It’s early March and I’m in a running slump. I ended 2017 with lots of mileage and kicked off 2018 with a bang, completing a 10K trail race the first weekend in January! And then….it went downhill from there. We’ve had a pretty brutal winter in Michigan — below zero temps, way more snow and ice than usual and then major flooding…none of which equates to good running conditions.
I don’t belong to a gym, so my choices for working out include running outside, using our indoor stationary bike, or swimming at the pool where I work (which has crappy hours). Unfortunately, my motivation for doing anything is non-existent at the moment so I’m lucky if I get 1-2 workouts of any kind in a week, compared to my normal 4-5.
This is when I start asking myself why I (continue to) run. Why push myself to do something that is more work than fun? Why ignore my family and friends and try to carve time out of my week to run 20+ miles (total)? Why spend more time getting bundled up in a gazillion layers to freeze my butt off for just a few miles at a time?
WHY?? I really have no freaking idea. LOL
Is it because I’m crazy? Because of peer pressure? Because it’s supposed to be healthy? Because I’m competitive? I suppose the real answer is all of that and more.
- In 2010 I saw friends running half marathons at cool places like Disney and the Grand Canyon and thought it looked like fun. (Running 13 miles for fun?!? Definitely crazy.)
- In 2012 my former employer was sponsoring employees to complete a local race and I wanted to be a part of it. (Peer Pressure for sure!)
- I was on the swim team and ran track in high school, but that was almost 20 years ago. I wasn’t totally out of shape, but I definitely needed to do something or I was headed in that direction (Running is technically healthy for you, if you do it right.)
- If friends who were in worse shape than I was and had never run before could do a half marathon, then dang it, I could do one! (Nope, not competitive at all. Plus, those medals they got looked awesome!)
So, I bought new shoes and running clothes, found a training plan and ran my first 5K. Then a 10K, then a half. Running soon became an obsession.
But what kept me running? Since that first race in 2012 I’ve completed many 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, team marathons, relays and triathlons – including unique places like Disney and beautiful places like Colorado, Canada, over the Mackinac Bridge or in northern Michigan. I’ve had the pleasure to run races with childhood friends, college friends, fellow Skirt Sports ambassadors, local running buddies and even strangers who became friends after meeting them in a corral. For five years, friends and awesome race locations (and fancy shiny medals) were all I needed to keep me running.
But, by the middle of last year I wasn’t really enjoying it anymore. I’d been having a lot of injuries from pounding pavement and I was bored with regular road races. I was sick of running the same training routes and dealing with traffic.
So the second half of 2017 I began running trails to see if that made a difference. It only took me a few runs before I knew trails were definitely more my style.I love nature, wildlife and exploring new places, and running trails gave me all of that and more.
I ran trails every chance I got — on our vacations in Tennessee, Canada, Northern Michigan, Florida and in local parks near our house — and was amazed at all the things I found venturing off the sidewalks and into the woods. Trails are also much kinder on my body – I’ve had fewer injuries and pains, though I’ve taken my share of tumbles already from those pesky hidden roots! Exploring the unknown, seeing beautiful scenery, encountering all sorts of wild animals, and enjoying the solitude of the woods have become the new reasons why I run.
(I do still love to run with my friends, that part hasn’t changed, but it’s harder to convince them to run trails!)
In fact, trail running so intrigued me that it led me to decide (in a spur of the moment and momentary lapse in sanity – oh yeah, and peer pressure!) to sign up for my first marathon. Many know that running a marathon was NOT on my bucket list – and yet, I find myself signed up for the North Country Trail Marathon on August 25th. Yikes! That means, I need to get myself out of this winter blues slump and find my motivation if I’m going to be ready.
The more I think about it, the original answers to why I (continue to) run are still valid no matter what type of running I’m doing. Trails or no trails, it’s still hard to bundle up and get out the door when it’s <20 degrees outside and your family is warm and cozy watching a movie. But, I remember what is waiting for me at the end….the overall satisfaction of accomplishing something, because no matter what, that craziness and competitive spirit aren’t going anywhere! (And I suppose the fun shiny medal doesn’t hurt either!)