September 13, 2015 that was the day that I quit.
The Naper Trails Half Marathon took place on a beautiful day with the sun bright in the sky and my children and mom at the finish line yet none of that mattered. I still quit and I don’t regret that decision one bit.
It was a joke at first. “I’m retiring from running, it was fun while it lasted, but I’m done.” (Words spoken by many a runner after a difficult race.) Usually they are empty words that mean nothing as the individual laces up their shoes and heads out the door within the week for yet another run.
Not this time, not for me.
No one believed me; they encouraged me to join them for a shorter race later in the month.
Nope, I was standing firm.
I was done.
That Naper Trails race had humbled me beyond comprehension.
It hadn’t been my best training, but it certainly hadn’t been my worst.
It wasn’t my slowest time, but that day I fell out of love with running.
I believe distance running is about 25% physical training and 75% mental training, and that day no amount of physical training could overcome the mental defeat I experienced.
Five months prior to Naper Trails I ran my first half marathon post-pregnancy (Amelia was 9 months old). It was a drizzly, bone-chilling rain, 2 weeks out from a running fall that resulted in broken/bruised ribs. We’ll never know if they were bruised or broken because I refused to go to the doctor even at my husband’s incessant urging—if you ask him I nearly died. I ran that race 9 minutes faster than Naper Trails. Wow, if that’s not humbling I don’t know what is. Just goes to show you it is more mental than physical.
I quit running for months.
I focused solely on other forms of exercise.
I enjoyed the freeing feeling that I didn’t “have” to run.
I didn’t “have” to run X number of miles for my training. In years past I would suit up and run in all temperatures in the winter. It might mean baklava, treads for my shoes, etc., but I would still do it.
This past winter I snuggled in deeper on those cold mornings and wished my friends well in their running adventures.
I didn’t even miss it when I saw the pictures posted on Facebook.
I did miss the comradery of getting together for a run, and I quickly became the “bad influence friend.” I suggested we get together for breakfast, forget about the idea to burn the calories first and then grab breakfast.
Slowly, ever so slowly I began, on my own, to do speed work on the treadmill in the basement, but only because speed work is a good fat-burning workout, not because I intended to improve my running or really even return to running.
Thank goodness for good friends who never give up on you and never believe the lies you tell yourself.
They kept inviting me to go running and eventually I did.
We didn’t run fast, we didn’t run far, but we ran.
I guess it’s safe to say I’m no longer retired from running. I don’t run by a schedule now. I don’t care about my time, my splits or my distance.
I run because I feel good when I run.
I feel happy when I run,
and even on the days when I don’t feel happy when I run I feel happy when I’m done with my run—not because it’s over, but because I feel strong.
I have found my enjoyment for running again.
It was a short running retirement, but a very important one. I needed that break and I needed to come back just as much.
I also need to run that distance again. I still have a bad taste in my mouth for the Naper Trails Half Marathon, and running that distance scares me all over again as if I’ve never done it before. I will not let that Naper Trails race define who I am as a runner and a person.
I do not quit and I am strong.
I signed up for my next half marathon for September, and since I’m
cheap frugal you can bet I’ll be there on the starting line to run that race. I paid good money for that!
I have a lot of training ahead of me and it’s not the physical training I’m most nervous about.
I know I can do that.
I’ve done that, but how will I train my mind to not give up?
How will I get through those dreaded middle miles (9-11)?
What will I do if I start thinking negatively during the race?
What if I feel like I can’t go on?
I will figure that out during training. I will get physically and mentally tough because September will be my chance to remind myself “you got this.”