A blog by runners. For runners.

It’s OK to love running just a little bit less

falling-out-of-love-with-runningI’m in this spot where I’ve been running consistently for over 10 years. I’ve earned good race times at distances from the 5K to 15K to marathon. Even better, I’ve raced in more than 50 events big and small in my hometown and beyond. I even ran a half marathon (and several other “races”) while pregnant. My subsequent return to running after the postpartum hiatus was a rush. I discovered I am now faster and stronger than ever before — even while pushing a jogging stroller.

I have experienced steep, rocky trails. I’ve jogged sandy seaside paths and frigid snow covered sidewalks  — 2 feet deep. I have felt my chest nearly explode as I sped around flat, fast 5K courses. I have sweated out almost my entire body weight on muggy summer nights. I’ve felt my throat burn and my fingers tingle warming up after a slow 10-miler in sub-0 degree temperatures. I’ve turned easy runs into fartleks in order to dodge lightning storms. I’ve traversed mountains that even my car finds difficulty climbing.

Perhaps my favorite experience: I’ve high-fived my toddler daughter and received one very sloppy kiss at the turnaround point of an all-female distance festival race. And I still PRed.

For me, it’s just been one exciting personal athletic milestone followed by another and then another. I knew it’d happen eventually, though. A slump. A place where I can’t just ride on natural ability and semi-descent training anymore. Where I don’t necessarily move myself across that finish line faster at each chance. Where I choose to skip this year’s hosting of a once-highly anticipated event to do nothing more than sleep in. Yeah. It can happen. I don’t feel as excited anymore to sign up for races. They’re old hat, no matter if they’re a a well-worn loop around my neighborhood or a trek through a large, foreign city.

Any long relationship has its ups and downs. And for me, that hot honeymoon period lasted a really long time — what a trip we had! Running isn’t so much a courtship at this point. I feel like I’ve become one with it. That being said, the romance hasn’t died so much as it has become routine. Expected. Comfortable. Easy in its own way.

Of course I could train harder to gain speed or try longer distances to add more notches to my bragging belt — anything to spice up the known and shake up my motivation. Thing is, this post isn’t about gaining motivation or smashing through plateaus. I think there’s something to be said to settling into a good, healthy routine and being happy, fulfilled regardless of pace or whatever else I used to gain from lacing up at different events.

For a while, I questioned it. I searched for “the answer” to rekindle my passion back to its previous levels. In the end, I am at peace with my current state of non-competitive forward movement as it nurtures my body and spirit. There’s a calmness and confidence I have in my own athletic ability that I’ve never experienced before. And, though it sometimes feels odd, it’s actually a great place to be.