I’ve been running a bit more lately, as I’ve registered for two half marathons this Spring. My first race is on Sunday, March 6th- it’s the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, and it’s got a start line that I can now walk to, since my family’s move this past Fall. I registered myself based largely on that fact alone; a pedestrian life makes me happy. My second race is at the end of May- another half marathon, this time a women’s-only in Toronto, that I’ve entered with two dear friends.
But as the date of my first race draws closer and my confidence starts to dip, as it always does before a race, I am shifting my approach and calling it a training run instead of a race. I’ve been less than perfect with my long runs, and since I’m only running once/week, that’s an important piece that’s been neglected. I have been consistently going to the gym four times per week, and throwing in some hot yoga for good measure, but the actual running mileage on my legs is very low. When I was in my prime long-distance-running years, I was logging 100km+ each and every week. I ran for the University of Calgary’s cross-country and track & field teams, and following that, running helped me to channel my energy through the intense demands of my Chiropractic degree. I got on some podiums, set some personal bests, and even won some money. I ran against the clock, against my strive for perfection, against my constant drive to be faster and better and better and better.
I still approach most things in life like this, and I’m nothing if not self-motivated. But now I’ve learned to control it. And the deep, dark truth is that running, or more accurately, racing, doesn’t always bring out the best of my psyche. There’s a fine line where my self-imposed pressure can become unhealthy, and black-and-white race times have the ability to play with my head.
I had my first child in 2009 and ran a 10-mile race ten weeks post-partum. In hindsight, this was a terrible decision, as my body was completely unprepared for that intense energy demand. But I needed to get back out there, I needed to feel like me again, and a big part of me is running. And from this race, I gained a positive despite the physical negative; that 10-miler changed how I saw myself. It showed me that running can be a subtitle in the story of my life, rather than the headline.
Throughout the past seven years, the expectations I’ve placed on myself and my running has exceedingly changed. I’m realizing that people don’t care about my race times. People don’t care if I win my age group or run a four-minute kilometre or (gasp!) have to slow down. People don’t care that my half marathon will be more than twenty minutes slower than my personal best and that it will likely take me three full days to recover.
And the most important person that doesn’t care about this stuff anymore is me.
I run to focus, I run to de-stress, I run to think. I run because I LOVE TO RUN.
I can’t think of a better reason.