I once wrote in a post a couple of years ago about comparing ambition to a fire. How it starts off as that little flicker in the pit of your stomach that ignites every time you think about a tough challenge. And how you should let that flicker grow into flames. Let it burn. Add fuel to it. Give it life.
Well, I think I’m down to my last fading embers. Allow me to explain….
In the build-up to our wedding I took a bit of time out from running and racing and inevitably lost a lot of speed and fitness. (No regrets over here by the way, I’d do the same again in a heartbeat, just telling it like it is). After our honeymoon I was keen to get some of that speed back, and so was the start of many, many comeback runs.
I got into a cycle of pushing hard, seeing how my efforts were so far away from what they used to be and giving up, then getting motivated to start again…..cycle, rinse, repeat. But I kept at it and soon started reaping the rewards. After my 20:07 podium I had gotten the bug back and was keen to keep trying for a sub20.
I raced the Littleborough 5k the week after (a significantly tougher course with a steep incline) and was thrilled with 20:12 and second place – a measly five seconds behind the winner. Big confidence boost.
Another week later and another race, this time the Fastrax 5k. It’s a flat, wonderfully fast course and conditions were great. I’d had another good week of training and went for it. End result – 19:40.
Brilliant, right? For a couple of days, yes. It was great, I was chuffed for clawing my way back to a decent sub20 again. But a few days later I was very much ‘so what?’. Why had it mattered so much to me to get that 19:XX back? Why should I need that to have confidence in myself? Does it make me a better person? Nope. Am I really doing this for me? To make me happy? Probably not.
Since I took up running in 2012 I have continually moved the goal posts forward. To run a quicker time; to run a further distance. Fell races ticked off, ultras ticked off, relays ticked off. I have pushed myself so far out of my comfort zone so many times I think I’d need a GPS location to find where exactly my comfort zone lies now. Sub20 5k, sub40 10k, sub90 half marathon and sub 3:15 marathon ticked off. Constantly upping the stakes, pushing the training, eager to reach my potential.
Do I think I’ve reached my potential in running? No, I really don’t (trying not to sound like self-conceited arse here but I know I could achieve more if I gave it more time and effort). And so the big question – do I want to put the time and effort into trying to achieving those faster times? No. I do not. Not anymore.
At the moment I’m running about 20 miles a week. To get some serious PBs I’d probably have to double or even triple that, depending on the distance of the goal race. To get back running at 5am, work all day and then get back out there at 6pm. Honestly, I’m reet for that right now (northern speak for ‘no thank you’!).
So is this a oh it’s getting too hard work now so I’m just going to give up kind of whinge? Maybe it is. But I’m being honest with myself about my priorities. I don’t want to put in the time it takes. I want to go out for a run because it’s nice outside/the trees look pretty/I want some quiet time. Not because my plan tells me I have ten miles to do today at a particular pace. I want to rock up to a race because I want to spend time with this lovable lot, not because I have a time to tick off –
So I’m taking the lazy way out and I’m actually quite at peace with it. I’ll lose speed and I’ll lose fitness. But is that really important? Not to anyone that matters it’s not. I’m excited about running and lifting weights to be healthy and happy and because it’s fun. I’m excited about spending more time with my non-running/non-crossfitting friends. I might even be able to stay awake past 10pm on a Friday because I’m not totally exhausted from the week’s training ;-).
Goal chasing was fun for a few years – it was a blast at times. But it’s not what drives me anymore. It doesn’t make me happy. I am more than just a runner. *drops mic*