I’m not a natural born runner. When I first started running I got excited when I accomplished one mile without stopping, working my way up until I finally ran my first 5K race. I’ve also never been a graceful runner, more like a frantic monkey with an annoying tick on his rear. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Then I ran my first half marathon, and my second..third…and fourth.. and suddenly 3 mile runs were a sad excuse for a workout. I started to believe that if I didn’t run at least 5 miles in one period of time it was a waste, and my workout would suffer.
Not only did I worry about miles, I started to obsess about time. Always wanting to improve and get faster. Overall, I don’t see anything wrong with this. As humans we should want to improve and better ourselves in all aspects of our lives, but not at the expense of our happiness. I started to loathe my runs, and I stopped running all together.
A few months ago I wrote a post about switching up my workouts, with hopes that I would fall back in love with running. While stepping away from running was beneficial, I ended up mentally stepping away all together and not fully enjoying any run I would do. Running felt forced, and relationships should never feel forced, in any aspect of life.
Lately I’ve had a strong mental desire to run, but anytime I started I wanted to stop. I’ve decided it’s time to go back to the beginning, and run the way I did when I first started. 3 mile runs are better than no runs. If I enjoy the miles that’s what matters. Along with taking the stress away from the miles, I’ve forced myself to slow down my running pace. This is much easier said than done! Fellow runners can relate.
Over the last couple years I worked my way from 11 minute miles..to 10 minute miles..to 9 minute miles, with a few runs in the 8 minute pace. I’m very proud of this, and I proved to myself with a bit of hard work and motivation the increase is possible. Now that I know I am capable of running “faster” it’s easier to settle back into a 10 minute mile and still hold onto my confidence as a runner, because we all know every runner thinks about pace.
One day my comfortable pace may be a 9:00 min mile, but for now I only foresee quicker runs happening during races, and on days that I’m feeling wild. I’m going to listen to my body and base my pace strictly on how I feel -fast or slow.
Long story short: my overall goal is to feel just as accomplished with a slower shorter run as I do with a shorter faster run, or a longer run. A run..is a run.. is a run. Plain and simple.
Q: How do you feel about the constant need for improvement?
52 thoughts on “Back to the Beginning”
Alex @ therunwithin
I am having trouble containing my laughter over the relationships are like farts – more so because it is so damn true (on both fronts). always love hearing about how running has evolved for people
Change of Pace
Those cupcakes look dreamy!
Great message. It’s easy to compare ourselves to so many things: our faster selves, our peak performance selves where distance wasn’t tough, other bloggers, anyone!
I say run one mile at a slow pace if that’s what you want to do on any given day! My limit is 7km (under 5miles). If I run less than that I feel bad but I have no idea why. I need to get over that!
di @ life of di.
1) Love that ECard – hahaha.
2) I know that I am more of a newbie runner than you; however, I have definitely noticed how running can change from time to time. I’m still not at the point where I want to become a faster runner but I am working on my mileage. I actually didn’t run at all between September and November when I was focusing on spin class but now that’s the only cardio I’m doing.
3) I enjoyed reading about how your relationship with running has evolved throughout the years 🙂
kathy@vodka and soda
i want bigger muscles. there’s nothing i want more than guns. i lift, then i do something stupid like not cool down, screw up my back and neck and have to postpone all workouts because i can’t move. like what happened this past weekend.
but the way i see it, there’s always time. we always want more – faster, heavier, stronger – but there are times that for some reason, it just burns us out. we can’t. we get busy. we just don’t want to! but as long as you do what you want and when you want to, then that’s what counts most. when you want to run faster, you will. and when i learn to stop being a moron and do a proper cool down to not ruin my back, i will!
Very well put! I’m all about bigger guns, too, and I also hate cooling down/stretching!
Kristina at damntenpounds
5 miles is my threshold too. Anything under is just a nuisance I can’t be bothered with. It’s a great goal to make every run matter. Once you reach that level of appreciation, please share with the rest of us 🙂
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the constant need for improvement, unless it’s accompanied by an inability to appreciate where one is at any given time. I’m not a natural born runner either, and at this point anything over 3 miles feels like a death sentence to me. It’s nothing that hard work and dedication can’t fix… if you really want it. I don’t want it bad enough to run on a treadmill at this point (stupid snow), so I find other things I love to do to keep my fitness up. I may very well start to run again in the spring, but I guess only time will tell…
Amy @ A Desert Girl
Good for you! You’re in the right mindset and that’s one of the best things you can do for yourself.
I have committed to a 5K for this year and I’m up to 1.5 miles! My pace is one cadence above walking, but I’m proud of myself for being able to go a mile and a half without stopping. And most importantly, I’m enjoying myself!
“If I enjoy the miles that’s what matters.” A perfect way to summarize this post, and, while we’re at it, life. I’m a pretty average runner, but your posts always inspire me to try new things and make new running goals — so thank you 🙂
This is a good idea! A few, enjoyable miles are way better than either no miles at all or 8 really annoying miles. Go out and find the reason you fell in love with running in the first place!
You compared yourself to a monkey, which means you are also a #vanillagorilla and we run (or work out) for the simple joy of doing so…ignore my post today. It might be all about pushing too much. Or not. Cough…cough.
You’ll get your runners groove back in no time (bad pun?) or at least so long as cupcakes and change is involved.
My running has taken a very similar turn recently and I’m honestly kind of glad I got injured a few weeks ago. Whenever it happens it forces me to take a step back and now that I’m able to run again, today I headed out for half the distance I usually run. I loved it. I think whenever I get carried away with the obsession I need to take a step back and focus on running shorter distances so that I rekindle that love again. Love this post!
Ohhhh my goodness Brittany, THANK YOU for sharing this! I’ve never been able to time my runs. I tried when I first started, but each time I finished my route and felt elated by endorphins, I quickly crashed into frustration when I glanced at my watch and found out I took an extra minute or two. It just wasn’t the way I wanted to feel after I accomplished a great workout, so I quit timing altogether.
But even closer to my heart… The distance part of your confession. I feel like I NEED/HAVE/MUST run at least 6 miles each time. Which morphed into 6.5. And then 7. Just because I knew I could do it. Even if my legs hurt and really needed a rest, I pushed myself so hard. I’m still learning that it’s okay to stop at 6… Or 5.5… Or even 5. (And then not feel a need to go out on an extra long walk later in the day to make up for it.) It’s easy to become addicted to exercise and forget that we initially started it because it made our bodies feel good, not strained and pained!
So proud of you for listening to your body and your heart!! 🙂
P.S. Was the cupcake photo taken with your new camera?? It looks really crisp! And all that chocolate… And PB too? YUM!!! 😀
I love that you run for the pure bliss of it!! THAT is what I am after now!! As for my cupcakes…that photo was actually taken with my iPhone last May!! Crazy right!? One of my favorites taken on the phone! Those cupcakes..omg..they were unreal.
Wow!! That’s amazing for an iPhone! Are they the same cupcakes in your header image? The sprinkles and chocolate swirls both look so mouthwatering! 😉 (Oh gosh, I just realized I’m eating a chocolate cupcake as I type this… Literally with crumbs falling on the keyboard. So ladylike, I know.)
Matt @ Runner Savvy
I’m not a natural born runner either! My family is far from athletic 😉
You have improved sooo much since you began… and as long as you love your runs and feel good afterwards- psh, no sense in putting pressure on trying to reach something else. I love running b/c it just makes me FEEL good and strong and sane. I haven’t raced since…. August? and that is totally okay! It is not about the race, or speed…. it is just about going out and doing it. One mile or six.
Yes! I had to start over this August, and I could only do it by running slow and remembering the fun. I also realized that I might not be a fast runner – but I can be a long one. I have a different way of measuring my progress that works for me now!
I just got back into running again 2.5 years ago. I had been off and on since high school (i’m almost 35 now…). I started running 2.5 years ago to lose weight, but the weight wasn’t coming off because then I was just hungry ALL THE TIME!!! So I started (for the first time ever!) taking classes at the gym, and the 35 pounds I needed to lose, came right off! (Along with eating better too…) Once I lost the weight, I started running again and even did my first 1/2 marathon Last May with a friend. Now I’m addicted to running again and within the last few months I’m feeling the urge to get faster and more efficient in my running. I still love my other cross-training workouts though! You are SO right – a run is a run is a run.
As always, I really appreciate the honesty you give in each post. I’m so proud of you for listening to your body, instead of your mind. Sounds crazy, but sometimes our minds are a bit further ahead than they need to be. Does that make sense? For me, I had never cared about how fast I ran until I started reading blogs. I really had no idea what the term PR was, or that people even worked hard to nail one @ a race. I was actually blown away. So yeah, the blogging community had a huge effect on my runs in the beginning. I felt like I wasn’ good enough if I didn’t run at an 8 min pace. I mean gosh forbid I allow myself to feel defeated. I’ve been sidlined from running for over a year & half, and can alrady tell you that when I’m able to run again my mindset will be much like yours.
I haven’t been running since being preggo and I’m literally starting to dream about it. I miss it so much! I’m hoping this long break (& the fact that I will have to tear myself away from a beebee to go running) will give me a new appreciation for it when I get back to it.
I do think that a lot of blogs can contribute to that constant need to ALWAYS do better (on an unhealthy level) but others (like yours!!) have been so helpful and really encourage me to keep going. 🙂
It’s like anything else, once it stops being fun then it’s time to re-group and start fresh without the pressure. I love $ and cupcakes but I don’t run (well, maybe to the kitchen or the bank) so I can have them…Oh well, such is my life! 🙂
Girl I love that ecard! I think everyone goes through this because we feel like progress is everything. Why can’t we just be okay with working out simply because it feels good?!
I KNOW RIGHT!?!?! If only!
So I’ve had to stop running…temporarily until the baby comes out.. Now I’m so scared what’s going to happen when I start up again.
Davida @The Healthy Maven
YES TO THIS. I want to be in this place but until I’m mentally there I just can’t run. I have a tendency to push harder and faster and I just get myself injured. Once I feel like I can just run to run I’ll lace up my shoes and hit the pavement again.
Welp, we are twins, but that is nothing new. I LOVE the idea of going back to the beginning – thats exactly how I feel. Up until my long run this past weekend I hated every. single. run. I was going on. Even a 5 mile run, heck a 2 mile run. I would run for 5 minutes and realized that I am just NOT into it right now.
Although we often say we go out for a run – there is always that mental game of looking at your watch, seeing how fast you are, comparing yourself to your last run, and it just isn’t FUN. Time to get that carefree running back!! Now if only it were that simple, right?
Those cupcakes.. get me every time. uhhhhh. YUM. Also I feel like this song is appropriate 🙂
… yes, I am a gangsta sometimes…
My inner thug loves your gangsta ways..can you just come live with me and we can go on short, or long runs, or no runs all the freaking time!?
Way to go girl!
Maybe even do some runs throughout the week without that little watchy thingy that tracks your mileage and time. I dare you!
Christine @ Gotta Eat Green
Running used to be painful for me. Not only did it hurt my knees but it hurt just, everything. I could barely run 1km without stopping. Fast forward a two years and I can now jump on a treadmill or hit the road and run 5km no problem. I definitely want to improve my time/distance but I am not letting it take over me or my workouts. I want to get there the healthy way (without blowing my knee) and I know it will take time.
karla @ finding my fit
Preach lady. I remember almost two years ago I ran a marathon and now I am GASPING for air after a mile. But I am trying to start running again off of feeling–zero pressure!
I can get a little obsessive over my own improvement (and needing to be the best at everything) which almost always burns me out of whatever I’m trying to do. I was starting to get that way with running until I realized going for a shorter distance still means I’m getting exercise in, and I enjoy it a lot more than if I’m trying to constantly push myself. I realized that running is one of those things that I like, but I don’t necessarily have to run half-marathons to make it fulfilling. It already works wonders for my mental and physical health just by doing 2-3 miles regularly.
Sarah @ Feeeding the Brain and Body
This post was a great reminder because I am currently doing shorter runs because I can’t enjoy myself when it is so cold out. I only should do what I can enjoy even though it is hard when I compare it to you summer milage.
Coming from someone who isn’t much of a runner, this sounds like a really good plan to me! I only run about 2-3 miles at a time anyway, but I’m all about going back to basics when it comes to working out. There is nothing worse than forcing yourself and being miserable. That’s not what its intended to be! If running is something you love, then you’ve got to nurture and cherish that relationship, even if it means holding yourself back a bit on the runs 🙂
Well said sista. I completely hear you when it comes to taking a break from running. I took like a month off after the Seattle half marathon. It has been tough to get back into running since then. My hip flexor was injured so that didn’t help either. I ran a little over 6 miles over the weekend and I was happy that I could do so, but sad that I my pace wasn’t what I was used too. My mom had to remind me that it isn’t peak season and I shouldn’t get down on myself for having a 8.20 pace and running in 40 degree temps. She was right.
An Unrefined Vegan
I suggest a Cupcake Retrospective post where you simply publish photos of all of the cupcakes that have graced your blog.
What a fabulous idea…
An Unrefined Vegan
Make it so 😉
Lauren @ ihadabiglunch
“A Run is a Run” I love that! I’m coming back from an injury so 2 miles is my limit now. That didn’t come close to counting as a run for me in the past but now I’m just focusing on staying healthy and building up slowwwwly! Now I want a cupcake
I can definitely relate. It can be tricky to find that balance and avoid getting into that runner’s slump (physical and mental!). I’ve also recently scaled back my goals in order to just get back into enjoying my runs, even if it means walking in between miles 😛
I’ve been struggling with this as well! I took way too much time off and now I’m struggling to make it to even 5k at any pace. So I forced myself to do shorter slower runs and just enjoy it. And although it took a bit I am staring to enjoy it and my pace and distance is coming back! Baby steps. I want to love my runs again, not loathe them.
The Vegan 8
Pretty girl! I love the close up! Oh man, the constant need for improvement is agonizing sometimes. I’m so incredibly hard on myself, put so much pressure on myself and beat myself up all the time. I’m getting better, but it’s a tough thing to do because I’m so passionate about everything.
Rach @ This Italian Family
Atta girl! I’m not much of a runner anymore, but I do remember how good it felt to know that I could beat my previous times. 🙂 It’s nice to be able to be confident in your running even if not every run is your fastest! 🙂
Britt I love this post. I too have fallen out with running (although for medical reasons) and I have mixed feelings about getting back. I don’t want to go fast, or run a certain distance… I think I just want to run when the time is right.
Also – this sentence made my day.
“more like a frantic monkey with an annoying tick on his rear”
cause I’m pretty sure that’s how I run – all awkward and such 🙂
I’m addicted to you. MOVE TO KANSAS ALREADY.
p.s. we have the same thoughts towards running
I love this post.
I started back at the beginning after baby #3 and I’ve been wanting to be back at my fastest pace SO BAD that it almost isn’t fun anymore. I have goals and I want to reach them but meh…work. And thinking about numbers and miles and blah blah blah. Does any of that make sense?
I did a streak over the holidays and while I wore my garmin, I didn’t log my time or even look at it most days. It was so freeing; I need to do it more often. Right after I reach those goals. Ha.
YES, this makes complete sense! Lately I have been running with my Garmin, but not looking at it until the end of my run. It’s helped!
Katy @ iFuckingLoveFitness
I somewhat have this problem with cycling. I’m not bored of it but anything under 50km to me isn’t considered a “real ride.” I KNOW that maybe 30km of all hills/mountains is a lot more challenging than 50km of flats and some small hills but still.. I love the distance!!
I also love to ride hard, even when I’m commuting to and from work on my bike and I want to be sweating and out of breath all the time but I really want to take a step back and get back into the “leisurely” rides that I use to do.
Heather @ HeatherRunsFast.com
I’m in the same place and your right, a run is a run is a run. When marathon training, I’d think a 4 mile run was useless… now, that’s my go to distance. After a month off, my easy pace has slowed and I’m OK with that, because I know I can get back to what I used to run when I want to. I’ll take a dozen of those cupcakes please. Just overnight them 😉 Glad you back on the running train!
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Melissa @ Al Forno Mementos
I feel as long as I’m running, it’s running enough. haha those cupcakes … still on my list of to do.