My running season is near an end. I have a few more races in the bag before the year ends but I am not that excited about them like I am usual do with my previous races. On a scale 1-10, with 10 is the best, they are like a 4 to me. Yes they are still interesting…but I think I have run just one too many races. It is like trying to eat when you are full.
What does this mean? I am trying to process my thoughts and emotion. Races used to be super duper good. I used to have that anticipation from six months out, then two months and the week of and the hours before a race. Now, I have to check my schedule every weekend, oh, did I sign up for that? Guess I am going away again. Usually I don’t pack until the last final moment. Don’t get me wrong that I have become jaded, maybe a little, but as you can tell from my race reports, I am still super excited of every single one of them that I had done, like the last EC marathon I ran. It is that, there is so much more “drag” now aday when I prepare for a race, maybe it is a mental drag or resistance to running a race.
Maybe it is burnout. Couple other runners on a Facebook group page I am part of, posted similarly to what I am experiencing this week. And aha, so am I experiencing it! I am in my 4-5 years of running. I started at the end of 2016.
For example, there was an annual 10 miler in my neighborhood the past weekend. Usually I signed up weeks or months in advance, this year I waited until the day of and in the end, I did not have the will power to get up to run it. I didn’t sign up, but I could if I really wanted to. This has never happened before to me of skipping a race, since I love racing! Granted, I rationalized that missing this one race was not as important as missing a marathon! But in the past, a race is a race no matter the distance, because I would be just as thrill as running a 30 mins race or a 30 hours race! I did miss that race because I just couldn’t pull myself together to go do it. If I have an opportunity to do a race, I would do it! Races were like a treasure to me.
I know it is always ok to take a rest sometimes. I am more concern of my inactivity. I wanted to do it but couldn’t will myself into action. Don’t do it if I don’t want to do it as long as I am happy, right?
Maybe I did not have enough down times or rest between a race to process all my feeling, of all the highs and the lows of running one. Not that races are no longer giving me the trills, it is maybe that I forced myself to forget about them as soon as it is over and move onto the next one immediately and when you have repeatedly doing it week after week for so many times, they all become a blur. I ran like 9-10 big races this year, with possibly the biggest one back in February. Truthfully, I have never truly recovered from it. Physically yes I recovered, but not mentally and emotionally. Not that it broke something inside me, but something indeed is not the same. Surely, I do want to run an epic race again! It is hard to explain.
Physically, I can run race after race each weekend. We are talking of marathon level runs. But it is also the mental toll – the stress in preparing for the race and also the emotional soup afterward.
I noted that usually after a major race, I had a crash. Emtionally drained. It is like being in a hard fought battle. This led to a period of a mini depression sometimes. As they say, every high has its low.
Last two weeks, was like a mentally forced down time on me. I lost all motivation to run after the EC marathon. Again it was not that I don’t like running, but it was because I couldn’t bring myself to get my foot out the door, because I couldn’t get myself off the couch!
What am I getting at? Training is never easy. It takes effort at least some effort above the normal routine. Once I stayed inactive, it is hard to get back into training. To me, training is like running/going uphill. You beat one hill another hill pops up. You have to keep doing it. But on top this dealing with the after race effect made it almost impossible to do any training.
I had the postrun problem after the recent marathon in Wiscousin (Eu Claire – EC Marathon for short). EC Marathon did provide that extreme high-feeling-good vibe, but afterward, it was like the tide has gone out. This is not a feeling of depression but a feeling of actually being normal. I don’t think I was in a depressed state. Right? I felt I lived a normal person life for once – waking up, going to work, coming home, and ralaxing by watching ‘TV’ – not really TV per se, but similar, letting the brain rot in front of social media. Knowing too much sedatary is harmful to mental health and my training, but it was too tempting to just do nothing. Social media is designed to draw our clicks and eyeballs! Aptly Facebook was in a hot seat this week with the Senate hearing. I was like that every day after work for two whole weeks! I was in a social media trap and unable to get myself out.
I guess by me writing out my thought process can help me get back to my training. Over all, I want to reach the end – like in a race eventually, there is an end point. There are several big goals I wanted to reach, such as maybe running a 200 miler couple years from now, and so I need to get to that level of fitness. It means running the races I am doing today.
In my previous post, I set out my races, my “cornerstones” for next year. I already signed up a few of them for next year. It is like a track that will lead me to an end. You lay down the important ones first and everything fall around them. I think though none of them are likely critical races for reaching the so call “next level” (200 miler fitness). They are like small little ones. Eventually I will get there. It might take couple of years to get there.
This post is kind of different from normal. It is my self-talk to get myself together. It is like house keeping for my mind. I broke down my goal/plan and remind myself constantly what they were. I likely and hopefully will run until I’m 60 years old or beyond. Yet my best physical condition is probably the next 10 years, even maybe the next 5 years. I am fighting against time too. If I could, I would go all out, that is, finish my 50 states marathon goal in one swoop. However, I am constrainted also by finance. Realistically, I can do maybe 3-4 marathons a year. Even if I double it, it still is taking a lot of time and effort.
I came up with a plan to break down the next 10 years in 3 phases. It is nothing like rocket science. It is something simple that I think is doable for me. The plan is, using 3 years to save up, and the fourth year, I can go out big abd push for one of those major goals. Then repeat. Next year is the third year of this first cycle. So hopefully, by 2023 or 2024 I can go and settle one of my big goals. This is not just for running. Currently the biggest goal I have is to trek the Annapurna circuit, that was what I really wanted to do after coming back from Patagonia. I want to see the mountains again. Not just any mountains but the massive large ones (that they would call them massif that would take days and weeks to scale). I want to do one thing that is life-chanching and unlike anything I did before. Annapurna is one of them at least to me. I might also do my 200 miler the same year. And maybe too I will reach 50% of my 50 states marathon! Annapurna is in the front. See my bucket list for all other goals.
I have been asking myself, what am I doing here. What am I trying to accomplish? I know I want to reach my limit and go beyond what I see as my wall. I thinking to borrow a motto from someone: Thinking what is impossible and attempting what is impossible. I didn’t come up with this. I googled, William Carey, a Christian missionary said something similar, you too can google it. I guess it all started from him.
This requires thinking unconventionally. Sorry this blog is long enough, but my last point is, as I looked back at my goals I already did, I realized at the time they were hard, but I was too conservative in achieving them. I have been taking too many baby steps. Why not just take one giant step? I should always ask myself, even though my prudent mind says this is the time table or solution to achieving this goal, can I push it to be 120% more? Say if I think it will take me 5 years to run all 50 states, is there a way to do it in 4 instead? I am critical of myself of being too safe with my goals. My point is we focus too much on what is feasible and dare not to venture into area where our mind says not possible.
Though I wrote all these things, but I can too quickly forget them…it all too easy, once I turn away, my mind focuses on something else. Sad. I want to remind myself to push on. This for me to read again and again to overcome whatever is dragging me down and derailing my plan.