Part of me gets excited when I see someone training hard in my group, breaking the sweat, running Fast. I ask people what is their routine and how is that they go about running so fast. People generally share their tips in a very humble way, thats when I realize Holy cow , that is hard. In my pursuit to do the best I can, last 2 months I have been running a lot. Pretty much more than Half Marathons on every weekend for more than 5 weeks in a row and close to 45-50 Km per week. That is quite a lot by my own standards. Hoping to get fast, I started doing a lot of things. Focus on nutrition, strength training and long runs.
It started quite well, for the first two weeks I was easily 5-10 seconds fast in the v02 sessions with my running group. People used to complement that I am running fast. It gave me a confidence boost. So I continued doing that. 3-4 running sessions, long run on Saturday, lots of whey protein ,kick ass strength training on Sundays.
Past four weeks, my timings gave me a strange feeling. I was working hard, training a lot but my timing wan’t improving the way it started. I was expecting it to skyrocket based on the initial head start. As the weeks progressed from 3 to 6, I was running on different tracks, different terrains . Slowly and gradually my body was hitting a low.
Training will make you better if only you do it the right way. I dont know what is the right way. Everyone is different with different capacities. Its good to push yourself to the limit, as long as you dont Break yourself to the point you cannot un do it and get back to where you were if not better. I don’t know If I have broken myself, its too early to evaluate that. I have seen lot of people training hard and hitting the wall and end up being different there after. Some have got injuries and some have become slow. On the bright side there are few who have turned the tables, and it is those people who continue to inspire me.
Lucky for me, I have never been seriously injured through any sports. May be I know my limitations well and try to confide within those or may it was plain luck or may be I wasn’t working too hard which I tend to disagree. Somehow now I feel that may have turned around, I was feeling uncomfortable running even for 30 minutes few weeks ago. For a long distance runner like me who is hoping to run 100k some day in future that seems like a big blow.
I felt disappointed. Then I realized I am only human, perhaps more limited than I like to be. I realized I need rest, I am not recovering well as I would have hoped. Running must not get this hard, if it is then something is not going well. Then I decided to take a break. Two weeks, less than 20 km . It sucks. It feels like somebody has cut my limbs, it feels like I have lost my powers basically it feels miserable. Specially when your buddies are running fast as ever without breaking sweat.You as competitive as you really are , can only Sit and watch.
This sabbatical from running is perhaps good. In the course of Performance running I have forgotten the real reason why I started in first place. Over emphasis on accolades and personal records has made me work hard which is good, but that should not take the joy out of running.Somewhere I feel a bit lost. This temporary stop is helping me to realize my passion for running.
Here is quote from one of my favorite athlete, Roger Federer.
“Sometimes you’re just happy playing. Some people, some media unfortunately don’t understand that it’s okay just to play tennis and enjoy it. They always think you have to win everything, it always needs to be a success story, and if it’s not obviously what is the point. Maybe you have to go back and think, Why have I started playing tennis?
Because I just like it. It’s actually sort of a dream hobby that became somewhat of a job. Some people just don’t get that ever.”
I started running as a means to be fit. Running is perhaps one of the easy and great work out routine. As I continued to run my objectives changed. I felt good about running so I started running longer and faster. Running long and fast became a personal goal and challenge for me. We all know having a personal goal makes life so exiting. We all want to pursue something outside work, which can entertain us. If that makes us better in someways then the motivation is even higher. Running became a motivation for me. I started running marathons. Marathons gave me a sense of direction and happiness. Here I was running pretty fast, doing well and then there were other faster runners. I wanted to be those fast runners. It inspired me.
Its been more than two years I have moved into Singapore. Running has different set of challenges in Singapore compared to India. In Singapore the weather is much hot and humid. I never was sweating this much. On the up side there are lot of running tracks and places to run.Thanks to the low crime city, One can Run at anytime , which of course is night time because the day is too hot.
In Singapore I was lucky to find a competitive running group, Singapore Shufflers. My changed Running goals got a perfect kick start and conditioning. Now I felt like an Athlete. In fact I was training like an athlete. I ran numerous Marathons. My Running mileage was the highest of my life.All was good. When you are competitive , enough is never enough. You want more. You want to faster than before. I was never going to be the fastest of the country nor break the top 20/30. I somehow feel the nature has conspired against me not be that fast. However still I wanted to do the best I could.
This past week , When I look back I realized, Having goals is good. Running fast is good. Running Long distance is good. But that is not why I started Running. It started as an experiment and continued because I liked it. It is the passion for running . Somehow that passion seem to have been lost in the midst of performance goals, which is sucking the joy out of my passion.
It is a good reminder and a lesson. Time to rediscover the love for running.
Photo credits: Google