Then I Learnt This Powerful Trick to Keep Going.
I figured I was always active (I was at basketball six days a week, be it playing, coaching, or officiating). To me, this was enough to stay ‘healthy’…
It was in university where I decided to give running another shot after three years away from it. I entered the local 10k fun run and thought that would be it. I ran it, I enjoyed the atmosphere but hated my time and how I felt during it. I quit running (again). Two years later I ran the same race with my dad. If his competitive side came out, he would have annihilated me. Instead, he saw me struggling and stayed close by. It would be another four years before I put on running shoes again.
Same Old Story
In 2012, I had just been laid off from a start-up job I really enjoyed. I had time on my hands and hit the gym hard to keep me distracted in between applying for jobs and interviews. I was also going to be the best man, at my best friend’s wedding, so there was my motivation to drop a few pounds. I started getting up at 6 am every morning and hit the road and run 1 mile. The plan was to increase it to 2 miles once I was able to sustain a 10-minute mile for 7 days in a row… It never happened, I went home for my friend’s wedding and stopped running…again.
Even in my latest running chapter, which started again back in 2017, has had me come to the same fork in the road. Do I push through? or quit…again. I wasn’t happy with my progress. I kept hold of how I used to be with running in high school, and how I usually took to sports like a duck in water. It was frustrating not to be able to run five minutes without feeling like my lungs were about to explode. My times were getting better-ish. I was scraping away at personal bests by the seconds, not minutes.
I was ready to quit.
I was venting my frustrations one day and another runner chimed in:
“How do you feel when you run?”
Most of the time, I felt great except when I needed to stop and then frustration kicked in, but for the most part, it was great. What he said next stopped me from quitting running for the last time:
“Then why does it matter what time you got when you’re enjoying yourself?”
And that is when it hit me. My goals and focus in running were ALL WRONG! The only metric I used to determine whether I was succeeding at running was time and ONLY time.
What I didn’t pay attention to was that I felt stronger, I could run the ten minutes before our usual 60-second walk break, I was losing weight, I was becoming a stronger runner. There were so many positives going on in my running, but I was blinded by the times.
I was guilty of constantly looking down at my watch for pace checks, timing, etc., which would drive me crazy if I started too quick, or was running behind pace. This would put me in a rut and sometimes would kill a run for me.
Sure it’s nice to have goals in mind for my 5k (sub-25 mins), 10k (sub-55 mins), and the half (sub-2 hours). Now, every race and training run I go into now has absolutely ZERO time goals. I just simply run without the pressure of time. Simply focusing on how I feel while running is my ONLY focus. If I focus on that, AND I get a PB, then that’s an added bonus!
The following year (2019), I ran consistent (29:30 - 31:00 minute) 5k runs, my 10k PB was 1:05:47. In 2019, I ran faster in FIVE out of my six 10k races including my first sub-60 minute race. None of which I knew were quicker until I had crossed the line. I was riding high on HOW I ran.
Without the pressure of time, my enjoyment for running increased to levels completely beyond what I thought. So why put yourself through that? Seriously?
You Do You
One of the reasons for me writing this is that I see a lot of runners (especially new ones), starting off posts with phrases like:
· I know it’s not fast
· I’m not a fast runner
· I had to walk some of this
Et cetera, et cetera…
I’m sorry to say this, but your time is not important to me! It never will be!
Sure, I’ll celebrate your PBs and give your virtual high fives, because they are worth celebrating. BUT, what I am more interested in is knowing how did you feel while running? Whether you enjoyed yourself? Did you learn anything while running?
There is no such thing as a ‘slow’ runner. You are a runner! Whether you have been running a week or twenty plus years. Just remember, a 60-minute 5k is just as far as a 15-minute 5k.
Stop beating yourself up on your times! We don’t run for times (the elites do, us mere mortals do not), we most likely started running to better ourselves, to improve our health. Those things do not have times attached to them.
What Did You Learn?
Not every run is a race against the clock. On Sundays, I usually go on a long run where I deliberately slow down. Maybe I am trying a different technique or product to fuel my body for those long runs, so again time isn’t my priority. Did I feel good? Did my body react the way I wanted it to? Could I have pushed myself a bit more here or there?
This is a chance for me to reconnect with my body and really focus on my goals, focus on whether I’m on track to finish a race, or whether my training is working. If I feel great, strong, and enjoying myself, great! If not, I use this time to learn what is wrong, what can I change, and whether it is simply that I’m having a bad day, a bad run or something else outside of running is impacting me (work, stresses, etc.).
Training is Never Wasted
As I talk about mindset and really focusing on what is important in running, I’d like to also address another big thing I am seeing online. In today’s world, races are getting cancelled or postponed. Too many times I am seeing comments about wasting all that time training for the race. What was it all for?
IT SUCKS! IT REALLY DOES! I feel you, I really do. I’m disappointed about the races I’ve been looking forward to running this year (Achilles 10k, Toronto Waterfront 10k, Pride Run, Manchester half next month just to name a few).
However, your running journey wasn’t going to end after that race now was it? Sure it was your first race or even your 100th. But you don’t run or didn’t start running, just to run that one event. You were most likely still going to keep running after it. Use that training and motivation you had for your lost race, and propel yourself forward towards your next one (whenever that may be). Use this time to hone in on your training, learn what works, what doesn’t. You have laid the foundation, you wouldn’t just abandon it now?
You do not need the races to keep running. You do not need the medals, or the bibs to keep running. Chances are, you were going to run another race after that one. Just dust yourself off, and hit the road again.
The comeback is always stronger than the set back.
Now get out there and keep going!
About the Author
Our guest author this week is David Hampson. Here's a little more about David...