Happy Easter! Before I start this post – a quick shoutout for the Donate Life 5K/10K in Walnut Creek on September 9, 2017.
From their website: “Funds raised from the event go towards education of organ and tissue donation in the community, hospitals and outreach efforts as well as our annual Donor Family Gathering and research.” Registration is only $25 and goes up on April 30th. They’re also working on getting me a discount code to distribute to y’all, so stay tuned.
(p.s. I wasn’t compensated to advertise this race; just hoping to help out a local charity race. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…)
Get ready for some serious rambling/navel gazing!
At the beginning of 2017, I decided to make running trails my goal. Part of this goal was running 6 trail half marathons as part of the Brazen Ultra Challenge. Unfortunately, with the relocation of the Badger Cove Half to Wildcat Canyon last month, I decided to scrap that goal because it meant I’d have to race at Wildcat Canyon twice in 2 months, and pay for the privilege of doing so.
In the meantime, I’ve been contemplating my running goals, which has been difficult mostly because of lack of motivation. I knew that, even as I was training for CIM last year, I was facing serious burnout, but I didn’t realize how bad it would be. I recently just celebrated a 5-year blog-a-versary here at Running Tangents (yay!) and during that 5-year span, I’ve had a few dips in motivation here and there, but nothing as bad as these last 5 months. It’s not just mental/psychological (which I partially blame on the current President), but I also feel like crap physically. Since I’m not running much, I expect my legs to feel fresh, but alas, it feels like each run is slower than the last. Yesterday, I did a 10-mile long run along the very flat Bay Trail and averaged 11:50/mile, my slowest long run (on non-trails) in ages. Is this is what I get for saying that 11:26/mile would feel unnaturally slow?
After CIM, I was definitely ready to take a break. I figured I’d take a month off and only run when I wanted to. I tried to prioritize spending time with family and friends, sleeping in, and taking care of personal and professional matters that I had put on the back burner. December came and went…then in January, I decided to become a more well-rounded athlete and plunged into crosstraining. Which was fun, but became unsustainable. I felt like I was still being pulled in too many directions.
At some point, I asked myself, “Why am I stressing myself out about exercising? What is the point if I’m not enjoying it?” I also started wondering how healthy I truly was – in particular, my diet/nutrition was in shambles. I had started using running as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted, whether that meant donuts, soda, fast food… I was eating junk and feeling like junk. It showed in how lethargic I felt and in my ever-expanding waistline. I don’t like to talk about weight on this blog, because I think women have enough body image issues as it is, but when the excess pounds are a result of unhealthy eating and lifestyle, I think that needs to be addressed. However, I’ll confess that I’m motivated by vanity as well – we’re going to Mexico in June (hello bikini!) and then I have two events in June and July where I have to wear body-hugging dresses. Nothing wrong with multiple motivations, right? 😉
Anyway! Back to running goals…I’m still contemplating what the plan is for the rest of this year. My current goals are modest – run 3-4 times a week, averaging about 20-25 miles per week, and try to fit in an hour of crosstraining. I’d like to keep doing long runs on the weekends to maintain my endurance, even though I’m not technically training for anything. Two weeks ago, I did a solo trail run at Lake Chabot. A few of the trails were still closed due to storm damage, but I managed to get 9 miles in. Last weekend, a small group of friends and I did a gorgeous run in the Marin Headlands.
Even with such optimal conditions, I’m not experiencing the endorphin rush that I used to get from group runs. My weekday runs feel like a chore currently. My plan for now is to switch from morning runs to lunch or afternoon runs. I’ve found that in the past, shaking up the routine was exactly what I needed to get myself out of the running doldrums.
The other thing that works for me motivation-wise is to start training for a race. I’ve been hesitant to do so, though, because of the whole burn-out thing. I’ve decided that whatever race I sign up for next as a “goal race” will be one that I’m truly passionate about, not just because it was convenient or there was a really good discount code (my Achilles heel). Since I’m going to have a very busy May, June, and July, I think something in the late summer/fall will be best.
Currently, the idea that most floats my boat is a 10K series: Brazen Summer Breeze (8/5) and the Race to End of Summer 10K (9/3). I thought about doing the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll 10K (10/7), but unfortunately I’ll be out of town that weekend. If anyone has a good suggestion for a flat and fast 10K in October, please let me know! There are a couple of aspects of a 10K series that I like. First, instead of putting all of my eggs in one basket (goal race), each race presents an opportunity to PR (best case) and to practice 10K racing (worst case). Second, I’ve never trained for a 10K so it will be a new learning experience. Third, (I expect but don’t know for sure) that 10K training will incorporate the parts of training that I enjoy most, which are a mix of intervals and endurance, but it won’t be as high mileage as a half or full marathon. Forth, 10K is a distance that I can race once a month and not get burned out (I don’t think). Finally, training for a 10K PR will put me in a position to hopefully take some minutes off of my half marathon PR, which I view as a soft/easily targeted PR (not as soft as my marathon PR, but I’m not about to train for another marathon anytime soon – a subject for another post).
OK, I think that’s enough rambling for now. If you’ve ever experienced burnout or a significant lull in your running motivation – tell me about it. What (if anything) worked to get you out of your funk?