I was confident I knew who I was as a runner, but the last few years have shown me otherwise.
Like me, have you ever:
- Been out of step with your running buddies?
- Felt inadequate after reading social media?
- Had conflicted focus?
- Wanted to give up running?
If yes, read on!
Having agonised over aspects of my life, as well running, there are five areas that have assisted me in getting to know my running self better.
Clarify your focus
The last 10 years saw me take on numerous activities, both in sport and art.
Being an all or nothing type of girl I gave everything 100%, leaving me exhausted and frustrated. Although I enjoyed all the activities, I spread myself too thin and was trying to achieve the impossible.
Simplification was the answer. For now, the four things I need are:
- Love (Mr S.)
- Physical activity (Running, sorry Mr S!)
- Creativity (Photography and blogging)
- An income to live on (Work)
With focus, life is easier and making decisions on my running more obvious.
To run long or short distances?
I have tackled ultras through to a 3K on the track, too many events to count. All fabulous in their own right that gave me a sense of achievement.
One problem. I wanted to excel at both long and short distances. The outcome was my results were left wanting every time. I had endurance, but could not endure enough. I was quick, but not quick enough.
The decision was easy. I found joy in speed so would focus on completing 10K and 5K in the fastest time possible.
Take to the road or trail?
Without hesitation I prefer mud and hills. Trail running offers variety whilst demanding strength as well as speed. Cross country all the way for me.
I will not turn my back on the road completely though. I want to run faster and am told quality speed training and racing on the roads can only help.
To run solo or with a club?
To run alone and clear my mind is essential for me, but I began to feel isolated.
I was missing running with a supportive group. The camaraderie, having someone to push me, as well as the sage advice of a coach.
Acknowledging this, I found a training group that met my needs rather than me trying to fit (unsuccessfully) into the first one I could find. I tried this before and it did not work well.
Please yourself or please others?
Look at social media, and the pressure appears to be collecting ‘race bling’ at every opportunity. I began to believe commitment to running was demonstrated by the number of events participated in.
I could not relate to this.
I prefer to target one event and perform at my best on that day. Once done I need to rest, mentally and physically, before preparing for the next race.
By understanding my needs, I no longer find myself on a start line thinking ‘what on earth I am doing here!‘ I am choosing to please myself and not others.
Having a clear focus was the lynchpin in getting to know my running self. With that firmly in place I can confidently say now I:
- Focus on 10K and 5K races.
- Prefer trails, but will run on road.
- Take recuperative solo runs, but thrive in a supportive training group
- Do not collect race bling, instead focus on a limited number of races.
- Have stopped pleasing others.
- Accept this is likely to evolve in the future!
How well do you know your running self, and what has helped you to get to know them?
Until next time, keep running with your heart.