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The Long Run: Guest Post: Picky Running

I am pleased as punch today to present a guest post from our favorite #boatlife (boatlyfe?) runner girl Sarah over at PickyRunner. Sarah and I have a great deal in common, and in fact first bonded over our ability and insistence on hosing large amounts of ice cream and carrots on a regular basis. I have been reading her blog since it was just a wee little thing, and my how it has grown. AND HOW ON EARTH IS THIS HER FIRST GUEST POST?? I hope, actually, I know, that you will love her as much as I do. 

The Long Run: Picky Running

I don’t know whether I’m more excited or nervous about my first guest blog appearance. I know I’m nowhere near as awesome or hilarious as what you normally see on suzlyfe but she’s tanning on the beaches of Mexico and I think we can all agree that she deserves a break, no? I am the one who pressured her into starting this little piece of the internet in the first place after stalking her on twitter for months so it’s the least I could do. {editor’s note: true story. She’s also peer pressuring me to run a race with her. Evil, evil woman}

I was trying to come up with a topic for today’s post and I found myself staring at a blank screen. Any blogger out there knows this is a recipe for disaster. If the words don’t come, you can’t force it or everyone else will know and judge you from behind the screen. Terrifying. Rule #1 of blogging: write from the heart.

sarah1

For those of you who read my blog, you know I like to talk a lot about running, living on a boat, dessert, and my battle with an eating disorder. I don’t work in a restaurant so I won’t pretend to know anything about food, unless you count ice cream, which I eat copious amounts of. Once I ruled out any food posts or eating disorder recovery posts (which didn’t seem hugely relevant), I was back to square zero.

Running was seemingly my only option to ramble on about, which was a problem considering running hasn’t been going so well for me lately. I’m in a running rut. I love to run but there are times when I just don’t like it. It’s not that I have a problem getting out the door. I’m actually a pretty self-motivated person and if I tell myself I’m going to run, there better be an earthquake stopping me. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ve run through an earthquake. And a hurricane. And a blizzard, for that matter. Getting out the door is never an issue. It’s the mentality behind it.

sarah2

When I first started running, I did it because I loved it. I even gave up swimming, my entire livelihood, to become a more competitive collegiate runner. That backfired. I’m not someone who does well with a lot of pressure (hence why I found myself staring at an empty word document for days before I managed to type a single sentence). As soon as I started caring too much, I stopped looking forward to lacing up my sneakers every day. It became all about logging miles.

My races suffered. Suddenly, my times went from being very respectable for any collegiate runner, let alone a newbie, to dismal. Two years into my running career, I was running two minutes slower in a 5k than I had in my first race. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. So I did the only thing I could think of: I pushed harder. I began running more miles, doing more yoga, more stretching, more core work, more strength training. More more more. My times continued to get slower. And then I got injured.

sarah3

It wasn’t until I took a step back and reevaluated why I was running that I began to improve again. I took the entire summer off running due to a string of injuries and realized I didn’t miss it at all. That was all the proof I needed to know I had burnt myself out. I didn’t start running to be competitive. I started running because I loved how freely my thoughts flowed and how relaxed I felt after. Somewhere in my running journey, I lost the passion.

sarah4

When I finally returned to running, my focus wasn’t on times or mileage anymore, it was on enjoying every minute of every run. Not every run feels good but I appreciate every mile a lot more now than I did. I started really racing again about a month ago and I had an entirely different experience. My times are finally getting faster again instead of slower, the pictures the photographers take make me look happy instead of miserable (not that they are usually very attractive, but that’s life), and I am no longer disappointed with my races, no matter how they turn out because I’m running them for fun.

sarah5

Nobody is forcing me to stand on that starting line and put me on the pain train for however long the race is. I’m there because I want to be there. And that’s what I remind myself of every time I start to mentally lose focus during a race.

This post ended up entirely different from what I had originally planned, but it’s where my head went, so I’m going with it. I hate giving advice because I know there are bloggers out there that are far more qualified than me, and in all honesty, it’s not my style. But I will say this: running is a hell of a lot better when you let yourself enjoy it. Focusing on miles, pace, times, winning, or anything other than the act of running can make you lose sight of why you stepped out the door in the first place. I’m going to finish this 1000 word ramble by sharing with you the best piece of advice I have, based only on my own experience: Just Run.

sarah6

Couldn’t have said it better myself. 

When have you given up something in the short term only to rediscover a greater love for it in the long run?
Did you make a conscious decision to do so? Was it forced upon you? Or did you one day find that you no longer “needed” it like you used to, put it aside, and one day wake up again feeling the need to pick it up again?

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