Half-marathon training is upon me again. Not surprisingly, I’m not prepared for it. It’s the story of my running life.
A while back, I signed up for the Austin Half Marathon, thinking (and hoping, maybe even praying) that it would give me the fire and motivation to train seriously for a half-marathon. The problem with being inside a series of long-term transitions as I have been for the past year is that it becomes exceedingly difficult to make long-term commitments. I really want to make commitments—I’m not scared of them—but economic pressure and employment upheaval have conspired to drain much of the energy I used to be spend on athletic pursuits. Over the summer, during the hardest weeks, going for a daily walk was the best I could do. During the thick of our move to Austin, I didn’t even get my daily walk because we were so flattened by our to-do lists.
But now! Ah, sweet now. Our move to Austin is history. Sweltering summer temps have come down into milder October days. My work schedule is gaining a semi-predictable rhythm. We’re finding our groove in the house, working and playing together. I’m starting to imagine that maybe, just maybe, I can find the time and energy for my running life again.
I know I’m not alone in my struggle to find a running groove. It’s hard. If it weren’t hard, we wouldn’t spend so many words talking about “motivation” and “time management.” Running inevitably asks us to sacrifice something: free time, sleep, chores, time with family and friends, maybe even work. By definition, I think a sacrifice hurts. It pains us to give something up. To put it bluntly, I suppose I haven’t been too keen on additional sacrifices in the last few years. My employment ups and downs robbed me of any notions of career or financial stability. Finding that stability for myself has been my top concern, my top priority, the thing I’ve been chasing most obsessively. Running kinda fell off my list of priorities, as sad as that is to admit.
Much like blogging, I knew, deep down, that running was something to which I would return. Eventually. I love the way running makes me feel: calm, powerful, capable. I love the rhythm of my sneakers against the path. I love the way running serves as a release valve for stress and frustration. I don’t want the Detroit Marathon to be my first and only marathon (gah, I never thought I’d say THAT!). Despite my lack of consistent running, I still feel like a runner, and I still feel like running is always available to me, even if I’ve been a disloyal runner.
Which brings us to the present moment: late October, with a half-marathon on the schedule in about four months. If I decide to give this race my best effort from now to race day, I think to myself, what’s the worst that could happen? I run the race more slowly that I would have if I had started training earlier and better? Is that not an outcome with which I can live? After all, I’d still get my chance to restart my training. I’d get to reclaim my identity as a runner. I’d still get to enjoy my race day here in Austin. And fingers crossed, my friend JD will make it to Austin for the race, and we’ll get to enjoy his visit together.
You know what? All of that sounds AWESOME. I have every reason to say YES now. What’s in the past is over. I remember writing my thoughts on imperfect marathon training and feeling so happy that I had been brave enough to continue with my training despite all the reasons I had to ditch the marathon.
There is truly no better day to go for a run than today. I know that finding time to run will continue to be a challenge for me because of my freelancer’s schedule. But what is life but a series of trying, failing, and trying again? If it were easy, there’d be no glory in it, no accomplishment at the end of the finishing chute.
So here’s me, trying again. Here’s to a running life, defined not by a single training cycle but by the return to running, over and over again.