(Note: I’m getting all up in my emotionals today. Made a decision and it has made me think about the steps I have taken to be a better me. Please don’t think I’m sad or worried, y’all. I’m not!)
So everyone has been asking me “What’s next?” after my Spartan Sprint. Well, I have a 5k with a friend on Canada Day, but that isn’t what they mean.
I’ve had a ton of folks ask me when my first Half Marathon will be. And honestly?
I don’t know.
I had originally thought Army Run this year could be it, but then I took a good hard look at Running Me, right now. How I run, what I want from running, where I am in my running journey, and came to the conclusion that giving myself that goal by Fall was going to be a little fast. I have said before that I want to always run happy. I was worried that putting the pressure on myself to be able to double my distance by September would stop the happy.
So I have not signed up. I am ok with this. This is a big statement from me, and here is why (get ready for the emotional):
I had no idea this decision of when/if to run a Half had been weighing on me, socially. I felt like I had to make a decision, and please everyone. (I know, I know… not the case, but this is my brain, and it is lots of fun sometimes.) I am my own worst enemy when it comes to pressure. I am my own peer pressure, I suppose you could say. Heh. Now if only that pressure was to NOT eat the chocolate, it would be great.
Since beginning to run with other folks last Fall, it has been life changing in so many amazing ways. The gratitude I have for the women (and some men now too, yay!) I run with really can’t be expressed. I have mentioned it before, but I could not keep going without their support. The friendships I have because of running are awesome. I feel whole again, after not having many close-friends once having kids. The first year living in Ottawa was lonely for me, even with a new husband and a new baby boy.
but that is past now, I’ve come a long way, baby.
When I was introduced to Run Club, and as I met and got to know folks, I found myself being swept up in a self-imposed pressure to participate and be part of the group, run races and achieve with them when it came to longer distances. I wanted to be included. I wanted to be accepted.
This has been my issue since I was young. I always felt strange, weird, not “cool”, and would sometimes try hard to fit in, with the opposite results happening. I was always a target for bullies, rumours, and it was ostracizing. I made bad decisions, wanting the attention, and I was excluded, sometimes even shunned. Was it any wonder I hated school, for the most part, and dropped out when ^&*% in my life went South? I just wanted to belong, but couldn’t figure out how to, or how to talk to anyone about it. Kinda destructive, and more isolating than inclusive.
I had areas of my life where I did fit in, namely horses, running, and later on, my paintball adventures. But that “Do they still like me and want to be friends?” question always nagged me, and made me try hard to participate, be giving, amenable, and happy. Don’t rock the boat. Eschew confrontation. Always smile even when you don’t wanna. Be the life of the party. Don’t give them a reason to not like you.
So, needless to say, I saw myself slipping into this mind pattern this past year, trying hard to “fit in” and “be liked”, and beginning to feel that anxiousness that comes from the whole question of “Am I?”. I fought it, and didn’t really talk too much about it to anyone, other than the Big Guy “upstairs” *points up*. Lots and lots of heavy (internal) conversations happened on my runs. When I did participate, it was awesome and empowering, so the pressure was not all bad. But it can snowball, and it did.
I finally had to dial back my long runs this past winter, which made me unbearable to be around for a few days, and really affected me emotionally. I wanted to run as long as the other folks, tried, but my body said “Uhh, hang on, we aren’t ready for that yet.” and started to break down. The nights of tears and worries I had seem ridiculous now, but it was stemmed from the anxiety of not being able to do what my brain was telling me I had to, to keep my friends. Bottom line was, I needed to re-evaluate my plan, and it was the right move.
My body stayed injury free all winter and I ran all winter, with friends! Achievement unlocked.
I also toughed out SAD this winter while having interrupted sleep from a wee baby girl, job silliness, and dealing with hubs looking for work. I tried not to advertise it too much, or let it affect my social interactions (it sometimes did, or I broke down and talked to someone about it). There were days I just felt alone and down, and tried to push it away by surrounding myself with as many run friends, family, and social distractions as I could. Physical effort is a balm, and helped a lot more than I thought it would. Despite being so active all winter, I think the SAD did affect my net weight loss of zero over the winter, though.
So in saying I am not participating in a race that a lot of my fit friends are is a big, big deal, for me. Deciding not to follow is huge.
Thinking about what my next big goal will be has made me better understand the pressures I give myself to set goals of a tangible nature to feel included and accepted. I have thought a lot about how I need to set goals just for me, like I did for the Army Run last year. I also am acknowledging that I can slip into the anxiousness of acceptance. Thinking about when to up my distance to cover a half marathon has helped me recognize my anxiety and stop before it affects my day-to-day.
So I do not know what my next big running goal is. Whether it be a race, or a non-race goal. I haven’t decided. But when I do, it will be because I want to run it happy, and for myself, and then celebrate it with my friends.