I’ve reached a point in my running career where I struggle with knowing where to go. One-half of me wants to get better, run faster, tackle longer distances and chase PRs. The other part of me wants to take pleasure in the journey, to run comfortably even if it means running slowly because it feels good and I simply enjoy it.
Last weekend I ran my slowest 10k race to date. Yes, the weather conditions were unfavourable, but I couldn’t help but to measure myself next to other runners who still finished with amazing times and near PRs. It’s hard not to feel disheartened by the fact that the male winner of the half marathon finished long before I crossed the finish line. I sometimes think that I might want to tackle a half marathon in the near future and my mind automatically fears how long it will actually take me. I admit I’ve completely fallen victim to the comparison trap and I question my desire and integrity to grow because I don’t push myself harder. Am I just giving up because it’s hard? Maybe I could be a better runner if I just did better.
Ashley recently published a post about why she’s changed her expectations for her upcoming half marathon. Instead of pushing for a PR, she plans to just enjoy the race and finish with a smile on her face. Her post reminded me of the kind of runner I want to be. I don’t want to finish a race and feel bad about my time because it’s much slower than those around me. I don’t want to dread going out for a run because I hate the feeling of a speed workout. I don’t want to question whether I’m good enough because I don’t desire to push myself to the point of discomfort. I don’t want to hate running because I don’t thrive on the challenge of pushing through the barriers. Maybe I could be a better runner if I just let go of expectations and comparisons.
I want to enjoy every single step I take on a run. I want to be able to admire my body for carrying me through every single race, across every single finish line. I want to feel strong like I did during last week’s race because my pace allowed me to run without stopping. I want to be able to take in the scenery, to smile at other’s out on the trails, to smile at myself because I’m running for the pure enjoyment of running. I don’t want to be afraid to run a half because I might be ashamed of how long it takes me to finish. I want to be proud of my running journey, because, after all, it’s MY journey.
So thank you, Ashley, for showing me what kind of runner I truly want to be right now. For reminding me that not everyone’s running story consists of PR’s and Boston qualifying and to stop getting caught up in comparing myself to my runner friends. It might take me awhile to let go of those expectations, but at least I know what fork in the road to take while I run. And who knows, maybe someday down the road I will feel the motivation to be the other kind of runner and be in a place where I can truly enjoy that journey too.
What does this mean for the Calgary Marathon 10k this weekend? It means, I’m not going to put pressure on myself to PR this race. I’m going to soak up the experience, take time to appreciate the beauty of downtown Calgary, smile at the cheer sections and the bands playing and the crowds when I make my way back to the Stampede Grounds to cross the finish line.