A blog by runners. For runners.

When life gets in the way: one runner’s personal story

just-keep-runningWe sign up for races months upon months in advance. We dream up the best possible scenarios — uninterrupted training, good weather, no injuries, etc. We calculate aggressive race times and write out workouts tuned to get us to the finish with a new PR. Then we complete the event and start the process all over again. It’s this momentum that keeps me going with my running and, generally, with my whole life.

Thing is, we don’t know what tomorrow brings let alone what 6 months from now will. So, we invest. We put lots of time, energy, sweat, passion, and vigor into our miles. We stow this hard work away in our bones and muscles almost like our child-selves plunked quarters into a ceramic piggy bank. We save it all up for this big cash out at the end, when we get the reward.

Now, I go through periods of training when I can stick all my quality workouts like a pro. If I’m following a written plan, I cross off these tempo, speed, and long runs and log my times with much esteem. However, I also go through (many) training cycles with far less ease and motivation. Doing anything more than my usual 4-mile slog around the neighborhood feels too much. Other times, I seem to toggle between these extremes by the week.

If I’m being honest with you all, my life has officially gotten in the way of running lately. We learned recently that our daughter will soon need some major surgery, so things have sort of halted in the wake of this news. I’m about two weeks away from my goal half marathon race and I’ve completely bombed my last several weeks of training. I’ve skipped too many long runs. I don’t even remember my paces for speed workouts. There’s very little in my running-bank right now.

What to do? Plan B.

I know that without putting in the work — without earning it — I won’t be running a 1:40 flat anytime this season. I even considered skipping my race altogether, marking the second DNS in my racing history. Instead of completely defeating myself, though, I’ve decided to take it all in stride, so to speak. To focus on my family, but to continue caring for myself as well.

I’ve discovered the less running I do, the crankier I get. Life gets in the way whether it’s this thing or that thing, and that’s not likely to change ever. What I can control in it all is what keeps me well oiled and best able to cope. So, I’m going to run my race for fun, even if that means walking some of it or taking breaks before the finish. Even if that means finishing slower than I’ve ever finished a half marathon. No matter what, I’m going to run.

And to keep the momentum going, I’m going to sign up for a few more low-key races that will force me to get out there when I might rather stay home paralyzed. When situations or emotions or other mind-matters take over, running generally suffers. At least for me it does. But, and I’m sure many of you can attest to this as well, when a runner lets running suffer, everything suffers so much more. I choose to move on!

Written by  Ashley Marcin.