The Half Marathon that Wasn’t

So, spoiler alert if you didn’t pick it up from the title of this post, but I didn’t run the half marathon this past Saturday. And you know what? I’m actually feeling pretty good about my decision not to.

I first started running almost four years ago. I wrote a post about How I Started Running, and it remains one of my favorites to this day. I know it sounds super cliché, but I honestly never in a million years would have imagined myself being able to run, much less enjoying it. When I first started, I was impressed with myself with each extra minute I could keep going. The constant sense of accomplishment I felt with each new obstacle was fulfilling in a way I hadn’t experienced before. Running became a huge passion and an outlet, and it made me really happy.

I vividly remember running my first 5k, moving onto my first 10k, and then my first double digit race – The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. After that, I tackled my first half marathon, and the feeling of crossing that finish line was beyond anything I’d ever felt before. Once I had one under my belt, I wanted to do them stronger and faster, and ended up running 4 more, and knocking 11 minutes and 10 seconds off the time of my first over those two years. During that time, I also decided it would be a good idea to try to train for a full marathon, but after working up to running 16 miles, I decided it wasn’t a good time for me and to drop out of the marathon.

Lately, I’ve been feeling in a very similar place to when I quit training for the marathon and my heart just hasn’t been in it. This past weekend would have been my sixth, and there were many times during the training cycle that I tried really hard to psych myself up. Sometimes when you’re in a rut you just have to give yourself a good pep talk and you can snap out of it. But not this time.

I stayed up with being active, but the long runs were something I was literally DREADING. I know long runs are often a runners least favorite part of training, but I was in a place where thinking about having to do the run would cause me so much anxiety and dread that it just put a dark cloud over my days. So I often skipped them, which caused more negative feelings associated with running and the guilt that often followed.

As this race was approaching, I had a really uneasy feeling about the whole thing. I did a lot of thinking and then realized I just didn’t WANT to run a half right now. And then I had to ask myself, well why am I running it then? I had been trying to make myself do something that I wasn’t dedicated to, and it was causing me to resent running in general.

Sometimes it’s really easy to get caught up in something you think you should do, and I think that running so many races has caused me to constantly be looking for the next big thing. Not that that is bad at all, but I feel like this constant searching has caused me to feel like running races is more of an obligation than a choice. It’s like I can’t be happy to just keep doing what I’m doing, and have to always been looking for, and working towards, something bigger.

I do love the feeling of crossing the finish line, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing such a big task that I’ve dedicated myself to. But what I don’t love is not being able to identify WHY I’m doing it and feeling like I’m being forced into it. Because if I don’t want to, and it’s making me dread a sport that I’d grown to love (in smaller doses), then really, what’s the reason?

I do strongly believe that being active is a nonnegotiable part of healthy living for me, but I don’t believe running half marathons all the time has to be. There are many, many other ways to stay and be active and to continue to dedicate myself to a healthy life. I’m not saying I won’t be running races anymore – in fact, I have the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler coming up on April 7, which will be my fourth time in a row running it. But what I am saying is that I think I’m going to take a break from distance running after that for a bit, until I find myself back in a place where I am doing it because I want to, and not because I feel like I have to.



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10 Comments on The Half Marathon that Wasn’t

  1. Jenny
    March 19, 2013 at 10:43 am (1 year ago)

    It is ALWAYS a good idea to listen to your body! I’m running a half in late April for charity, but after that I plan on taking some time off from long-distance running as well. I think you just need a break from time to time.

    Reply
  2. Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
    March 19, 2013 at 10:59 am (1 year ago)

    I recently had to do the same thing with distances. It feels so nice to just go out for a run a few times a week. It just feels totally different and more relaxing and that’s what I need right now too :)

    Reply
  3. Roz@weightingfor50
    March 19, 2013 at 1:14 pm (1 year ago)

    Hats off to you for listening to your body and your instinct and do what is best for you right now. Have a good Tuesday Beth.

    Reply
  4. Katie @ thecarbmonster
    March 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm (1 year ago)

    I think this is a great decision for you! You’ve been focusing on work so much and keeping up on your regular workouts/activity still so I don’t see where this is a negative. Right now you need to focus more on work vs other times where you want to focus more on pushing yourself on workouts.

    Reply
  5. Amanda @RunToTheFinish
    March 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm (1 year ago)

    so glad you shared this!! I think we get in to the mindset that to be active we must have a reason like a race, but if you simply enjoy a 3 mile run then heck don’t force yourself to run. way to be smart and keep enjoying what you are doing!

    Reply
  6. Talitha Vazquez
    March 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm (1 year ago)

    Runners who push through pain feel great pride, but usually, typically, injure themselves. Feeling great should NOT involve punishing your body. Do what brings you joy and centers you. The rest is forgettable details.

    Reply
  7. Deb
    March 20, 2013 at 3:41 am (1 year ago)

    Good call listening to yourself- if you’re dreading doing something, no matter what it is, you should stop to think about why you’re doing it.

    Reply
  8. Annie @ eatcleaneatreal
    March 20, 2013 at 8:31 am (1 year ago)

    I hear ya…I recently decided to take a break from long distance running. Ive been doing more strength stuff (woohooo CrossFit) and shorter runs or other cardio such as spinning, and I AM LOVING IT. In my opinion exercise should be enjoyable. If you aren’t having fun you need to change something!

    Reply
  9. Robyn
    March 20, 2013 at 10:47 am (1 year ago)

    Sometimes you really have to listen to your heart and your body and make a decision that’s best for you. I’m new to running and just starting to think about my first 5K and your running success is very inspiring.

    Reply

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