Running out of time

It’s been awhile since I’ve done any kind of obsessing or lamenting over my training for the upcoming One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon, or any racing for that matter, and I’m just positive that the lull in my running drama has left you concerned about my well-being. Don’t worry; I’m totally okay. I’ve just been internalizing well, everything lately. And that includes my running (especially my running).
It’s not like I can write anything on here about running that I haven’t already written before anyway, right? And nobody likes repetition. Or broken records.

But I’m not particularly concerned with any specific facet of my fourth mini marathon other than looming fear and doubt that I’ll be able to PR again. Based on how laborious my training was and how slowly I ran my first mini in 2010, I never expected to complete a sub-2 hour half marathon less than a year later. As I bragged incessantly on this blog last November, I completed the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon with a finishing time of 1:54:56. I thought maybe I’d finish that race around 2 hours flat—certainly not five whole minutes faster! I was surprised, and I kept that shock under wraps, hiding all feelings of bewilderment deep beneath my elation over the accomplishment. I wanted to come across to my friends and families as cool and demure, like, “Yes, it was no big deal. Really. No autographs, please.” But honestly, on the inside I was screaming, “DID ANYONE CATCH THAT ON TAPE?!!!”

And then I felt the inevitable, gnawing feeling of, “Now what?”

Next year I would really like to do the IU Mini Marathon because Indiana University is my alma mater and there would be virtual no traveling involved with entering this race. However, the IU mini is a notoriously hilly course and I almost don’t want to register for it simply because I know it won’t grant me a PR. Why does that matter? Because I’ve selfishly and stubbornly reconciled myself to the belief that I have to consistently improve at every single race. 

Where did that logic come from?

Am I really that much of a self-depreciating perfectionist?

Worse yet, am I really that narcissistic? That if I’m not consistently setting new records, I’m not interested?
Injury happens. Sickness happens. Random bouts of intestinal distress happen (trust me, they do). Fatigue happens. General feelings of “I’m so not feeling this today” happen.

Those occurrences are inevitable for runners.

And many, many of my runner friends have had bad races. They don’t PR every time. Sometimes they miss their “best race” time by more than 10 minutes. It happens. But I don’t see them totally freaking out about it and throwing their sneakers into the garbage in defeat. No, they accept their bad race and move on, learning what they can from the experience and continuously looking forward to the next one. 

I wish it was that easy for me. 

I’ve been fortunate enough that I have improved my pace time in every single race that I’ve entered. 

(Oh my gosh, I just about broke my face trying to leap off my couch to find something wooden to knock on so I don’t jinx myself. See!? SEE WHAT I MEAN?)

And the anxiety following after me on the trail every day just serves as an antagonizing reminder that PRs aren’t always going to be in my future. And how am I going to feel when that happens? Like a failure? I certainly don’t see my other runner friends as failures when they don't PR—that would be ridiculous! They're my heroes no matter what they do because they're out there doing it! Why can’t I give myself the same credit?

I have to find a way to get over this. I have to. Otherwise running, the thing I love to do more than anything else on the planet (other than eat, write and do personal things with Clayton), is going to become a joyless, painful struggle that leaves me feeling horrible about myself. 

Isn’t that ridiculous? Over the weekend I was talking to my sister-in-law about this same subject and she said something along the lines of, “If I run slower than what I wanted to, I have a total meltdown. I don’t understand why I can’t just appreciate the fact that I ran 10 miles when most people can’t just go outside and do that.”

Right? RIGHT?

We both admitted that we’ve cried during runs because our pace isn’t on par like we’d hoped. I’ve let a “bad” run bum me out for an entire day. It’s ridiculous. (I had to put that word in quotations because unless I get eaten by a bear or randomly shat myself, there really isn’t such a thing as a bad run if I get in all the miles I wanted to. See? I know that, but my brain and heart must be on two totally different wavelengths.)

So this begs the question, “Why do times even matter so much to me?” I know for a fact that no one cares about my race times other than me. Getting a better time than someone else doesn’t mean that I’m the better runner, and vice versa. So who am I competing with? My obsession with running times is just another way I’ve thrust unreasonable expectations on my own shoulders and set myself up for an unavoidable letdown.

Is it possible to be addicted to making yourself feel bad?


  1. I never used to care about times until about 2 years ago, now it's like I can't stop!

    Let's go out for a girly night and just about running. I think we need it!

  2. I think you need to reconcile what running really means to you. Yes, it's about the competition, but we don't make hundreds of running quotes based on competition (even with yourself). Running isn't about being better everytime, it's the activity, the joy, the feeling you get when you've completed something. Run the race for FUN. I did that with cycling & running a lot, just to see the site, the course, to say I've done it.

    I got to a place, like you, where I fought with every second to make sure I succeeded. But it wasn't until I realized I ran for completely different reasons that I was able to overcome that, be a better, happier runner. :)

  3. Great post!

    Everyone has their goals ... to run faster, to run farther, to just start moving. I go through weeks asking why on Earth am I doing this, but then I realize that just holds me back. If I run because it helps me and it helps others, then I've achieved a greater goal then any personal speed record. Rather then looking at what is holding us back, we need to look at all the opportunities ahead.

    Keep running and keep smiling!


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