Friday, April 6, 2012

How to Get Out of a Running Funk

The Dalles
 I have no idea.  I suppose the best answer is to run out of it.  It’s been a rough year, physically, that’s probably part of.  It’s been a crazy wet winter and early spring, that’s probably part of it too.  Although I really enjoy running alone, I’ve probably spent too much time running in my own head.  I’m probably over the apex of my running performance life.  At 48 years old, I think deep down, I might be realizing that my fastest times are behind me, and none of them are as fast as I hoped they would be before this happened.  Maybe this just happens to everybody at times.  Running has been awesome for me, because it very rarely feels like work.  This is the first time in 8 years and 16,000 miles of running that I’ve started regularly dreading workouts.  I’m fine physically.  In fact after a year filled with a torn shoulder labrum, three sprained ankles, plantar fasciitis and other assorted ailments, I feel as good right now as I have in a long time.  My race calendar is a little lighter this year than past years, but there is still plenty to keep me motivated.

There is the weight issue.  I never really got down to racing weight, ever, last year.  I hovered around 156 pounds all year and only got down to 154 for Western States.  I can usually get under 150 for races.  I ran Autumn Leaves 50 miler in October at 158 pounds and swore I would never race at that weight again, it feels like pulling an anchor around. After taking a few low mileage months through the Winter my weight hovered around 160.  Lately I’ve been between 155 and 157, but with Eugene Marathon 4 weeks away, it looks like I’ll be racing in the 150’s.  Maybe this comes with age too, I don’t know.

2 things have really troubled me, and ultimately forced me to take a few days off and really think about why I am doing any of this.  One, I’ve cheated, and I’ve done it more than once.  I run a weekly 10 mile tempo run, on a track.  It’s just 40 laps, all supposed to be exactly the same time.  Ideally, those laps should be 1:57.....but consistency is the key.....if they were 2:00 but consistent, that would still be a quality workout.  A few times in the last month, I’ve cheated.  Somewhere around mile 6, when it starts to get hard, I’ve stopped my watch and stopped running for a while, enough to allow my heart rate to drop and get some oxygen through my body, then started up again.  Might not seem like a big deal, but it is.  I’ve recorded the times in my log as if I ran them legit.  I’ve even shared my times with others as if they were legit.  The second thing happened on Sunday.  20 mile run planned, and the wind was 20 mph and cold.  I headed out, into the wind, so that I could get a tail wind coming home.  The first 3 to 4 miles, it was just incredibly cold, then the rain started.  40 degrees and a hard wind driving rain, right into my face.  At the 7 mile mark, I could not convince myself to go another 3 miles into the wind.  I started bargaining with myself, “what if I turn around now, take the tail wind for a few miles, then figure out where to add another 5 ish miles to the route after I’ve warmed up etc”.  I turned around at 7.5, but I knew I was lying to myself.  I knew I wasn’t going to add 5 somewhere else.  I knew as I got closer and closer to home the magnet would just get stronger.

So, I’ve taken 3 days off.  I got a fantastic massage on Wednesday.  Deleted this week’s planned workouts in my schedule.  Last night I ran what sounded fun.  I ran to the Baskett Butte and had Jeanne pick me up at the trailhead.  I didn’t wear a watch, the pace felt playfully fast.  I saw a red tailed hawk, some osprey, a white tailed kite and a small herd of deer.  Tonight I’ll run what seems fun too.
More troubling than failed workouts or low mileage or aches and pains has been the fact that for the first time, running has not been an absolute joy in my life.  I’m going to find the joy, miles and times will just have to come along for the ride.

1 comment:

  1. I myself am in a running funk. I am no where near he athlete as you but I LOVE running. I was doing great until Sept. I am a self employed remodeler so I usually can make my hours work around a run. But I was hired on a job that is 8-5. Vey difficult to find time for a 1.5 mile run. Plus my dad got sick and ultimately died late Spt. Then daylight savings kicked in and then the cold weather came. I miss my running. I am 50 and enjoy being in better shape than 20 year olds I know. I was online looking for answers and encouragement.