Monday, January 13, 2014

Crossroads, Zen Running and Early Retirement

I'm at a big crossroads.

I've been debating writing about this because I tried to talk about it a few times and don't think I explained it well. Then I tried to post in a few Facebook groups I'm in and I still didn't feel like people got it. So I'm still not sure that I can get the words right to explain it, but why not pose the dilemma to the rest of the internet and of course, you guys since you all know me so well.

In the first Spirit of the Marathon movie (if you haven't seen it...I'm not sure we can be friends) Lori talks about the mystery of "zen runners" and how they can just run along with no watches, no paces or splits and just happily be at one with the world.

Years ago I started with a zen runner attitude. I wore gym shorts and cotton tshirts, ran on the treadmill, sometimes with my ipod and called it a day. It was fun, it was no pressure, I just did my thing when I felt like it and that still turned out to be at least 3 days a week. Then I got the idea to start racing and that was FUN. Racing gave me this surge of energy and adrenaline plus a tshirt and sometimes a medal! What's not to like?

First 5k...All cotton
Two things I think are obvious about me are that I'm goal oriented and I struggle with my self esteem. To combat my self esteem issues I set goals and reach them to make me feel better about myself. The downside of that is when I don't reach the goal or at least not in the way I arbitrarily decide the goal should be reached it destroys my self esteem. Being goal oriented is a good thing but not hitting one goal shouldn't eliminate past goals that had been reached.

Why do I say all of this?

I used to really need racing. If I have a race on the calendar, train for it and finish it then I am worth it. I'm good enough. My life is worth living. (Yes, it's been that serious for me) In all areas of my life, not just fitness, I've been a goal setter and unfortunately those personal and professional goals I'd set for myself either didn't happen or took a really long time to happen. Enter my racing obsession. I could distract myself from not needing to buy fancy business suits for important meetings by buying the highest quality shorts, tights and tech tees. I wasn't decorating my office so why not decorate my arm with a fancy, huge, wrist eating watch? I didn't get that great job I applied for but I managed to hold that 9:33 mile pace for much longer than I thought! I did really badly on that LSAT and may not get into law school...but I killed my first half marathon!

Point being, I needed racing to tell me I was good enough. But I don't need that external validation anymore and that is such a relief for me! I have a career I absolutely love and am pretty good at although there's still a lot to learn. I have a relationship that is reliable and everything I didn't even know I wanted. For once I'm not stressing about bills because I can pay for them. I got my tooth issue handled because I had insurance and didn't need to break the bank. I'm so happy with so many things that I'm ready to remove all the extra clutter from my life and go back to being zen. I hate using heart rate monitors, I actually run faster when I don't know my pace or distance but I don't miss my cotton tshirts.

All synthetic!
This is my crossroads. I've lost the need to do big races. I want to do many more marathons. I want to do an ultra. I want to do a half and full Ironman. But I don't know that I want those things right now. Training has become a chore, it's become work I don't particularly want to do. It has nothing to do with motivation because I still want to do yoga, weights, swim and run. I just want to do it all on my terms. It has nothing to do with how hard or inconvenient training is. It has to do with being happy and doing what I like and right now I'm not sure I like intense training. Looking at my bike kind of makes me cringe. Dressing up in a heart rate monitor seems excessive. I have some issues I still need to work out for myself. My caloric intake is improving but it's still way too low for the amount of exercise I'm doing and I see that gap only growing in the near future. My stress fracture is better but not entirely healed and I fear doing more damage to it. I'm studying for my personal training certification and have hardly been able to find the time to crack the book open.

Maybe it's time for me to focus on living a little and having exercise as a supplement. Or maybe I'm just having a bad day.



  1. I don't think this sounds like a BAD day at all! It actually is very refreshing and positive, from my perspective. To me, this post sounds like balance.

    You don't have the need for races, but still have the drive for exercise. Other things in your life are falling in to place, and I think this is a time to reassess and allow yourself to adjust or realign your goals. It seems like you are finally enjoying things, instead of being a race machine who just does it to check things off of your list.

    No, I'd say this isn't a bad day, but a good one!

  2. I love you have this insight... it speaks to me too. I get wrapped up in it too - like a 3rd job when I train... & today is my training day 1 for the next Ky derby mini... & I'm thinking, here I go again into crazy-ville. But being like you, when I didn't get to do the HM last year with back issues & I cried like a 2 yr old throwing a tantrum because my back pain was shooting & I STILL tried to run & the hubs refused to let me... I get the feeling like life is over if you don't make the races... but man, that taught me so much. The 'its OK' to not take it so seriously... It would be different if I was going for an Olympic medal or running for 1st place. That will never happen for me... so the races are all against myself. Hurting myself, making myself miserable isn't the race I want to run... just getting fit... HOWEVER that looks like...
    Girl - you gave me some epiphanies in this post! Thank you for being open about it!
    ... & FYI - shows you how 'unserious' I take it sometimes - I still love my cotton 95% of the days :)