Stuck in a rut? Lately I've been losing that loving feeling for races and running in general. Sometimes it just sucks the life out of me. I've had a few rough patches with some of my longer distance runs and it's been tough to stay motivated. It isn't always easy being a runner. We have bad days. There are times when we have to push past the tears and just get the job done because at the end of the day we know that we have to. It isn't just a hobby or passing interest, it's a part of us. Even though it causes us pain, costs us a ridiculous amount of money sometimes and training schedules often make it difficult to spend time with our loved ones, we still keep doing it. It can be frustrating when you dedicate so much of yourself and are still met with defeat when you can't reach that elusive PR. Running sucks. Sometimes everything from the burning in your legs to the blisters on your feet scream out for you to just give up. And yet, we persevere. We conquer. We refuse to admit defeat. We push harder, stronger, faster, longer. Whatever it takes to get out of the funk. That's all a part of it. You hate it and love it. It drives you crazy but also brings you peace. At its best and at its worse it can bring you to tears. Yeah, I've thought about quitting, but I'm too stubborn to do that.
So how do I push past all the crap and get back to my happy place? I take a break and I give back. Running has given me so much without asking for a single thing in return. Sure, sometimes it may take some blood, sweat and tears but I don't mind a little sacrifice here and there. I've made so many friends and learned so much about myself and others from my running community that I feel the need to give something back to it. Whenever I need a boost I volunteer. You'd be amazed at just how inspiring handing out cups of water or body marking triathletes can be.
This past weekend I volunteered at Chicago's inaugural ITU Triathlon and it was exactly what I needed. Lately I've been unfocused in my training and truly dreading this olympic triathlon I have coming up next month. I've been feeling defeated and afraid that I won't make it through. Maybe it was too soon to try out the longer distance. Silly I know, but these are the things that run through my mind when I have a less than favorable swim, bike or run.
I volunteered at the swim start to help with the staging area for swimmers and also do some body marking. As each group of triathletes passed through a few would stop and chat with me for a bit to quell there nerves before jumping in the water. One of these was a man from Canada who just finished a half ironman recently. I applauded him and congratulated his behemoth of an accomplishment. I'm always in awe of what people are able to do. We exchanged race stories and he couldn't believe that in the short time I've been running I've already completed 6 half marathons. It didn't seem like that big of a deal to me but I realized it kind of is. I went from not being able to run a mile to finishing 6 half marathons in about a year and half. He thought THAT was more impressive than his half ironman. Funny how that works. I'm sure he didn't realize it, but what he gave me was a pep talk. He was that little voice that whispered, you can do this. I've been missing that and here this stranger found it for me. I wish there was a way to thank him, hopefully my positive energy and good vibes I'm sending towards him make their way to Canada :)