I used to run like it was my job. Mainly because it kinda was throughout school (except without the compensation of course). Then I essentially quit. Why? After wrapping up over ten years of year-round competitive running from middle school all the way through four years of cross country, indoor and outdoor track at WKU, I was a bit burned out. The thing was, I still hadn't checked off my bucket list item of running a marathon. I lived in Chicago right out of school and one of the faster marathon courses was in my backyard...so it only made sense to keep some momentum going.
After taking several months of really only running when I felt like it, I started training for the 2010 Chicago marathon with the Fleet Feet racing team. I didn't run every day of the week but took another approach to training. The days that I ran...I RAN. There were either hard training days or no days at all. It seemed to make the most sense from a time management sense working full time, being in a long-distant relationship with my now-wife and wanting some semblance of a social life somewhere in there.
That method started paying off. I was hitting speed workouts comprable to my abilities when I was competing at WKU and was able to do my 20+ mile Saturdays right around a 7-minute mile pace without too much trouble. I felt ready to hit a Boston Marathon qualifier, with a goal time of 2:55.
Things didn't go as planned
Come race day, the temperature shot up to 87 degrees. I hydrated well, took my gel packs as I had practiced on my long days and still couldn't physically handle the heat. Doing all my workouts A) in Chicago and B) early in the morning or late at night made me ill-prepared for a hot weather run. Around mile 23, my whole body cramped up and I had to be pulled off the course into a medic tent. After a massage and drinking a ton more Gatorade, I signed my release form to not take a medic truck to the finish line and granny-crawled my way to the finish (hitting a 3:40 instead).
The rest of that day and week, I felt flu-ish. The worst I've ever felt after any physical activity, ever. All that work and nothing. Since I hadn't had a real off-season for nearly 11 years, I realized I really didn't have to run anymore. So I stopped.
Getting back into it
I've written here before about wanting to run again. I've also written and researched how exercise helps improve your cognitive abilities. Still, I didn't have the motivation to get running since I moved to Atlanta. I jogged here and there but have slowly gotten completely out of shape. Then my wife started running....
Now she gets up early before work every morning to get some workout in. Gradually, I started feeling like a wuss. If she could do it, so could I dangit! Still, running just wasn't fun enough to pursue for no reason. However, now I have a reason. My old WKU track buddies have entered a Bourbon Trail relay race in Kentucky. A relay team I'd love to be part of. The only way I could do it and not severely let down my friends would be to spend the next ten months getting back in shape.
The Benefits of My Hobby
Sure, I'll get back in shape. I have the motivation and accountability to not be the weakest link on a relay team. Training this winter is me starting off at my lowest cardiovascular ability since probably eighth grade. Essentially, I'm starting completely over. It's hard. It's humbling. It's teaching me a lot.
Taking every morning and working on my runs, despite how bad I may feel or how far I may not be able to go now, I have to keep pushing through something hard. It's a good mental discipline that I know should carry over into other aspects of work and life as well.
So, this year, I'll be slaying some dragons before breakfast, using RunKeeper to track my progress.
On RunKeeper? Join me and we can cheer each other on this year.
2013 will be the year running becomes fun again.