As most of you know, this weekend I will be racing in my second half marathon (ever) of the year. I still remember the feeling of relief that came across me when I finally made it to the finish line of the Ottawa Race Weekend half – yes I said relief, not accomplishment. At that moment I had absolutely no intentions of signing up for the Army Run, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like i should sign up for a second half. I had already built up my endurance and maintaining it would be much easier (not true). After wavering on whether or not to race again, I finally decided to do it – having something to train for would force me to be accountable with my running throughout the summer.
I don’t want to sound like a negative Nancy, there are more than a handful of reasons why racing and training is great – which I’ve shared with you here, here, and here – but I am starting to realize that running for yourself and for pleasure is much more enjoyable. Running your first race (of a particular distance) is exciting, the main goal is to finish strong. I am noticing that a second race is different – I always have that nagging voice in my head telling me that I have to beat my last time. As competitive as I am, the pressure to PR is driving me insane – it has been detrimental to my training and my well being. I cannot think of a single run since the race where I have finished feeling satisfied. I am always disappointed with my time, my pace, my walk breaks, the list goes on – there is always something I could have done better.
Now that I have had some time to reflect on my training, I know I am being too hard on myself. I stuck to my schedule and ran each run to the best of my ability, despite negative thoughts. I really do love to run – and I love being a part of the running community, but after this Sunday I need to change my training up to remind myself why I started in the first place. No more forced 16km (or longer) Sunday runs. If I want to do a long run I will, if I am not feeling it – that is okay too. This isn’t an excuse to stop exercising, it is merely a reminder that I need to be a little more conscious of how my body feels. I still plan to run three days a week, two short and one long, but on a much less rigorous schedule – running is supposed to be fun, and I have every intention to return to a place where I look forward to doing it.
As for this race, of course I hope to PR, but I have to remember that completing a half marathon (no matter the time) is an accomplishment. My plan is to be positive – no more self doubt. I know I can run the distance as I have done it many times before.
I am done running with my head – this Sunday is all about running with my heart.