Running is a Source of Stress for Me

Confession time! (this post is a bit of a thought vomit for me – I haz so many thoughts)

This past three weeks I’ve done minimal running. This couldn’t have happened at a worse time. According to MyASICS training plan, I was supposed to have done one more long run (close to race pace) and quite a few tempo or tempo-like runs. I’ve done no long run and a few speed work sessions. I ran 4 times total (I think).

I know that there are people out there who love running. I mean, really love running. Like, they don’t like taking rest days. When they run, it feels like this:

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And on their blogs, they post stuff like this:

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I am NOT that person.

I don’t love running. I’m not even really sure if I like running. Running is not my life. I’m not even really sure if I should call myself a runner because I don’t have runner tattooed in my heart. It’s not a part of my self-concept.

Why do I run? It’s not to lose weight. It’s not for health reasons. It’s definitely not for runner’s high (I’ve never gotten one and I’m sure I never will).

I run because I LOVE racing. I’m a racer. It’s ridiculous how much I love racing. I’m a typical goal-oriented, problem-solving Type A personality. I love competition. Frankly, I love beating people. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say the last statement. There’s an ethos of how we’re only there for the love of running or only to race against ourselves. No, that’s not true for me. I’m out there to beat you. Not literally. But I love racing. Trying to edge out and outkick another runner right before the finish line. Comparing my finish time with the people who finished right before and right after me. Having a friendly rivalry with Nell, who is just a hair faster than me (before she got pregnant and gave birth). I can’t remember which blog I read this on (it was a while ago), but she wrote that she loved racing because it was the only socially acceptable way of being an asshole. I identified with statement and feeling so much.

I love setting goals for myself. I love breaking down a large goal into smaller concrete steps that I need to do in order to accomplish my goal. I don’t get a runner’s high, but I do get a sense of satisfaction of a work out well done and striking something off my long daily to-do list.

Because I have this type of relationship with running, running is not a stress reliever for me. Running, itself, is a form of stress. It’s another thing I need to do. I worry about getting the pace right. Running isn’t inherently enjoyable for me (I’m suffering as I’m running). People will then tell me to reframe how I think about running: “I don’t have to run, I get to run” or to learn how to find pleasure in running. I kinda roll my eyes at that. I understand that I’m privileged in that yes, I do get to run and be able-bodied and all that. But asking me to reframe running is like asking pigs to fly. Not biologically possible. It’s not a part of my personality.

I tend to place myself in situations (including my career), where I don’t necessarily like the every day things that go on. I don’t particularly like training. I don’t particularly like much of the every day things that I do at work. But I do love racing. I get an enormous high when the project is completed. The overall arching goals mean so much to me that I’m willing to slog through the mundane stuff to get there. I’m a bit of a masochist and I don’t think I would know what to do if I enjoyed everything (or most things) in my life. I need to suffer.

Anyway, the last three weeks have been crazy busy for me. Long hours at work (10-12 hour work days) with a long commute (2 – 2.5 hours total), moving, house renovation stuff, moving garbage (I help load 1.66 tons of garbage and construction debris), and wedding planning. Busy – I have thoughts about that too.

Last year there was a backlash against the “cult of the busy.” That no one is really *that* busy. That we glorify busy. It’s not that we don’t have time to do certain activities, but that we choose not to do those activities instead. I have lots of thoughts about those things and what people wrote (specifically what a terribly classist perspective they have on it). Bloggers write about how busy they are and how they still make/find time to go do their training and that there’s no excuse for not running. That’s all very good and well for them.

As for me, right now, I don’t want to run. The last thing I want to do after a long hard day at work is to go run. I’m already tired and cognitively depleted from work. Because running isn’t inherently fun for me, it takes a lot of cognitive energy to go run. I don’t have that energy after 12 hour day and 2.5 hours of round-trip commute time. I could wake up early to go run, but that’ll mean I’ll need to short change sleep. That’s something I *refuse* to do on a regular basis. Without a minimum of 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis, I succumb to illness. A few times during the last few weeks, I felt a scratchy throat (the warning signs of allergy-induced illness or falling sick because of bacteria/virus) and the best way for me to not get sick is to get an extra hour of sleep. I haven’t gotten sick despite being rather stressed out (stress compromises my immune system).

We’re still neck high with home renovation stuff. I can’t run when I need to help supervise the people we’ve hired with renovation. I’m too tired to run after Ben and I loaded 1.66 tons of garbage and construction debris (the guy we hired to help us was rather useless. He watched us more than he did anything. After a few hours, we paid him and sent him on his way.).

I’m too busy to run or I’m choosing not to run or however you care to put it. I don’t care. I run on my own terms.

I have a half marathon next week. Ben and I are planning on doing a 10-mile run this Saturday because I need another long run. I’ll try to do a tempo run next week and then “taper” (i.e., not run) for a few days. This isn’t best training plan for a half, but I’ve always been a realist and said you do the best you can and the best training plan is the one that you actually do. I’m rather proud of myself for sticking to the MyASICS training plan for as long as I did before completely derailing because usually I stop following after a month. This time I lasted for 2.5 months. So that’s a win for me.

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7 thoughts on “Running is a Source of Stress for Me

  1. Everyone’s different. Love how honest you are and just want to beat people lol. Sounds like you’re real busy. Great job for sticking to the My Asics plan for as long as you did! Also, good luck in your half marathon next week!

    • I am for now. Spring is always a busy time of year and this year, with so much going on, it’s even more so. In a couple of months, wedding will be here, the home reno will be over, and my work completed. Then I’ll have a couple months of relative unbusy-ness.

      Thanks for the good wishes.

  2. If I had a 12 hour day (and that crazy commute time) on top of renovating a house, I’d never run. Kobi would need a personal trainer though as she’s pretty badass if she’s not well exercised. I’d say you did pretty decent on your training plan and you have the drive to race hard. That’s what counts!

  3. That’s interesting — I really like this post. I usually advise people that if they hate running, they shouldn’t run, and instead find another activity that they do love. But, I’ve never come across someone who doesn’t like running, but loves to race. I must admit, I don’t love running 100% of the time, but do really, really love to race. Good for you for sticking with something you’re not crazy about, just to get out there and be competitive!

    • I don’t completely hate running, but I don’t get the same sense of joy that other runners seems to get. I read about bloggers saying that they get grumpy if they don’t get a run in. I have NEVER felt that way.

      But I do love racing with a passion.

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