While running can be hard, consistently running over a span of several years can be even harder.
I’ll be the first to admit that my running game has struggled as of late. Although I have mostly remained an active runner for the last six years, I have had a few stretches of time, sometimes for months, where I haven’t run… not even once.
Somehow I have always been able to find the gumption to pick the habit back up, but the older I get the more difficult that gets too. Starting over from scratch can be so defeating as a runner; it’s difficult to accept that a 7 mile run was challenging when you see on your Facebook timeline that you ran 22 miles on that same day three years ago.
This year the IMT Des Moines Marathon will be my tenth half marathon, which is an exciting accomplishment for ‘the girl always picked last in gym class.” I am also pretty proud of the fact that despite the challenges and distractions of life, I will be running my sixth straight year at the IMTDMM events.
Although I am proud of those facts, I also have to admit that I am feeling slightly defeated.
And very disappointed in myself.
This is the first time EVER that I have decided to run a shorter distance than I had initially committed to. Any runner will tell you that this is a tough pill to swallow. This year I had every intention of running the full marathon again. I have run the IMTDMM full marathon twice and have loved Every. Single. Part. (sans the bloody blisters, missing toenails, and quads so sore I can’t walk for a week, of course).
So when I recently registered for “just the half” I had to choke on my pride a little. I had to succumb to the fact that I did not commit to training as early as or as strict as I should have.
It’s really very simple: I am physically and mentally not ready to run a consecutive 26.2 miles right now.
Like most people who put off running I have a marathon of excuses, some of which are pretty valid, others of which are me just being lazy.
Honestly though? I just didn’t put in the time.
Now I am struggling with acceptance. It is difficult to stay excited about half marathons after you have previously run full marathons. I am known as “a runner” so when I talk to my (non-runner) friends, family and acquaintances, so I’m always asked if I am training for anything. I now find myself over-sensitively spouting, “I am only running the half this year,” or “Oh, just a half because it doesn’t require much training.”
That’s usually when these (non-runner) friends, family and acquaintances exclaim, “What? ONLY a half? Are you kidding me? I can’t even do a mile!” They defensively say, “Doesn’t require much training? Are you crazy? That’s almost offensive.”
You know what? They are actually right.
Why am I so hard on myself? After all, I am still running. Still training every day. Still putting the miles in. Still focusing on accomplishing something that IS challenging to me at this point in my life. Still beating all the people who are NOT running, NOT registering for races, NOT fighting back against all the excuses.
After thinking a lot about this I have come to terms with my decision, but it wasn’t easy.
Half marathons are actually pretty great. There are so many things that I enjoy about the half marathon distance. I mean, the training isn’t as grueling, they’ll still be plenty of food left after I’m done, I’ll get to cheer on more runners as they cross the finish line, and I won’t feel like I am going to die afterward (hopefully!).
So it will be okay. This year will be my Half Year. I am finally okay with that.
And who knows…
…there’s always next year. Right?