For us runners, this time of year is often a time when we reflect on the races we want to do and times that we dream of running. It’s a time of open possibility and optimism, a time to explore our potential and really get after it.
The fire burns bright and the passion runs deep when we are healthy, when we are seeing progress, when everything is going well. But what about when things inevitably don’t go as we expected them to? When your new job is stressing you out, your kid is keeping you up at night, or you’ve picked up yet another injury or illness? What happens to the fiery flame of passion then?
While I have all the “freudenfreude” in the world for those who are crushing it in their running right now. My hope is that this article can reach those who’ve struggled with their running, those whose New Years resolutions are waning, or who are just going through a hard time right now. Know that you are not alone, and struggle is all part of sustainable progress in this sport we love.
Having just worked through 12 weeks of injury, here are some ways I’ve managed to keep the spark alive enough to cross train and build my way back:
1. Community. As individual of a sport running is, some of the best memories and experiences are shared with teammates and other members of the Island Race Series community. Finding ways to stay connected to the sport by cheering your teammates and being part of the community can help, even for a moment, snap out of self-focused negative rumination, and help you remember why you love this sport.
2. Temperance. As frustrating as it is to be injured, sick or have life get in the way, we can’t rush the process and force a comeback. Things take time, often much more time than we realize. Embracing the discomfort of that truth, and accepting where we are to get where we want to go, is a key skill to practice.
3. Rest. Crushing your workouts and races is awesome; but it must be replicated over and over again for long term success. Rest is the key ingredient here. Give yourself permission to ease back slowly, to take a day off if you’re really exhausted, to take that nap. Think of rest as a skill. How good can you get at resting? Can you perfect sleep hygiene? Can you embrace rest guilt-free, and let go of the need to train too soon because you may be anxious?
As we navigate injury, illness and stress, there is no magic solution. Sometimes things just suck, and that’s okay. But trust the process, reflect and learn what works for you. And if you’re at a loss, give community, temperance and rest a try. These lessons are the overlooked blessings that our running journeys can reveal!