On running and blogging at the moment.

This is the second time I’ve started this blog post. The original post was basically a big moan about how over the past few weeks, I’ve totally lost my running mojo. I just don’t love running at the moment. I’ve been working towards the Healdsburg Half Marathon in October. Usually I LOVE a goal race. I love putting together a training plan, I love executing the training plan, I love doing the race. It’s normally something that gives me a lot of pleasure.

This August though, nothing is going to plan. There are a few reasons that spring to mind. The Husband has been away on and off, and will be for a few more weeks. This means more stroller running which isn’t a total joy and results in slower times. Also, we’re not in our usual ‘school-year’ routine, which always makes fitting a run into the day a little harder. But when I was out walking our latest canine houseguest today, it kind of struck me WHY I’m not loving running at the moment.

It feels so ridiculously trivial at the moment.

Like all of you without a doubt, the news from the Middle East has caused much sadness. The news always seems to be grim, but these current events in Syria, Gaza and especially Iraq just seem (to me) to be a new level of horror. The news always seems worse when it strikes a chord in our own hearts. We runners were particularly hard hit by the Boston Bombing. We parents (and anyone who loves a child) were particularly hard hit by the Sandy Hook killings. I don’t talk much here about my faith as it would be inappropriate, but as a Christian, the treatment of the Christians and Yazidi in Iraq has felt very personal. It’s left me feeling heart-broken, helpless and that most things in my day-to-day life is shallow, frivolous and silly.

I am sure I’m not the only one feeling this way. Posting on Facebook seems rude when our fellow human-beings are being massacred on the other side of the world. Blogging about running makes me feel very disrespectful. And yet, awful as it is to say, life here goes on relatively unchanged and we continue to run and blog and use social media. I’m as uncomfortable with it as you are.

So I’ve been trying to remember three things.

1) Running is not important but it is good.

I’ve always tried to remember that running isn’t important. It’s a hobby, it’s something I love, but it’s not important in the grand scheme of things. So whilst I struggle with the running doldrums at the moment, I am actually quite comforted to remember this. It isn’t important. I’m NOT going to worry about it.

However running is good. It is good for our bodies. It is good for our minds and souls. It is good for our mental health. It is a means of pushing ourselves and achieving things we didn’t think were possible. It gets us out in the fresh air. It keeps us fit and healthy. Running is GOOD.

Marin Trails Me

Blogging is not important but it is good.

I’ve struggled a little to blog since the horrors of Iraq came to the news. Moaning about not hitting my goal times in a training run suddenly seems SO trivial and so disrespectful to those who are suffering.

However blogging is not a bad thing. My blog is only small but it has been so good to me. I have made so many lovely friends through this blog – either in real life or online. I’ve been inspired and challenged by all your achievements and of other people from blogworld. It has opened up opportunities like the Wild West Relay. It has encouraged me to run faster, to race harder and best of all to run trails. It’s made me feel like part of a running community, even though I run mainly by myself.

We did it!
We did it!

The only blog posts I’ve written that HAVEN’T felt trivial lately have been my Running The World posts. I love doing them because they open the world up to me (and, from your comments, to you as well.) I have loved discovering how running is helping empower women across India and Zimbabwe. I loved hearing about how the Beirut Marathon has helped unite Lebanese runners of different faiths. I was so happy to hear that in France, where women are continuously encouraged to be thin and have no cellulite, women are starting to love being strong and fit. These posts have reminded me how running can be a source for real good! So whilst blogging is narcissistic and trivial  by nature, it can also be good and I am grateful for it.

Racing is not important.

I love racing. I freely admit that my 10k PR in February and my Half-Marathon PR in March brought me ENORMOUS delight and a lingering sense of satisfaction, badassery and pride in a job well done. I love the atmosphere of race day and the ‘race-day magic’ as Angela put it which somehow drives us to speeds we didn’t think we could do. I’ve been really excited about running Healdsburg in October. Racing can be the culmination and prize of all the hard work we put in on a day to day basis. I don’t want to denigrate racing at all – racing  can be AWESOME.

But I’m not going to stress about my October running goals. I’m not going to stress about my splits not showing any real consistent improvement. I’m not going to spend any time wondering if I’m going to PR in October. Because racing isn’t important. It’s the icing on the cake and I thoroughly enjoy cake without icing.

Cake without icing can also be good
Cake without icing can also be good

So what now?

After all these grandiose thoughts, where does this leave my running?

I’m just going to keep on keeping on with my training plan. I shall stick with it as much as possible and, come September when the Dude starts school and we’re back in a routine, I shall try to push harder.I am not even going to register for Healdsburg until nearer the time, and if I am too late and it’s full – then so be it.  I’m also going to try and get on the trails soon because they never fail to refresh the running spirit.

Sara, in Running The World: Sweden put it so beautifully.

I’ve come to the conclusion that running a 10k race 30 second faster, or so, won’t make me happier. But running in beautiful places will. That’s quite an insight which has completely changed the way I run, and made it more fun and more meaningful.         

I knew I’d need to remember that at some point!


headlands me

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Julie says:

    Love your blog and absolutely love running! Keep up both please! Xx

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you so much – I’m definitely going to continue both, I didn’t mean to imply I was giving up either. I guess I was trying to put into words the mixed emotions I have about both at the moment!! I really appreciate your comment though.

  2. Sharyn says:

    A very thoughtful (and heartfelt) post. I agree that there seem to be unimaginable horrors in the world currently. Was it always like this, just that we were not aware of them when growing up, or has it truly become more intolerant and violent (and misogynistic)? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it and actually a bit helpless (followed quickly by guilt because we don’t have to try to survive in the middle of it). I don’t know what the answer is, although I do think you are right to focus on activities that keep us healthy and in good mental health.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. Despite spending ages trying to word the post correctly, I’m not sure I was clear in what I was trying to say but I think you understood what I was getting at. Yes, there IS guilt isn’t there that our lives are so much easier and go on more or less as before. I do think the world is darker than it was. Maybe I’m wrong, I’m sure the cold war was pretty grim, but I worry for my son and the world he’ll grow up in.

      But in the meantime, we’ll keep running 🙂

  3. Wonderful perspective on life. We can not control what is happening all around but at times we need to use our running and blogging as a release for us. Help us to process the unbelievable things that happen in our world. I still want to hear about your PR’s but I especially love to read about the wonderful places you go to do your runs or how your family is getting along and growing. You bring a smile to my face and sometimes that is all I need to make my week. 🙂

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment, I do appreciate it. I also think you’re right – that running and blogging do help us process things that are kind of beyond our brains! I’m really not sure that I expressed my thoughts clearly (I’m not sure they’re clear themselves) but I am so grateful for your comment and understanding.

  4. Paulette says:

    I’m with you on beautiful places – inspires me way more than big PRs. 🙂

  5. Nic J says:

    Ditto all of the above.
    And don’t underestimate the power of running for good. Think of all the fundraising that you, me, and millions of others have done, just by running! The awareness that running brings to certain issues (think Race for Life, and the institution for good that that has become), and the way running unites us and makes us collectively, as a race, stronger and better people (you’ve mentioned Boston, but there are loads of other examples).
    The people who excel and PB at running events are inspiring, no doubt. But I get 1000% more inspired when I see the London Marathon crowds setting off, particularly the thousands still trying to cross the start line 15 mins after the start gun went off (which was me – 5 1/2 hours and proud of it!). And then read their vest messages of who they’re running for. And then I cry. And then I immediately want to put my trainers on and go and be one of them! One of you. One of us.
    Keep doing what you’re doing please – being cheerful and joyous proves there’s an alternative to the nasties out there!!

  6. Jen says:

    I’ve also felt guilty recently posting frivolous things on social media, while turmoil erupts abroad and in the States (i.e., Ferguson). But I then remind myself that there’s the outside world, which despite all of my empathy, I can do very little to change, and my immediate world, on which I have a huge impact. I guess what I’m saying is that you’re allowed to focus on (and blog about) running and not be a frivolous person!

    Also, totally agree about racing. It is definitely just the icing on the cake!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I love what you say about the fact that, whilst we can’t make significant differences as regards the big world news stories, we can make a difference locally. You’re so right. I’m going to focus on that. Great point.

  7. bt says:

    This post reminds me of a very empathetic friend of mine whose therapist recommended that she could either go on meds or go on a news diet. She was ingesting and spending time thinking about and worrying about way too many stories regarding suffering and horror that she could not do anything about and it was negatively affecting her stress levels and mental health. She didn’t give up on news entirely, but she limited her intake and mental/emotional processing to a set amount of time every day. The rest of her day she made a conscious effort to be present, helpful, and loving in her daily activities with a goal of affecting change locally (much like Jen mentioned). She claimed it made a huge difference in her quality of life.

    1. Cathryn says:

      I think I might have been overwhelmed by the news over the weekend but I did step away a little. Having said that, if it were me suffering like that, I would want those lily-livered people in the west to BE uncomfortable and to be aware of my pain – it feels disrespectful to ‘ignore’ their suffering. It’s a hard balance to find.

      But as you and Jen say – we need to work out how we can affect the world around us for GOOD, that’s at least something we can do.

  8. Bean says:

    I totally agree and sympathize with this post. It is hard to not feel frivolous but I know I can do very little to influence what is going on but I do have the power to hopefully inspire individuals to make a healthy choice and while not the same magnitude, I feel it is important none the less.

    1. Cathryn says:

      I agree – I really do. I just feel so frustrated that I/we/all of us are so flipping powerless to make a difference where it’s actually needed! Grrr…..

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