Finding the Balance

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How a runner tries on clothes…or is it just me?

 

Today I’m taking the day off from running. I have gone 56 days without taking a day off, and to be honest, it doesn’t really feel good, it feels weird. I decided I needed a day of rest for two reasons. One, I’m running the New Bedford Half Marathon tomorrow morning and I want to be well rested and run fast, (my goal is under 1:19,) but if I run a PR, (1:19:55 is my current PR from New Bedford 2014,) I will be happy. Although a day off is a great way to rest, I definitely could have done what I was planning and run 5-7 miles super easy today instead of taking it completely off and that would have been a great way to get ready for a big race in the AM. However, the second reason I took a day off today is far more important for my mental wellbeing and my performance in the Boston Marathon which is exactly one month away from yesterday! This second reason is… I NEED TO GET OUT OF THE OBSESSIVE ZONE I’VE BEEN APPROACHING.

I have a weird personality in one way, which is probably not that weird at all and I’m sure many runners have a similar problem to what I have. I like to think of myself as being carefree and easy going. I think a lot of people that don’t know me super well, probably think I am those things. The truth is, I can be free spirited, and when I am, it’s me at my absolute best. I sleep better, I think clearer, I love more, and overall, I’m just plain happier. It’s also something I have to work at because like a lot of distance runners and go getters, I’m hard on myself and when I put my mind to something, I can get a little obsessive about it. Being focused and determined is in no way bad, and I know if I want to be successful at whatever it is I’m setting out to do, I need to have focus and I need to have determination. What I’ve found however, is when I lose the carefree, easygoing mindset that I strive for, my performance will never meet it’s full potential.

A good example of this balance, (or lack there of,) is my running career in college. My training really started to come together my junior year coming into XC season I was in amazing shape and knew I could hang with any of the girls in my conference. When the season started though, I started to psyche myself out and was getting so anxious about performing to the level I knew I could, that I was having trouble sleeping and getting very stressed about my schoolwork and training. This went on pretty much all of junior year. My running and schoolwork didn’t suffer horribly, but they definitely were not where I knew they could be. I returned back to school for senior year, still in the same mindset, and my XC races were just ok even though my workouts were going phenomenally. And then, something amazing happened. I think part of the credit, (maybe a lot more than part!) has to go to my now fiancé, because we had just gotten together in the Fall of our senior year. We were both engineers, both just got out of longish relationships, and were both in the position to just want to have fun our final year of college. I definitely didn’t go crazy by all means, (I mean I was still ME!) but I found myself downtown at the bars with my new fun boyfriend most evenings throughout the week. I was sleeping like a baby,and I was waking up in the morning and nailing my workouts. This continued through the entire year and I ran the fastest I had ever run in every event and was as stress free as can be.

I’m not 21 anymore, so I think if I was out at the bars everynight my family would be having an intervention for me, but at the same time, the concept of when I don’t worry I do better, still runs (no pun intended…) true. My half marathon PR is from New Bedford two years ago. I had been in Miami the day before for a work event, drank about 3-4 beers at the airport/on the plane with my coworkers, and didn’t get home until about 1:30AM after traveling all night. I showed up on the line the next morning with zero expectations because I knew I was in no way a great position to run super fast. Then to my surprise, I smashed my PR by about 90 seconds. My marathon PR is from the hilliest course ever, (Mount Desert Island in Acadia, ME,) where my only goal was to just run 26.2 miles without getting sick. I felt amazing the whole time and finished as the second woman in 2:58:15. Now I can go to the other side of things, and talk about Boston Marathon 2014. I was in great shape, put all the miles and workouts in to run well, but I COMPLETELY psyched myself out and put far too much pressure on a race. My stomach was  in knots the entire morning, and it didn’t go away once the race started. I couldn’t keep any nutrition  down and was incredibly sick from mile 5 to 18 where I finally made the decision to stop.

My training for the Boston Marathon has been going amazingly well so far. I’ve hit my mileage goals every week and my workouts and long runs are exactly where they should be. My mind is not though. I am slowly getting out of that carefree easy spirited zone that my body likes so much and today I’m working on getting back there. At 27, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and the number one thing I need to do to be successful and happy  is master the balance of effort and ease.

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