Looking for My Joy

Somehow after running the Boston Marathon last year, my blog–and my running life–seemed to run out of steam. It wasn’t so much that I lost interest in things, it was more like letting the air out of the balloon, very, very slowly. Last summer was much hotter than normal, and I ran a lot less because of it. I got slower, and I lost my running spark. Many of my friends were training for the NYC Marathon and I felt cut adrift–and a little sad that I wasn’t going with them. I bailed on running my planned marathon in November and focused instead on training for the Death Valley Marathon this past February (which will be an upcoming blog in the very near future). I struggled to keep up with my training partner on our midweek sort-of-long runs and couldn’t figure out what had happened to my joy of running.  Unlike the Lucinda Williams song that laments  “you took my joy, I want it back,” I couldn’t just “go to West Memphis and look for my joy.”  Mostly I wondered, what is going on with me?

I suppose everyone goes through cycles of good running and bad running, but this was larger than that.  I wasn’t depressed, everything just seemed off.  It all seemed to go back to Boston.  I was extremely disappointed in getting sick days before the marathon, but in the end it wasn’t a big deal.  Qualifying for Boston was a bigger deal to me; running the race was the icing on the cupcake.  I remember feeling the same way when I graduated from college.  I had busted my butt for four years, taking it all so seriously and checking my GPA over and over, only to find myself in cap and gown wondering, that’s it? I wished I had allowed myself to have more fun in college.  In hindsight, I think I did the same thing to myself with running.  I had pushed myself mile after mile, always trying to get faster and stronger, but I had forgotten to have fun.

So here I am, still looking for my joy.  Though I still seem to be struggling with my running, I have made some changes.  It’s Spring Break and I haven’t run once the entire week.  Some of that is because of my allergies, but most of it is because I just haven’t felt like it. And you know what, I’m not beating myself up for feeling that way.  The pre-Boston me would’ve been mortified to take off from running for a week, but the post-Boston me is okay with being an occasional schlub.  I have also decided not to run another marathon for awhile.  Six is good for now.  As a matter of fact, I’m not planning on racing at all.  Most, if not all, of my runs will be for fun and at a comfortable pace.  My Garmin died about three weeks ago and I have enjoyed running without thinking about my pace every few minutes. I have also bought a pair of Merrell Pace Gloves, which are similar to Vibrams without the five fingers, and enjoy running in almost nothing on my feet.  I’ve even run a mile or so barefoot, and loved feeling like a kid again.

Will it all work?  Will I be able to return to the days when I couldn’t wait to get home so I could tie up my shoes and hit the pavement?   Will I find my joy again?  Only time will tell, but chances are good I will, as long as I don’t forget to have fun.

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