The slap of my feet against pavement, the strains of my favorite songs in my ear buds, the stress of my day…all those are powerful motivators to keep me running. Yet there’s nothing like an upcoming race to tighten my shoelaces and remind me to stay on track and away from the second scoop of ice cream.
A tighter budget meant less money in the race coffers this year, so the only half marathon I’m running isn’t until October. I had meticulous plans for the year between my last half marathon and this one; I wanted to start the race faster, lighter, and more ready than I have been in the past. I read speed work plans and started tracking calories and then gloriously derailed on the twisty, turny track of life.
I had twelve months. That’s a lifetime of training time.
I had nine months; that’s almost forty weeks of training time.
I had six months — still lots of time.
I had four months.
I have thirteen weeks, and I am not faster nor (much) lighter than I was last October.
So I was fretting and digging through training plans and trying to gauge my physical fitness level. Am I a beginner (again)? Intermediate? Should I run hills for strength? Sprints for speed? I worriedly asked some friends for the intricacies of their training plans, and crickets chirped in the awkward silence of a slow, recreational runner asking for Olympic-caliber tips.
In all my research and overbearing self-analysis, I had forgotten about listening to my body. I was so busy keeping track of seconds and minutes and tenths of miles and foot turnover and was-I-striking-mid-foot that I left my joy of running somewhere out of breath and lonely on the side of the road.
So I took a deep breath and wandered to Target where I bought a new purple and pink running tank top. I tweaked a few songs on my running playlist. And I did the hardest thing for my micro-managing self to do — I let go of my training plan for my upcoming race.
By let go, I mean set aside, not tossed in the trash. If I want to finish 13.1 miles, I need to stay uninjured, so I still plan on following the mileage recommendations for each week. But instead of worrying about pace or elevation, I plan on turning up my music, figuring out my route, and letting my body decide how fast or slow each run is going to be.
Running has been my constant stress-relieving activity for years, but it used to be more than that. I’m ready to bring back the kind of running that fills me with joy. So I don’t know how my race will go in October, but I plan on training in a way that makes me smile as I lace up my shoes for the next thirteen weeks.
So let me know if you have a workout song that always makes your feet move a little faster; I’m ready to have some fun with my runs again.