Most people who know me, know that I love running. I love running because, simply, it's helped me figure out this thing called life, and I am a much better person because of it. Whenever I lace up my running shoes, it's a reminder of who I used to be and who I am now: a reminder of accomplishing things that I never even dreamed of (16 marathons and counting, amongst other things). If I can do that, then I can do anything! As corny as that may sound, it leads to confidence that you can't buy; if you believe you can do something then that is more than half the battle. No matter what life has thrown at me, running has always been the chicken soup to my soul, so I was quite surprised when I recently began to loath the idea of running.
It happened about a month and a half ago. I'll admit, I get "race happy" sometimes and start signing up for multiple races in close proximity to each other. Something about being able to do all of them...it's like a runners high or gym pump! Maybe I see it also as a challenge...how far can I push myself? Earlier this year, I signed up to do three full marathons in 62 days (the Kentucky Derby Marathon in April, the Fargo Marathon in May and Grandma's Marathon in early June)! A friend and I wanted to join the Marathon Maniacs club and, in order to do so, one needed to meet at least one of their many membership levels. One of these levels was to run three marathons in 90 days. But it didn't end there; I also had several local races in that same time frame. Maybe it was the confidence of youth or the cockiness of having so many races under my belt, but I didn't give it a second thought and filled up my race calendar. Fast forward to today and I can tell you that I won't ever try that again. Did I finish all my races? Yes; however, something happened after my second full. I pretty much loathed every run leading up to my third marathon; that exhilarating feeling that I use to get when I ran was rapidly fading. My body was fine, legs a little sore, but physically nothing out of the ordinary. It's almost like I checked out, and my heart wasn't in it anymore. I kept thinking of Apollo Creed, in Rocky III, telling Rocky, "You gotta get that look back, Rock, Eye of the Tiger, man...the way to get it back is to go back to the beginning." So I thought what is my "Eye of the Tiger"?
I think Steve Prefontaine sums it up best: "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." My goal had always been to be better than I was before and somehow along the way I lost sight of that. I burned out by constantly having a race and not giving it my best effort but just doing enough to finish. It was time to go back to the beginning and find my "Eye of the Tiger". I mean, if it was good enough for Rocky, then it's good enough for me, right? Haha.
I analyzed things and concluded that it isn't enough just to finish anymore, I'm past that and have been for a while now. I'm not going to PR every race, but it's about performing to the best of my ability. I owe myself that much. I owe running that much. I also recognized that I had taken my relationship with running for granted (A man take a relationship for granted?! What?! Such a thing never happens, right ladies?). I became complacent, and it was no longer a two-way street. I expected so much from running without putting in the work. It kind of makes you think because the same logic can be applied to other types of relationships that you have in your life.
After realizing all of this, action needed to be taken! I mapped out a plan which would take me back to the basics and concentrate on quality versus quantity. I took a sabbatical from running and it's been about a month since I last ran; It has been a good way of letting me recharge my batteries. I can tell it's helped because I've had that "itch" several times now to go running, especially when I see someone going for a run on the street. In the meantime, however, I've focused solely on lifting with my good friend Jose Rangel, owner of Paws & Bootcamp. I have done this for two reasons: One, to have a solid foundation on which I can build my running back up again and two, let's face it, I will always love food no matter how fit I am, and if I didn't exercise I would gain back all the weight I lost over the years. It's all about moderation and having a plan keeps me focused...both in exercising and in life.
This brings us to the present where I have signed up for one single race, and I'm concentrating all my efforts on that race, the Philadelphia Marathon in November. My official running training plan, which is based on the Hansons Marathon Method, starts TODAY! I've read great things about this plan and have already planned the workouts out and put them on my calendar.
It's not going to be easy and is unlike anything I've done before, but I am confident that if I do the work, I will PR in November. I will keep you updated on the training in an effort to motivate those out there and to keep myself accountable.
This will serve as a reminder that when that early morning alarm clock goes off and I want to hit the snooze button, instead I will be focused! I will tell myself, "Johnny, rise and shine! Time to go to work! If you want something you've never had before, then you've have to do something you've never done before.
I look forward to that first run because, just like I made the decision to get off that couch many years ago to start running, today I do it again to start back up again! Go Johnny, run!