To say that my running year has been lacking would be an understatement. It’s certainly not at the level of 2013, which was my lowest mileage year since running, but it’s not been as good as my recent years. This past weekend, everything came to a head in some conversations with the wife, and I realized that I’m having a hard time having fun with it right now. The biggest reason for that is that I keep pushing to do big challenges that are beyond where my training level is right now.
I had a tremendous set of runs in late 2015, into 2016. I conquered Moose Mountain Marathon, followed it up with my first 50K at Surf the Murph, then dived into training for my first 50 miler at Zumbro. My plan was to knock out two more 50K’s in 2016, Spring Superior and Marquette. I ended up crashing and burning on Spring Superior, and Marquette wasn’t even close to being in the cards.
My goal this year was to get revenge on Spring Superior, and finally hit Marquette. As my winter unfolded, and injuries sidelined me, I kept seeing those goals becoming harder and harder to consider. I didn’t run Spring Superior at all, and this weekend I decided that Marquette wasn’t a good idea either. It’s not that I couldn’t go out and try and train with tremendous intensity and get a 50K done this year; I just don’t want to.
That’s where the ‘fun’ part comes in. I used to have a ton of fun training for races, but this year (and frankly after Zumbro 50), it’s just not clicking mentally. Every time I look at the training calendar and think about what I need to do to make it through a 50K like Marquette, I start to hate the idea of going for a run. I’m shooting for the moon, and realizing I won’t make it, and then dreading what it would take to even salvage the attempt.
However, the three races I’ve done this year at the 25K distance, have been really enjoyable for me. Afton was a good time, Trail Mix was something new and fun, and even Zumbro 17 was an amazing finish to a great weekend. I’ve always been more comfortable at the 13-16 mile distance, and this year showed that maybe I need to just stick with that for a while until I regain some of my longer distance legs under me again.
Therefore, I’m dropping from Marquette, and signing up for a couple shorter trail halfs: Surly Trail Loppet and Bluff Tuff Half. I feel like these are goal races that I can achieve, and even show some improvement on. Most importantly, I feel like I can enjoy training for them. Making the decision has had an immediate impact on my thoughts about running. I’m excited to get out and try to make some improvements at this distance and not fret about the fact that I haven’t had a 20 mile run yet this year.
I would suggest that if you’re struggling with running, and getting out the door, maybe revise your goals a bit. If you’re like me and your eyes are bigger than your (running) stomach, maybe it’s time to step back and rediscover what you loved about trails and running. Running is more than 50% mental. If you don’t take care of that half, it becomes a dread rather than a joy. Let’s not forget why we run, and recover the joy, even if it means putting off the craziest of adventures.