Striving Towards Balance
For a long time (for almost 5 years) I’ve had a singular focus on running in general and ultrarunning in particular. I became one of those runners that non-runners hate. When I was in training mode (which as an ultrarunner was year round), I slept, ate, and breathed training. My range of conversation topics were limited to my latest run, my training, my upcoming races, and my theories about training/eating/racing. I offer my deepest apologies for all my friends who had to endure me during the past 5 years!
Since injuring my hip in June, and if we’re really being honest since injuring my knee in February, I’ve started to realize that ultrarunning may not be the be all end all for me. I still love running and have lots of ultras in my sights, but it’s not my only focus. You see when I was deep in “ultrarunner mode” I missed out on so many opportunities to go skiing, biking, hiking (at a leisurely pace not a training pace), rock climbing, or any other fun and interesting activity because I was afraid it would impact my training, make me too sore to do my prescribed run, or injure me and make me unable to run at all. As someone who is emerging from the other side, it was a sad existence. And I honestly didn’t gain very much from it.
The past two years, and really the past three, have been one disappointing finish after a disappointing DNF (did not finish) after a disappointing DNS (did not start). For all of the effort I put in, I really wasn’t reaping any rewards. Unless you consider my string of injuries and the ever present fear of slipping back into adrenal fatigue that I never really recovered from because I was too obsessed with running. I still mostly enjoyed my training, but the races took me deep into the dark recesses of my mind. It’s a place everyone should once and a while to really examine their life and whether they like the way they’re living it, but it shouldn’t happen at every. single. race.
One benefit of going deep into my own mind was the final realization that something needed to change. I love training, but right now the racing isn’t for me. I became too competitive with myself (because I really have no business competing against other ultrarunners) and lost the joy of running. I spent months of my life preparing for a race only to show up on race day with an overinflated idea of how the race would go (spoiler: it never went as well as I hoped and, on the off chance that it did, I got too much into my head to follow through with it).
Well I’m finally learning from all those painful revelations I made during races and I’m taking a break (from ultras of the running variety at least). I’m still going out and working on my fitness – which is pretty nonexistent at this point. I’m starting to do core exercises again and I’m even going in for another round of blood tests from Blueprint for Athletes to see what my “new baseline” is. But I’m doing these because I love being outside in the mountains and I want to be able to experience them to the fullest. I’m “training” for life not for a particular race or sport. I’m working to get into the best shape I can so that I can go on full day hikes on my honeymoon and still be able to enjoy a nice dinner with some wine under the stars afterwards. A lot of credit is given to those truly dedicated to one sport, but I think my new approach is what’s best for me.
If you see me now, don’t worry me directing the conversation to the latest skyrunning results or the coolest new trend in running shoes. As I tried to convey in my previous post (here if you missed it), I’m striving for balance. And as I’m starting to learn: