This winter, shortly after my dad died, I needed a distraction, a new focus or escape.
When the going gets tough, I’ve found a new hobby or goal can really be helpful.
(Yes, I realize I officially sound like a mom. Yikes.)
Drugs were out. Too risky, that whole addiction thing. And expensive, and just not cool.
CrossFit was out. I already pay a ton for my gym membership.
Backpacking the Rockies was out. My kids kinda need me, and my job would get in the way.
Another cat was out (well, because I already tried that—my husband got me one for Christmas and I named it after my dad).
Retail therapy was out. (My husband might disagree, because of the packagaes that keep arriving at the house, but seriously, that stuff was ON SALE so it doesn’t count!!)
Meh. I couldn’t come up with anything.
So I decided I’d train for another marathon. It fit the bill. Not too expensive, I love running, and I’ve never done a marathon road race. So, why not. I’d be so tired from training, that I’d be numb, if not happy, after the endorphins wore off. And skinny. (Bonus!)
I figured out a pace-driven training plan, and stuck to it, dutifully. Like I always do. For weeks, I did every workout, until about halfway, when something crazy happened.
I got sick. Just a winter bug. But after a few days of rest and recovery, I decided I DIDN’T FEEL LIKE TRAINING FOR A MARATHON ANYMORE.
I didn’t have a good reason. I just didn’t want to. It was too much running, and it was boring, and I… nope.
This may not sound unusual—how many people start training for marathons that they never complete? A LOT.
Life happens. It’s pretty common.
But hasn’t been for me, as an adult runner. When I set a running goal, I sink my teeth into it and I do not let go. I quit enough things as a kid to learn my lesson. Barring injury, death, natural disaster (I’ve showed up for races during them, actually), or having no one to watch my kids, once I start training for a specific race, I will be doing that race.
My lack of interest baffled me.
Where did my drive go? I was quitting, because 15 mile runs are, like, boring? That’s not a good reason! It’s always been boring!!
I read what I wrote when training for and completing my first trail marathon, in 2014, and the joy and excitement jumps off the screen.
This was different. It felt like work. It felt awful.
I’ve given it a lot of thought, and what I’ve come up with is: it didn’t work, because I was running away from something.
Running away is tiring. It burns you out. There is no goal in sight, just something you’re avoiding behind you. The memories of my dad slowly becoming trapped in his body, and dying in that hospice so quickly. The daily pain of not having him around anymore.
Running towards something, a goal you’re excited about, is another story. Something is waiting on the horizon, and you’re eager to reach it, and pass it, and to feel the rewards of accomplishing something.
I’m still in the process of turning around, shifting my focus, and running back towards my goals instead of away from sadness, but honestly, I’m not there yet.
In the meantime, I’m going through the motions. I’m finishing up the winter series I signed up for, which includes a half marathon in April. I joined the running club at Elite and am trying my darndest to get other people enthused about running, because maybe that will light the fire for me again.