Breathe Again: May in Review

Linking up with Gretchen and Kristen today for to recap the month of May for “What’s New With You?”

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May. Where to begin? In keeping with the season, I liken this month to the moments after a heavy thunderstorm – the birds slowly resuming their chirps, the sun guardedly peeking out through the clouds again, the scent of rain in the fresh air.

On the first day of the month I ran a marathon, making the start of May simultaneous with the end of a long, somewhat gritty, but mostly just long, journey.

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Ringing that PR bell after marathon #3. You get more street cred for a PR if it’s on a really hard course. It’s true, I looked it up.

And then I spent the next 30 days in recovery mode. The crippling quad soreness and lingering exhaustion that typically mark the days after 26.2 were surprisingly mild and short-lived, and after a week off, I gently eased back into running with a steady diet of short and even-paced runs, never exceeding 60 minutes.

But physical recovery wasn’t even the half of it.

I struggle to put into words what the last 30 days have meant to me, and the changes that have occurred in my heart and my head. When I crossed that finish line in Pittsburgh, it was like I could breathe again. When the clock struck May 1, suddenly 26.2 miles of running was the only thing standing in between me and a life I missed dearly. I had my head so buried in marathon training for so many months that I let a TON of living pass me by. It feels like getting out of a really bad relationship only to realize that somewhere along the way, you had become so invested in that other person that you totally forgot who you were.

It’s been a while since there was something I wanted so badly to put behind me. I really don’t know why – it was a good and successful training cycle and I enjoyed a lot of it. I guess after 3 years of robotic training and mindlessly pushing to get “faster”, I just desperately needed out. I guess some subconscious part of me finally drew a hard line in the sand and said, it’s enough already.

In the 4 weeks since the marathon has passed, I can’t recall a single second of post-race blues. I worried that I would feel unfulfilled and empty without training in my life, but my zest for life and sense of contentment have never been stronger.

So what have I been up to this month?

I completed my first ever blog series, “MinimalisMay”. The 8 posts I wrote this month, on topics ranging from cleaning out my wardrobe to contemplating my social media usage to making the bed in the morning, documented my first baby steps on my journey to live a more minimalist lifestyle. It has been really fun and fulfilling so far, both to do and to write about, and I can’t wait to dive into it more.

img_0865I started practicing yoga. I’ve gone to more yoga in the past 10 days than I have in the past 3 years, and, despite being inflexible and undoubtedly awkward-looking, I am enjoying it so far and looking forward to deepening my practice. I plan to keep going 1-2 times a week.

I got my bike out finally and we also went on our first little hike. Although I’ve only done each of the “ikings” once so far, I can already tell I’ve been bitten by the bug (so to speak). I hope riding will become as big a staple in my weekly fitness routine as yoga is becoming, and that day hikes will become a fixture of our summer.

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We joined a community garden. Updates (and, hopefully, plants) to come.

img_0935I started a tidy marathon, my first big step toward my dream of a clutter-free life.

I’ve been enjoying an increase in energy and focus at my job and in my extra-curricular activities. I wouldn’t say that I got this HUGE BURST of energy or anything, but there is a very noticeable (albeit subtle) difference in the way I feel at work most days, and at home. It’s like the air is a little fresher and my mind is a little clearer and I just feel ever-so-slightly more present.

img_0787And, yes, I have been running. I am up to running about 3 days a week now – scheduling and other fitness endeavors prevented me from reaching my goal of 4 times a week by month’s end, but that’s okay. I have switched to running by time only and not tracking my distance or pace. I only run a little bit at a time (30-50 minutes on weekdays and up to 60 for “long runs”), and I am undergoing a “running renaissance” (thanks for the term, Pippa!) of sorts. I enjoy running a lot more now. Because I run when I want to, and my runs are short and sweet and I don’t worry about pace, it doesn’t feel like a chore anymore. I now look forward to running much more, and feel great doing it. So far, I have done a couple tracked runs (one easy and one moderate/tempo, with no peeking until the end) just to see where I’m at. Both of them actually exceeded my expectations and, most importantly, I couldn’t help noticing that I’d improved at pacing myself too. Even after only a few weeks of practice, I am better at tuning into my body’s signals and finding a natural rhythm. So, by ditching pace these last few weeks, I actually got better at pacing. Who knew?

But…I feel differently about so many things now. There are parts of the running world that used to be front and center for me and now I struggle to relate to; things I used to value that I now just can’t understand. Why are we all so obsessed with being “fast”? Why do we care so much about our finish times? Why are we so willing to turn our lives inside out just to shave a few minutes off our PRs?

This stuff used to matter to me. More than I care to admit. But I clung to it, because running had given my life so much direction and I was scared that without having a goal to train for, I’d feel aimless and invisible again. But now all of it feels so…hollow. I missed my old life. Somehow I’d forgotten how much happiness I could find in other things – like writing, and nature, and being creative (or at least trying!), and occasionally just sitting around doing nothing at all. Yes, you read that right – DOING NOTHING. Oh, the scandal!

I think this is a roundabout way of saying that for the time being, I am just so so so so over long distance running, you guys. I am so done running gobs and gobs of miles every week. I can’t even bear to think about running 13.1 or 26.2, let alone do it. Just no. So much no. I start 10K training in just under 2 months now, and while I am actually really excited for it, that’s seriously about all I can handle for right now.

So, May was a good, happy month for me. It wasn’t perfect and I had my share of bad days and mood swings just like every other person on the planet. But I feel like I have my life back again. I’ve really, really enjoyed having more free time and energy and not training, and I’m not going to be parting with this lifestyle any time soon. I’m really looking forward to continuing on this way through the summer and then easing back into a training schedule in August that is new, fun and fresh.

Here’s to June and the unofficial beginning of summer!

 

 

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19 thoughts on “Breathe Again: May in Review

  1. So much going on in your life! Crazy how much we have time for when we don’t have a part-time job of training getting in the way. As much as I love running and racing, it sure is a time suck. I’m also hoping to get back into biking soon (need to pump up my tires!) and hike more this summer. Thanks for linking up with us 🙂

  2. i have never done a marathon, but i have done a few half marathons, and a few years ago i worked really hard and blah blah long story, i had a bad race- i let it get me down for weeks. i wouldn’t run, i wouldn’t do anything. i was so upset and mad at myself that i stopped living my life. i finally realised what an idiot i was being, and i had to run a half marathon a few weeks after so i had to get over it. i went into that half marathon thinking ‘whatever, i’ll just do what i can’ and it ended up being pretty great, though i haven’t come close to beating it since. but i haven’t felt that drive to, you know? i enjoy running, and i don’t ever want it to feel like a chore. when it does, i stop doing it. i don’t want to be the fastest, or even that much faster than i am. i don’t think i am lazy, i just don’t want it to take over my life like i know it has before. sorry for rambling but i totally get it (well, i half get it haha). life is too short to not enjoy living it. yay for yoga and biking and minimalist living. yay for having your life back again 🙂

    1. Don’t apologize, I ramble too, so I appreciate it! It’s refreshing to hear someone else who gets it, and also to hear from one of the few people who really has no burning desire to get faster. It seems like all the runners I know are totally consumed by improving their race times (myself included). Seeing improvement is nice, but I think it can really cause us to lose sight of what matters and why we do this. We’re not elites here – if we run every day but never improve our paces, that is OKAY!

  3. About shorter distance races… I think there’s a trend among running bloggers to see the marathon and half-marathon distances as somehow “better” than shorter distances. In reality, I think a lot of runners are missing out on distances that they may both enjoy more and be better at.

    After my Ironman (which I really do want to do, as an experience), I think I’m going to dial back my focus and do some shorter races, whether those be shorter triathlons or a series of 5ks/10ks. I mean, when I ran in high school, I was a mid-distance runner (who sometimes played at being a sprinter). I didn’t even run the 1600 or 3200 in high school because those weren’t my strong suits. I’d be deluding myself to think that the marathon or half-marathon distance is where I’d shine most while road racing.

    All that to say, I think it’s a great idea for you to focus on the 10k for a bit. Switching up focus is awesome, and you may discover a distance you love! And if/when you want to try the longer distances again, you’ll have done some serious work on your speed that will help you out in the longer distances as well.

    1. I totally agree about the trend. It’s weird how many people even admit that they are better at shorter distances but still always train for the longer ones. I actually think the trend isn’t just among run bloggers, but among runners in general. How many times have we heard “ONLY a 5k/10k”, or had a friend or relative say something like “you run marathons, shouldn’t a 10K be easy street for you?” Like everything else in life our natural tendency is to think bigger/more = better.

      I do sometimes wonder what if during this training cycle I fall in love with the 10K, find my true calling, and never run a marathon again. Who knows what could happen? I also sort of flatter myself to imagine that maybe I’ll start a trend and more bloggers/runners will be willing to try a shorter distance instead of just always going for the longer ones. Dare to dream, right? 😉

  4. I can just tell from reading this post how happy you are with life right now, including your running! Running is great, but so are hiking, biking, gardening, and writing – and just relaxing and being. It’s all about finding the balance in those things that’s right for you, and I’m so proud and inspired by the progress you made on those.

    1. Awww thank you Laura! You are definitely an inspiration for balance and positive attitude yourself!

  5. I love the 10K distance! It’s long enough to get warmed up, but short enough that I can convince myself to keep pushing because I don’t have very far to go. I’m usually amazed at strong 5K runners because I just don’t have the short-distance gene in me. Overall, you know my thoughts on speed. I guess racing is one thing, but I don’t understand why people get so bent out of shape if their friends run faster easy runs than them etc etc. I personally love pushing myself really hard, but I also am really conscious to not get super wrapped up into training. Well, now I have an idea for a blog post so I’m not going to write anymore here 😉

    1. Ooo oo hurry up and post it, I am intrigued now! Haha. Obviously I agree with everything you said. I think it’s part of the double edged sword of run blogging – it’s so great to meet other people who share your passions and goals and help motivate each other and for that reason I could never give it up. But I think there is an interesting dynamic in the run blog/social media world with everyone putting their training on display and “comparing notes”, so to speak. Before, you would just worry about who was beating you in races – now that you can see people’s training too, that competitiveness can creep into every day workouts as well.

      1. I tried to finish it before my lunch hour was over, but my thoughts are always a mess and I just ramble so I have to keep moving things around. I hope to finish it up tonight!

  6. It sounds like you are indeed in a very happy place. It’s almost like your training became a dark cloud weighing you down in every area of your life. Awesome that you can breathe easier now. The push to get faster can definitely be too consuming and too draining. I’ve been changing my focus ever since last year when I decided to not set time goals, and I’ve found a love for just running. But at the same time, that “How much faster can I get?” mentality creeps up on me every now and then. I think one of the reasons I’m so excited about training for my first marathon is that I won’t be focused on time. That’s so freeing!

    1. My first marathon was the only big race I’ve done that I did NOT have a time goal, and it really changed the dynamic of my training (in a good way!). That’s why I always try to urge the first time marathoners I know to not have one. I understand the temptation, but a first marathon is the one race that is really free from any pressure to perform a certain way (even more so, I think, than a first half marathon), so it’s nice to enjoy that while you can.

  7. I envy your decluttering process!
    It is good to take a break and mix it up, there will be a season again for training, but good to be able to have the freedom to choose whatever you want for the day has a huge value. When I was first couldn’t run distance because of my injury I missed it, but since then I have been changing. I think if I could just check off the marathon just once, I will be able to take a very long break from any distance running.

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