Article Reclaiming my joy for running – no more half marathons
I love running but I am not loving this run…
That’s what I was saying to myself during the final kilometres of my most recent half marathon.
There were lots of swear words too, but I’m censoring myself a bit for this reflection.
My philosophy of exercise
Many of you will be aware of my advocacy for exercise just because it makes us feel better – my philosophy of exercise.
Do it primarily to soothe the soul – take time out from the daily grind and blow off some steam.
We can take the pressure of ourselves to exercise for all the reasons we should and just do it to feel good.
All the benefits of exercise will just happen naturally, and it should not feel like punishment.
I was out of whack with my philosophy
Exercise certainly needs to be a bit challenging to reap the benefits, but we do not have to wreck ourselves.
My goodness, I felt like a wreck in the last 5 km of that half marathon.
The penny finally dropped as I ran through the ankle-deep puddle for the second time with about 1 km to go.
I never run through deep puddles on purpose when I’m just out doing my regular running.
That was just one of the ways I was punishing myself that day.
It was one big struggle
I had put pressure on myself to run this half marathon in personal best time.
The first 3 km were very slow and I felt sluggish.
There was no way I’d achieve my goal if I kept to that pace.
So I pushed myself to run the next 11 km faster and it looked like I’d clawed myself back to still get the PB.
The last 7 km were a mixed bag, but mostly it was struggle town.
I had to stop and walk several times.
And I missed my goal time by 4 and a half minutes.
This is not that bad in perspective, but I was telling myself off for failing.
I’m never doing this again
This was the fifth time I’d punished myself running a half marathon.
While I was feeling particularly crap around the 18 km mark, I remembered that I’d felt the same way at the same point before.
Actually. Every. Single. Time.
And thinking – I’m never doing this again. Every. Single. Time.
Euphoria tricked me into going back
At the same event the year before I had set the same time goal and only missed it by 2 minutes 18 seconds.
That time was better than any of my previous half marathons by 7 – 8 minutes and I’d done this stellar PB in SEVERE weather.
I was euphoric at the finish line and forgot all about how shitful I’d felt during the run.
I decided immediately I was going back to get my PB the following year because I would surely have achieved it had the weather not been so harsh.
Challenge or punishment
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to challenge ourselves and have goals to achieve things that are hard.
It’s very motivating and having the discipline to train for something like a half marathon is very rewarding.
I feel a great sense of achievement and good about myself for being a half marathon finisher.
But there’s a point where a challenge can become punishment, and I felt that with this most recent half marathon goal.
I love running – I don’t have to love half marathons
Obviously, one has to train for a half marathon and I diligently increased my long run distance each week as part of the preparation.
Anything longer than 15 km became a real struggle for me.
I love running, but I was not even loving the long runs in training, let alone the half marathon itself.
But I’ve finally realised that I can love running without doing half marathons.
I think I’d made myself believe that I had to do challenging events like a half marathon to be a proper runner.
Um, I don’t.
The penny dropped as I struggled through that most recent event and reflected about how I hadn’t even enjoyed training for it.
Success vs failure – it’s all about perception
I’m very proud that I had a go and completed my fifth half marathon at the age of 55.
Once I got over missing my PB time goal, I realised it was a great achievement after all.
I’ve overcome a lot to keep running because I absolutely love it and can’t live without it.
I have osteoarthritis in all my lower limb joints and menopause has thrown a few curve balls that impact my exercise.
My recovery from this ‘failed’ half marathon was remarkable, I was barely sore and only for a couple of days.
I prepared my body well and if I gauge success on my recovery, then I did amazing!
Reclaiming my joy for running
But that’s it for me – no more half marathons.
I’m realigning with my philosophy of exercise and only running for enjoyment from here.
Check in with yourself from time to time to make sure your exercise has not turned into punishment.
It should make us feel awesome not awful.
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