Saturday, August 3, 2013

Over It.

Running didn't really happen for me in July due to a stress reaction in my left shin and some high hamstring tendonitis. For the month, I logged a grand total of 4 miles over the course of 3 runs-- all of them being "test runs". This morning I had a successful jog/walk session so I plan to start getting back into things next week.

I've been busy pool running, swimming and using the elliptical. I've been doing tempos and intervals on the elliptical, to the extent that I really feel it in my lungs and I am fairly certain that my VO2 max is being maintained. The effort is substantial and I am left feeling like I did a hard workout. I did a jog/walk this morning and the 9:30 pace felt like a 9:30 pace, so I am optimistic about where my fitness is. Definitely not obsessing over it since I know I will gain back eventually.

Where I've mainly been seeing progress is my mentality and attitude about running, and and about life in general. My primary goals for the year had little to do with training and running performance and mainly to do with mental strength. I think I've had a breakthrough. And the breakthrough is that I'm over it.

Worrying about what other people think of me-- I'm over it. Comparing my race times to others-- I'm over that too. Obsessing over getting every run in and following a training plan perfectly-- over that. Revolving my whole life and mental space around my next marathon and my training for it-- done with it.

I'm basically just sick of all the crap I put myself through in trying to improve my race times and it serves no
And if I don't run it perfectly, that's totally cool!
purpose. It's not going to make me a better runner. It's only going to undermine me and hurt me so why do I do it? It's okay that I took a month off of running. It's okay if I don't PR in Chicago. It's okay if I go for a year or two without setting a PR. Everything is my choice and nobody else cares about it to the extent that I do. Nobody is pressuring me to do any of these things except me. And I'm done with it.

That realization is so liberating and I can still remember the moment in the locker room of my building when it just kind of hit me. I had just finished an elliptical workout and I started to think about what my time off from running meant for me. But I just stopped short and realized that it doesn't matter to me the way it used to. It's my life and I can do whatever I want. I was exhausted from the elliptical. I was doing my best to maintain my fitness by doing activities that I didn't particularly enjoy and my best is good enough. Whatever happens in the fall is completely okay. And I honestly felt it, I didn't just force those thoughts into my brain because I know I'm "supposed" to be thinking along those lines.

One of my biggest roadblocks was that I never saw my line of thinking as being hurtful to me. In fact, I have always thought pretty highly of myself in terms of my hard work and motivation to accomplish things. It wasn't me who was hurting myself-- I was just reacting to the bad things that came my way.

When things didn't go well for me during a race, or really for most things in life, I would focus heavily on what went wrong and just wonder why I couldn't have what I wanted. This often led to post-marathon depression. I saw myself as sensitive and emotional about stuff, and that's just who I was. I couldn't help it if I got upset.

The breakthrough is that by focusing on these things that upset me-- I am hurting myself. Even though I'm not saying "Elizabeth you suck," by holding on to the disappointment and analyzing the situation over and over again, that's hurtful to me. If someone else had a race that didn't go well, I wouldn't spend hours talking them through all the details of how and why, and then comparing them to other people. That's not helpful. I'd want them to just move past it and get over it quickly.

Getting over it quickly doesn't mean you don't care or that you don't feel your emotions. It's just that you make the decision not to focus on things that hurt you. You make a decision to focus on things you can control and doing your best at those.

Many of my teammates ran a 1-mile race on a track a few weeks ago and I went to cheer them on. On the ride home, I started to feel a little sad that I was injured and unable to participate. And then I started wondering what my time would have been-- but very quickly I shut that down. I realized that I truly was "over it" and none of this mattered. I needed to focus on getting healthy again, period. And I drove all the way home feeling at peace with the fact that I didn't run and that I didn't speculate about what my time would have been. It was really nice.

I'm excited and curious to see how this breakthrough will look as I return to running. The best way I can describe it is a feeling of freedom. I feel free to do whatever I want and it's just okay.