Sparkles and unicorns

I’m generally a cheerful person. By disposition, I’m perky and enthusiastic about most things and I’m nearly always perky and enthusiastic about running. So the past month or two has been a bit of a shock…because I have been very unenthusiastic about running lately. VERY unenthusiastic.

I feel the need to chip in before I say any more and make a disclaimer. I’m aware that this is such a ridiculously first world problem that I’m a little uncomfy even talking about it. I’m not in Syria. My family and I are healthy, housed, happy, fed…I have nothing at all to complain about. But sometimes running bloggers can make it seem as if running is always sparkles and unicorns. Sometimes I do that. But sometimes running is just not fun and it would be disingenuous to pretend that it is.

I haven’t loved running since Healdsburg. I loved training for Healdsburg, I loved the race weekend. But the race itself took some wind out of my sails. I missed my goal, I didn’t race well and I was disappointed. And since then, the running stars haven’t quite aligned.

I’ve been poorly pretty much all the time since then. Nothing serious at ALL, just cold after cough after cold after cough.I’ve had two stinking coughs that have lingered and lingered. I blame my adorable but germ-infested preschoolers. But I’ve not been able to stay healthy for more than a week or two at the most since mid October.  And on those healthy weeks, I’ve had my period so I’ve been swollen, sore and uncomfortable. Because of this, I’ve been unable to string together any weeks of solid training. I’d have a great week and I’d run all the miles and then the next week I’d be wiped out by some preschool germs and I’d be doing 10 slow miles as my weekly total, feeling rough!

On top of that, I’ve been eating too much so I’m several pounds above my happy weight. When you’re 5’1, that’s quite a big deal. So I’ve been feeling fat and ugly on top of unhealthy.

blerch 4

Because of the lack of consistent training and the extra pounds, running has never been comfortable. It’s always hard work and a long slog. I’ve been using RunCoach which I’ve been really enjoying for the structure and the variety of workouts…but I’ve failed to hit all my goal paces. And that, time after time, is depressing.

It came to a crunch last week. My most recent cough and cold wiped me out for three days, it was brutal and I did no running at all. On Thursday, I headed out for an hour.  I had been running for about three minutes when I just ground to a halt and stood there on the Bay Trail. I literally just stood there for three or four minutes, debating internally what to do. I didn’t want to run. I wanted to go and sit on the sofa.   I pulled myself together and started running again…and then just stopped again. NO desire to run. In the end, I ran three miles and I’m ridiculously proud of those miles because every inch was mind over matter.

I got home and discussed this with my running ladies. Jen suggested I take a break from running for a while, which is great advice. But as I reflected on it further, I realized I don’t want to take a break from running…I want to LOVE running again. I love riding my bike but no other form of exercise thrills me like running and no other exercise fits into my life as easily as running. I just want to love it again.

Me trails headlands

So I’m on a mission to fall in love with running again. And these are the things I’ve implemented to make that happen.

  1. Remove all the pressure.

The first thing I did was put my RunCoach membership on hold. I’ve been impressed so far  and I want to use it to train hard but I’m not consistently healthy enough to do that. So I froze my membership. Immediately I felt relieved, like the pressure was off. I love goal paces and goal workouts but that’s not helping me at the moment.

I have also have scrapped any expectation for the Kaiser 5k. A PR is hugely unlikely now. So I’ll concentrate on getting healthy and getting three weeks of consistent running under my belt and then I’ll race it as hard as I can on the day and be grateful for the fun.

Get healthy

This week, I spent a small fortune on vitamins. A good multivitamin, some iron tablets and omega tablets. I find the whole vitamin thing confusing but clearly my immune system isn’t the best right now and I want to build it up.

I’ve addressed my diet, cut out some (not all) of the cake and  I’ve started losing those Christmas pounds. Two pounds down.

Chase endorphins 

The trails are the easiest way to add joy to running and I’ve managed to run trails twice in the past two weeks. The first time, I ran Edgewood one afternoon and then this past Saturday I dragged Lisa and Eden to Wunderlich for some dawn running. The trails were wet both times from the recent storms. Trees were down, the trails had rivulets of water running down them, there was plentiful mud. Both times, the hills humbled me and reminded me of the extra weight, the lack of training, the germiness…but the endorphins made it totally worthwhile. I have a goal of 250 miles on trails this year and it’s lovely working towards it!

Wunderlich wunderland
Lisa and Eden on the blessed downhill
Edgewood looking lovely

So that’s where I am right now. I’m hoping to string together three or four weeks of solid easy running, 25-odd miles a week, no speed work and hopefully four weeks of better health. Not much to ask, eh?

Running isn’t always sparkles and unicorns…but hopefully I can find a little glitter again.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. ErinAMG says:

    Sorry that running is leaving you joy-less right now. 😦 It sounds like you’ve made some good decisions so far though. I’ll also throw one in there: make a bucket list. Now that you know you guys are moving, you know with some degree of finality that your days in the bay are numbered. Which races are out there that you’ve always wanted to run but haven’t? Which parks, trails, people (hiiiiiiiiii!), etc. It might give you more things to look forward to and help get your motivation back. Even on days when I don’t feel like going for a run, I’ll bargain with myself: just go for five minutes and assess. Ten minutes. One mile. Sometimes I turn around, but usually I realize that I am happier out there than I thought I’d be. xo (and yea, kids’ germs are the pits! I got a cold from my teething one year old. Not fun.)

    1. Cathryn says:

      Love the idea of a bucket list – working on it. Thanks!

  2. Angela says:

    I think the fact that you felt such relief when you stopped “training” says that’s the right thing. You’ll know when it’s time to start back again because you’ll really really keeping-you-up-at-night want it, rather than feeling like, “I SHOULD do this because x/y/z.” I also agree with Erin that maybe this is a time to think about your Bay Area bucket list & spend your time on running stuff/places that just makes you happy.

    And, unless you are making your living off running, I also think there is NOTHING wrong with deciding after pushing through a grumpy couple of miles that nope, you are really really really not feeling today. When I’ve felt that sour about a run & pushed through it, usually I’m just more sour about it the next day, whereas if I let it go & let myself do what I’d rather be doing (even if it’s sitting on the couch with Netflix), I feel re-energized the next day.

    The sparkles will come back soon! I feel certain!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I think so…hopefully just chilling for a few weeks and doing easy miles will bring back some joy. It’s just so weird to be so apathetic about running!!
      Working on my bucket list – anything you think I should add to it?

  3. Suzanne says:

    Trails – I LOVE LOVE LOVE trails. I will run on the pavement if I absolutely have to and on the dreadmill if I have zero choice but I will pick a trail any time. They are my happy place. Running is pure joy there. I hope it becomes your happy place too!

    1. Cathryn says:

      They are so very lovely, aren’t they. Roads are fine for everyday running and for training on, I like roads (usually) but trails always feel like a treat!!

  4. Layla says:

    It’s been several years, but I still clearly remember one day when I didn’t feel like running but forced myself out the door. I got a little more than half a mile into the run when I also stopped and stood there. I had no pains or reasons to stop, but I just did NOT want to keep going. I turned around and went home, feeling like a failure who wasn’t running when many other people couldn’t if they wanted to. But my lifelong positive view came creeping back with the thought that has fascinated me since childhood: What calamity did I avoid by turning around? I will never know, but maybe I missed falling and breaking my ankle, or maybe some distracted driver would have looked at me and then plowed into another vehicle. It’s more likely that nothing bad would have happened, but the bottom line is that I returned home safely and could still run any time I wanted. One skipped run, and even one skipped run, will not define me.

    Also, on taking a break… Mirinda Carfrae said in her talk this weekend that she takes a full week off from exercise in May and July before a big build-up — and this is someone who trains 35 hours a week. She takes this break so that she WANTS to get back out there. For someone who trains full-time, a week is a lot of time. And she’s none the worse for it. So, cut yourself some slack and know that running will wait for you if you need to take a break. And let’s go run the Headlands on the 28th — though I will have to do a lot of hiking since I’m not in trail/hill shape. 😉

    1. Cathryn says:

      Oooh interesting perspective about my rubbish run. Maybe I avoided a speeding cyclist on the Bay Trail!
      Hoping to come on the 28th…just need to get a permission slip from the Husband! On the case. I’ll hike the hills with you 🙂

  5. gracechua31 says:

    I am all for KonMari-ing your running. If that training plan does not bring you joy, THROW IT OUT NOW! I love Erin’s idea about the Bay Area bucket-list, and I would extend that to all of the US as well (how often will you get to visit?) (ok, I admit this is a selfish plug for you to visit me and/ or run the Providence half with me in May). Also, lots of colourful fruit and veg will kill two birds with one stone – boost your immunity and help you feel better about your nutrition!

    1. Cathryn says:

      We may not make Providence in May but we might well make the East Coast in July on our epic roadtrip…if you fancy some houseguests??

  6. bt says:

    Like the others, I’m fully in support of a break from training. I’m fully in the middle of one! (says the woman who headed out for her first outdoor “run” since December in Thailand today and did 1.75 total miles with much of it hiking up a very steep hill, only to encounter scary street dogs and have to walk back down the (too steep to run hill) to the level street where I bargained with myself for 10 minutes straight of *very* slow jogging in the 90% humidity”). I’ll join you in spirit on one of your bay area bucket list runs, pick one and count on it!

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