Lowest monthly mileage- has running lost its spark?
I started tracking my mileage more completely in 2020. Prior to that I just ran and had a round about idea of how far I had run, unless of course I was in training cycle and I was hitting my key run and weekly mileage. Cue the pandemic in 2020 and my mileage jumped from on average 65-70 miles a month to 100 miles and steadily climbed to 130 miles a month. I obsessed over keeping track of miles and running streaks. Running was my cure for all the uncertainly surrounding the pandemic. Plus, I had more time than ever to run. It felt like the right amount to run and sooner or later I’ll get back there, but for right now I’m listening to my body and focusing on core/strength training as a component of my overall training.
July was different for a variety of reasons. I ran a Half Marathon at the beginning of the month and wait for it…I actually tapered. That gave me a dip from my normal 25-30 miles a week to just over 19 miles for the week. Following the race, I actually gave my body a day or two to recover rather than going right back into running. For months on end during what I’ll call “pandemic running” I ran every day. Didn’t think twice about it. Insisted my body didn’t need a rest day. And you know what, my body is tired. It needs a rest. And for once I’m actually listening to it. I went back to work full time. My dad entered hospice.
For the first six months of the year I was on pace to reach my overall mileage goal of 1500 miles on the year. In 2019 I ran just over 500 miles, last year I had set a goal of 1000 miles and then upped it to 1300 when I knew I was going to blow by 1000 miles. It’s now the beginning of August and I’ver run 827 miles. After being on pace to hit 1500, I’m now 50 or so miles off pace. Strava was always a fun push to stay on target and right now it just feels like it’s judging me for not hitting my miles. Maybe I was unrealistic when I set my goal. Maybe my year of pandemic running wasn’t really the one to use as a benchmark for setting this year’s goal. Maybe it’s ok if we don’t hit our goals if our priorities are shifting a bit, oh and we go back to work full time, and we have real life stress.
When I started running again in 2019 I had no real expectations of hitting weekly miles or paces for races. The longer I’ve been running the more pressure I put on myself for more miles or set unreasonable expectations for races. Some of the spark has rubbed off and it’s started to feel more like a chore. Marathon training starts again this month and I need to get my head on straight to focus, stay healthy, eat properly and get some sleep. Running the marathon became this grand idea during the pandemic. When racing got canceled I shifted my focus to why I run (in addition to being healthy, setting a good example), but for those who can’t. I realize with each and every step how fortunate I am to be able to physically run. But more importantly, I’m running the NYC Marathon with the Alzheimer’s Association team, to honor my father. It was a two pronged theory- 1) running gave me something to do when I felt helpless and couldn’t do anything for him and 2) I was able to raise important dollars so that we can find a cure for Alzheimer’s. He’s reaching the end of his Alzheimer’s battle. And while I’m full of hurt, pain and emotion the one thing that always helped me feel better- lacing up my shoes just isn’t doing it for me. I didn’t run Saturday just because we had a lot going on. Sunday, came and he was having a particularly bad day. Following a tear filled call I opted for a movie with the boys. But then my youngest said, are you sure you aren’t going to run today too? Like he knew I needed that last little push to get out the door. I went. It was fairly terrible. I opted to run outside because it normally helps me clear my head. I cried a lot and I’m not quite sure the run had it’s desired effect. But my accountability partners- who know how much running needs to me were there to remind me when I was struggling. This is an amazing example of when you’ve made a healthy habit a routine and you fall of the wagon so to speak your “people” are there to remind you of why you do what you do.
Now it’s Monday. Up early, writing this post, rather than running before work. But I still have enough time to squeeze in three easy miles before starting my day. My why remains the same of honoring those who can’t run, of finding a cure for a dreaded disease, of setting a healthy example for my children and taking care of my body. So I will lace up my shoes and put one foot in front of the other. As with any other hard time in life we have to just keep moving forward- one step at a time.