The Heavy Half

(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.

*ahem* Anyways…

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.


5 thoughts on “The Heavy Half

  1. Katie Squires May 31, 2013 / 2:33 pm

    I felt a little similar early early this year…last year I felt like I had to do everything everyone else was doing (again just my own sill head, no one really thinking that)…I didn’t want to miss out on anything. Then at the beginning of the year when I started to think about my own goals I relazied that I had a very specific one in mind and that I couldn’t do it all. Letting go of that stuff for me let go of a lot of anxiety and worry. and if I am honest jealousy too…I used to get jealous when I wasn’t doing something big too..not ugly green jealous…but sad blue jealous 🙂 Its so easy to get caught up in the bigger and bigger…the go harder, faster, farther. But we each have our own thing, and look at what you have done! You have done HUGE BIG AMAZING things this year. And you will continue to do so in your own way. It’s freeing. but man it is emotional isn’t it. Good job for figuring this stuff out, and taking care of you and your OWN dreams and goals.

  2. Josee May 31, 2013 / 2:57 pm

    First off… HUGE cyber hugs!!!! You are very brave to have written this down and to have shared it for everyone to see.

    I think a lot of people feel this way (or at least I hope they do… and that is it not just you and me!). For most of my childhood I yearned to fit in with people. And becasue of that, like you, I tended to be a pleaser – trying to do everything the others were doing becasue they were doing it and I didn’t want to feel left out.

    In running, I think it is very easy to get to that point when you see those around you accomplishing more and more. Being surrounded by people who are running longer distances and faster paces and, like Katie said above, doing more, more more, it is really hard not to feel like you better do it too or you are going to be left behind (literally and figuratively).

    You might SAY that running IS an individual sport… all you need are a pair of runners and a path and you can do it… but in all honesty, when you start training with friends and encircling yourself in a group of people doing the same sport, you can’t help but feel the “group aspect” of it and those feelings of NEEDING to do more just to keep up… all I am saying is I totally get it.

    Allyson told me once that she had been told that once you “get” to a certain distance, you should stay at that distance for a year before moving on – giving your body a chance to get comfortable at that distance and improving upon it before you decide if you want to move on to the next distance… I think Allyson’s a pretty smart cookie.

    I’m trying to tell myself to listen to her too – and to stick with the 10k that I am so proud of achieving (and if I do the math, I achieved that 10k almost 1 year after my first 5k, btw) until trying to leave it in my dust.

    As for the Army half – why not do what Jay suggested in genious (and I decided to jump on her coat tails and do the same) and volunteer to be a marshall… that way, you don’t miss out on any of that race high?

  3. Laura May 31, 2013 / 3:01 pm

    Hey lady! I totally get this. It’s easy to get swept away with the crowd, but I had a realization last fall that until I lost a significant amount of weight, I wouldn’t be able to handle that kind of distance without daily battles with shin splints. That said, I’m not even sure they would disappear with the weight loss. The reality is that I am not built to be a long distance runner. 10K may very well be my happy max. As for keeping up the friendships – I think that being your own person and making these types of decisions for yourself can bring you more respect in your circle. Besides, you’ll be coming up with a bunch of other cool ideas while you’re busy keeping in shape 🙂

  4. Allee May 31, 2013 / 4:52 pm

    Whatever you decide to do, I am sill your biggest cheerleader. I learned that as long as I am happy and remember to have fun, all is good. I have goals but I allow myself lots of time to achieve them so I can build up slowly and enjoy the journey. Enjoy your journey, its the thing memories are made of.

  5. Trace June 1, 2013 / 2:53 pm

    What a BRAVE and HONEST post!!!! Good for you for not just putting this “out there” with your feelings but for also realizing what you were doing, recognizing it and accepting it, and moving forward.

    I’m not a people pleaser and haven’t really struggled with “fitting in”-probably because largely I’ve never cared what “everyone else” was doing or if someone liked me or not. I think that comes from having a people pleaser for a Mom, and seeing how that can be used against you.

    With running, I’ve always been very clear about my own goals and my own limitations. It’s why I DON’T sign up for a bazillion things a year. (well, and financially/budgetting!) I set a rule for myself of max 2-3 races a year, and 1-2 other “events”. This year, I knew I wanted to try for my half, on a significant date. I chose the Manotick Road Race as training, the half, and I may do one or two other events before this year is out. I always think everything else looks like a blast-but I can’t do it all and I have to do the ones that matter most to me. So, all that blabber being said, I totally GET what you are saying and I totally RESPECT your decision.

    Running for me is social. I run 1000x better when I’m running WITH someone. It doesn’t have to be in a race, it just has to be a run. 🙂 Anytime you want to ‘just run” I’m your gal. 🙂 I think we all need to appreciate and recognize our own talents and goals and interests. My husband, despite my pushing, has no interest in going over 10k. No interest in a half. He says all of “that” would take away from running for him. On the other hand, he bikes everywhere and loves it-it’s his joy. There is not “one” that is better than the other.

    I think it’s a HUGE step to realize that, to evaluate your own goals and wishes, and to do what is going to make YOU happiest. Most of all though, please, don’t feel you have to be “happy/perky, UP” or anything other than your true authentic self. If people don’t like it or you-in the grand scheme of things in life? What does it/they matter? If anything, it’ll weed the people out that are a waste of your time anyways! 🙂

    Keep on being YOU.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s