Why you need to give yourself a high five, no matter how your running is going
Plus Hollie's new ebook, and races in Georgia, New Hampshire, Texas, D.C. + a virtual national park relay
“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.”
“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.”
Being a new runner is so exciting. It’s like being a kid. You don’t know how good you have it until you’re an adult, and wish you had the wisdom to appreciate it.
Once you get over the initial hurdle of being consistent in running, the accomplishments of ticking off new distances, new personal records, and even obtaining new running gear happens frequently. You get that lovely little boost of feel-good hormones with each new accomplishment.
The longer you are a runner though, the accomplishments and new stuff starts to become further spaced apart. People often ask what’s next after setting a personal record or accomplishing a new distance.
And you might chase down one path or another to see what is out there, pushing yourself to go longer, faster, or in new arenas.
‘Some runners might find that being motivated to run is the hardest part of being a runner, but I find the opposite to be true: I always want to run.’
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m hooked on seeking out longer, faster, and more outlandish. I’m far from doing it all, but it’s getting harder and harder to cook up new ways to push the limits.
It’s one of the big reasons that I hired a coach as I have a hard time with self-control when it comes to doing too much.
Perhaps some runners might find that being motivated to run is the hardest part of being a runner, but I find the opposite to be true: I always want to run.
My running has been in a plateau of sorts right now. I feel healthy and I have no injuries. I’ve had some decent races this year.
Nothing is inherently wrong, but I got so used to hitting personal records in both distance and speed that I feel like I’m in a bit of a plateau right now. And I catch myself playing the comparison game of when I felt like I was in top form.
PSA: this is not a fun game.
‘I’ve had some great workouts, but I know the underlying stress is eating away at me.’
Some runners appear to be thriving under the stress of 2020. They are using the extra time they have that they might have been gearing up for races, traveling, or commuting to go out and do some really cool things.
This goes for amateurs and pros alike. There are fastest mile challenges, vertical ascent challenges, runners setting new distance PRs, and challenges involving logging insane amounts of miles on their feet.
I get inspired with what they are doing and mentally want to get after it myself, but physically, my body just seems to be humming along.
Look, I’ve had some great workouts, some amazing “fun runs” where I pushed my limits, and am not bashing my own accomplishments, but I know the underlying stress is eating away at me.
When I catch myself being self-critical, I know I have to change my own tune. No one but me cares about how fast I am or how far I can run.
Yeah, those moments feel great for those moments, but what about all the runs that got me there in the first place? When I’m able to step away from it, I am better able remember the big picture.
‘Those feel-good hormones can come from the mundane. They can come from the everyday consistency and passion of just showing up.’
I am able to appreciate the easy runs that time seems to melt away. I am able to appreciate the workout that I was dreading, but ended up leaving me feeling accomplished for the day.
I am able to appreciate the distances my own two feet can cover on a long run. They aren’t all joyful for sure. That’s just life. But those feel-good hormones can come from the mundane. They can come from the everyday consistency and passion of just showing up.
With all that is happening in the world, getting out the door to run is an accomplishment. Even if you haven’t been directly affected by it, everyone’s lives are different than they were in the beginning of 2020.
So yes, kudos to all those runners who are pushing their faster and longer limits in 2020. But also sending out kudos to my fellow runners who are just showing up, day after day, just running to run.
Races (real and virtual) you might love running
Black Bear Half Marathon
Waterville Valley, N.H. | Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020
You’ll run through the forested trails of New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley at this Labor Day weekend race, which organizers say is still on thanks to its small size — the race is limited to just 50 participants, and all points of interaction will be contactless.
$80 and up | Sign up here
Skidaway Island Half Marathon
Skidaway Island, Ga. | Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020
Located just over a 20-minute drive from downtown Savannah, this island that’s home to the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and Wormsloe Plantation, whose live oaks draped in Spanish moss frame a state historic site that was built in the early 1700s, Skidaway Island plays host to what is undoubtedly one of the flattest races you’ll find. “This will be a low touch, staggered start event allowing for all social distancing protocols to be complied with,” organizers say.
$30 and up | Sign up here
The Great National Park Relay
Virtual | Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020
Choose a National Park Service-themed team to join (like Acadia National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, etc.) and on the day of the relay, you’ll run as far as you can — in one hour. The race starts at midnight on Sept. 26 and finishes at midnight the next day; when you join a team, you’ll be one of 24 runners (for each hour in the day) — you might be running at 6 a.m., you might be running at 6 p.m.!
$29.95 | Sign up here
9/11 Memorial Half
Washington, D.C. | Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020
Run along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath for this small race near Georgetown just outside D.C., dedicated to the honor and sacrifice of those currently in the U.S. military and those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
$60 and up | Sign up here
Bigger in Texas Challenge
Virtual | June 1 — Dec. 31, 2020
You still can sign up for this event that will take you (virtually!) all around the state of Texas — run the 80 miles between the state capital of Austin and San Antonio, or run as far as the 218-mile-long trek between Austin and Corpus Christi, along the Texas Gulf Coast.
$40 and up | Sign up here
Great running reads
These Ultramarathoners Say Life Is Easier After Running 40 Miles on Backwoods Frozen Trails. A fascinating look at what makes ultra-marathoners tick, and why running what might seem like unreal distances turn out to be “fun.”
“It wasn’t about fast finish times or jostling with other competitors. Participants like her go slower, mostly alone, through pretty places. She liked that. ‘I could do this for eight hours,’ she thought. ‘I could do this for 12 hours; I could do this all night.’”
5 Running Goals That Have Nothing to Do With Racing. With most races shut down for now, suddenly we have space to try new challenges we probably wouldn’t have imagined before — like picking up our mile pace, or simply running technology-free.
“Every once in a while, it’s good to give yourself a tech detox. You’ll find you’re less tempted to chase a certain pace and instead are more likely to run by listening to your body’s many cues.”
Running Past an Olympic Dream. For years, Kyle Merber has been singularly focused on making it into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But the coronavirus lockdown has led him to reevaluate his obsession — and rediscover joy in running.
“I decided to do something really new. I think the biggest thing is I got excited to train again. Maybe what I’d been doing for so long had gotten stale.”
A song to run to today
“Belong” from the album Out Of Time by R.E.M.
Want to hear all the songs we include in our newsletters? Get our full playlist, which contains 7 hours of music to run to. (Link available to paying subscribers)
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Good things for all to remember as we muddle through this year the best we can.
That was a good read and I, too, relate to much of that. I think that’s why I feel such a loss with this pandemic, not because I “did all that training for nothing” but because I wanted to see the fruits of my labor. I wanted to see if it all paid off and what I did right and what I could have done better.
So now that there’s no use crying over spilled milk, which I’ve done for a good part of this year, I am trying to be in a state of finding a way over the plateau. Quite frankly, I find that training for a race is motivating and I’m bored as heck now with nothing to “train for”. Now I get outside to run and I’m like “what do I do now?” I did sign up for that National Parks Relay...something cool and different and I’d like to see just how far I can run in an hour. Now I get to train for that at least. I do have 7 half marathons in 7 days in October through mainly marathons so that will be my next training session, as long as that isn’t cancelled too. But that’s the thing...deep down I’m so discouraged that there’s a thought lingering in the back of my mind saying “this, too, shall be cancelled”. I can’t control the end result but I can control what I do and how seriously I rake my training, or just do it with no real goal.
Speaking of no goal, I got my days AND MONTHS mixed up recently thinking it was still June. I signed up for a marathon taking place in July (last weekend) thinking I had a month to train for it. Nope!...4 days from the night I signed up for it! Goodness I’m losing my marbles lol! But it was fun! It was a 10pm race and I got 1st place in my age division! My friends also placed as well!! Honestly I think a lot of people dropped down from the full to to half throughout the race. It started off as a lot of people then slowly dwindled. Anyhoo, we finished and it felt great to do an in-person long race.
Hope everyone is doing well :)