself permission to rest when needed and to not feel like I had to be "hardcore" all the time. I gave myself permission to take the time I needed.
It wasn't easy, the pull to sign up for races and to make a race goal would come up when listening to other peoples training goals. But I would tell myself that these were their goals and not mine. There was a time when I felt like I had to keep up with all the races that everyone was doing, I didn't want to miss out. There was a time when I felt like I needed to have a full race calendar and be striving towards some kind of race goal to be worthy? WORTHY? Worthy of what? I put all my self worth in this "running persona." It's not a new game, I have done it before, put all my worth into some sort of external basket, at one time it was scrapbooking. No wonder it's so easy to burn yourself out and when that basket is empty you feel lost.
I let myself take the time to just be. I took a break from running. I admit that when I saw people out running I would get that little green jealous feeling (come on runners you know what I'm taking about ). When my friends started talking about races they wanted to do the following year, I told myself I wasn't allowed to even think about it till December. I knew I still needed time to just be. Slowly, I started running again. I went out with out my garmin for a few runs, and just ran. I ran without a planned distance or goal pace. I paid attention to how my body felt and more importantly my spirit. I felt happy and light after each run. I started to rediscover that JOY I first had when I started running. I ran for a few weeks like this just enjoying it without jumping on any race sites with my CC in hand. I truly let myself come to the decision of doing another Marathon because I WANTED to and not because I felt like I HAD to.
So it's winter and training is underway and it's not easy. It's cold and the snow is a pain. The treadmill is a mental soul sucking device. I struggle to keep my strength training up and fit it all in while honouring rest days. Yet despite all of this, I am happy! Yesterday's run was tough physically but I had a grin on my face for most of it. I realized that this awful snow was actually a gift. The snow forces me to slow down, to take my time, to watch the terrain, and take walk breaks when needed. The snow helps me realize that just covering any distance out there is something to be proud of. I forget my garmin, I forget the numbers, I actually stop caring about my pace. I run because I like running. I love how my body feels when I am running. My spirit feels joyful when I run. Yesterday, the snow helped me remember my goal this Marathon. I want to run with JOY. To celebrate this healthy body and mind that can do this crazy thing. My WHY is evolving!
I read this awesome post on FB last week, about a lifter who's WHY has changed. My why has changed. I'm running now because I enjoy it and it's honestly my favourite way to sweat. I don't feel like filling up my calendar with races. I am so looking forward to my first summer in years, free of training! I am going to camp and travel and enjoy my family without the pressure of training for a race. I am going to bike and run and lift heavy things because I want to and how I want to. Right now I am exercising because it is what makes me feel good physically and mentally. It helps me deal with my anxiety and it makes me feel good in my skin. I'm not doing it for badges of bad ass honour, or to burn calories like in the past. I am doing this for me, and my true self not the crazy voice in my head (I totally just made myself sound bat ass crazy).
So my little moral of the post is this, take the time, grant yourself the time to recover from pushing pushing pushing, and rediscover where your joy is? Find your WHY :)