What’s getting in the way of your fitness growth? Is it the bullshit stories you tell yourself? Is your actual training plan causing you to lose motivation? Lately, for me, it’s been a little of both, with a sprinkle of injury mixed in.
Running is often a solitary activity which challenges you on so many levels. I’ve personally pounded thousands of miles these past two years alone. This gives me a lot of time to think and get in touch with myself, but it also can be lonely. While I don’t truly mind a nice long run with my music, there’s nothing like a nice long run with your running friends. Time goes by so fast when you’re chatting it up and as an added bonus it takes your mind off the other stuff that comes up when running alone.
The problem I’ve had this past year, aside from injury, is that I was doing heart rate training. This training really forced me to avoid group runs as I’ve had to slow my pace to a crawl to keep my heart rate in the right zone. Worse still, it’s taken some of the fun and joy out of running for me. I thought it was the training itself and slow pace of it that bothered me lately, but realize now it’s the connection to people I’m missing most. Like everything else in life, human connection sparks excitement and motivation. I’m missing my running tribe.
I’ve decided to rethink some of my training because I’m feeling like I’m in a running slump. I’m losing motivation because I’m not feeling like I’m part of anything beyond solitary miles of running. I miss running on the boardwalk with my running friends and running without constantly checking my HR watch to see if I’m in the right zone. I’ve made running have way too many rules and somehow lost its joy in the process. It’s time to take back control over how I train and find some balance in my plan.
First, I need to connect to people during some of my runs and move away from worrying that doing that would violate some HR rules. On these runs, I plan to leave my HR chest strap home and concentrate on the beautiful scenery and conversation. I also have some running clubs that I joined last year and while I participated in online conversation, I never went to one run because I was worried about the plan I was doing and the targets I had to hit. This year I plan to attend the group runs and not care if I’m at the back of the pack and again the chest strap can just stay home. I will certainly run at a comfortable effort and not overdo it, but I don’t need that darn watching beeping constantly. There are so many great people in both of my groups who are on a similar journey to mine. I can’t wait to go, share the journey and connect on my first run tomorrow morning!
Next, I need to balance my training. I’m not giving up on heart rate training because I know the research shows it is right for me. Instead of doing only heart rate based runs, I plan to do a mix of different types of runs. This should increase my motivation and rekindle excitement about running. I plan to reread Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 book and work out a training plan that works for me. The premise of the plan is to balance your training for growth, including tempo, easy and long runs. I used to love running pick ups after each miles they really made it more interesting and spread the speed work across miles, helping me improve my pace without overtaxing my body.
I’m also really looking forward to doing some local fun runs this year. I had stopped doing them in favor of doing larger races. Since NYC marathon is my goal race this year, my focus is solely on that race. I am not planning to do a lot of other races, just local races that I can enjoy. There are so many wonderful races right here on Staten Island that I truly enjoyed in the past. No stress with traffic or parking, just convenient fun workouts. The first of these races is rapidly approaching and I’m super excited to do it with my team – Little Red Runners. This will be our third year running this Memorial Day race and this year they’ve improved the after party. Here’s our beautiful team at last year’s run:
Finally, I’m coming to accept that I am a slow runner, always have been – even in my twenties. It’s truly fine because an eight minute mile and a thirteen minute mile are truly the same thing – a mile. It really doesn’t matter how long it takes, it matters that I’m doing it. I can put to rest this quest to run an eight minute mile because for now it’s just not going to happen. I can’t make pace my priority anymore as it only serves to make me feel bad about myself. Anything that removes enjoyment from my run is no longer welcome. This journey is about being healthy and I’m not winning any race anytime soon. My goal has always been to finish the race and stay healthy. I have to go back to reminding myself of that. I’ve even washed my favorite shirt and will likely wear it to the Memorial Day race in a few weeks.
What’s holding you back from fitness growth? Is it the bullshit stories you’re telling yourself? Please share below and let’s get back on track together.
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