I wrote this awesome blog about working on the mental side of my running, digging deep into my running philosophy and finding the peace I need to start running my best. And then the internet ate it. Squarespace scratched their heads, threw their hands up and said, "we can't figure out why numerous "saves" didn't do even one". I wanted to be pissed, I wanted to be frustrated, but instead, I put into practice all the things I've been trying to work on and deliberately, mindfully, let it go. Yeah, it was an awesome post, but just because it was gone didn't mean that what I wanted to say was. I have still come to the same conclusions, I have still rediscovered my own power, I have still realized what is important to me and how I want to get there.
Over the past two years, my ability to races has been restricted, as I have said over and over again. I had found a quasi-balance between bakery life and running. I still got to race marathons but that was in part because I was able to maintain a relatively high level of fitness, so focusing on the Olympic Trials qualifier seemed like a good goal to chip away at. Unfortunately, that goal stopped being about the process to get there at some point and started becoming the destination. And yet, I couldn't stop heaving my body towards it, even if my mind was not in the right place. I have tried over and over again to figure out how to fit my mind into the parameters of the goal and be motivated, be present, be less stressed but time and time again, I have failed to do so. And therefore, I have failed to achieve that goal, burned out on that goal. Over the last few months, as I have been able to train more, have other big goals and spend more time on running, my mind has faltered. I have lost confidence, lost drive, lost the love. And that is not ok with me, that is not why I run, not why I race, not what motivates me.
When I played basketball, I was focused on one goal: to get a basketball scholarship. I worked so hard, I sacrificed so much, I drove myself intensely towards that goal and I achieved it. But then something happened I didn't anticipate, I was done. I hated basketball, I didn't want to do it anymore, I was exhausted and walked away from the game. I had used all of my energy and will and everything I was to get that goal and there was nothing left on the other side. That is not what I want for my running, it is not who I am as a runner. When I started to really examine my own unhappiness, I realized it was because I was focusing my efforts on achieving my goals instead of process of achieving my goals. There is a very very big difference. I am a process person. I like picking big huge goals not because I am a competitive Type A person (I am not), but because I like having a challenge that I can work towards. I love developing the skill necessary to rise to the challenge a race presents. Yes, I am hugely self motivated, driven and hardworking but for the sake of the process itself, not the end result. When that happens, races come together and I celebrate the work I've done. I am motivated differently than the majority of elite athletes and so I need to embrace my own motivators. I am a wild horse amongst the thoroughbreds.
I got away from my guiding principles for running and I lost myself. It has been a hard few months trying to figure out the way forward. One of the things that has been important in figuring it out has been to really define and own what my guiding principles are for running. My guiding principles are 1) Love running 2) Run for my whole life 3) Stay connected to the process. Using these as my way points, I am now better able to develop my goals, pick races, be motivated and by far the most important: enjoy running again. I've started to get more excited about training, racing and the possibilities. I feel free again.
As I begin to get my head on straight, reprioritize goals or put goals aside for a time, I am absolutely filled with excitement and enthusiasm as I start planning my next year of running and adventures. I have followed my heart and enlisted the mantra "be who you want to be" in picking races. Instead of worrying about what (I perceive) others want me to do or others think I am good at (please stop telling me "this isn't your kind of race"- I love it ALL, even the races that requires facing my weaknesses which is actually even more fun!! Why would I just want to run races I am already skilled at??) or what I think I should do, I am just doing what I want to. Ultimately, it only matters to me! The biggest thing I have realized/remembered over the past few weeks is that my running is MINE, no one else's. And if I am not true to myself, I do not run or race well. Thus, as I picked my fall schedule, I was guided by things that got my heart pumping and got me excited with challenges!
Here are my upcoming races:
- July 26th- San Francisco Marathon
- August 8th- Angel's Staircase 60km
- August 23rd- Santa Rosa Marathon
- September 20th- Cape Town Marathon
- October 3rd- Ultra Trail Cape Town 100km (woot! soooooo excited for this challenge!)
- October 24th- Fall 50- USATF 50 mile road championship
- November 21- JFK 50 mile
- Ongoing fall: PAUSATF XC!
When it comes right down to it, I am an emotional, introspective runner, just like I am an emotional, introspective person. There is nothing wrong with that. I am coming to embrace it and embrace that my journey is much more of a samurai's journey than an army ranger. I am trying to walk a certain spiritual path with my running, not just reach a desired outcome. I will win, I will lose, I will struggle, I will succeed and it will be all part of my journey, but now I see that as long as I embrace it all, I will love the run and mindfully be happy.