Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Searching for Joy

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Not only have I found this saying to be true when it comes to comparing yourself to others, but in recent months I've come to realize that this is also true when comparing your current self to your former self.

I started being so hard on myself as I noticed my pace slowing and distances that were once easy becoming more difficult. I frequently found myself running alone during group runs because I could no longer keep up with my friends. I started having to take walk breaks during even my "easy" runs.

Running, which was once a refuge and a source of joy, became another area of my life where I just wasn't good enough.

So what am I doing about it?

Once I was finished feeling sorry for myself, I took stock of my current situation. I realized three things pretty quickly: 1.) that I needed to focus on taking baby steps instead of hurling myself straight into speed work and long runs, 2.) that I needed to stop dwelling on the past, and 3.) that I needed to, as much as is possible, eliminate external factors that make me feel bad about myself.

This all led me to make some changes to how I approach running.

As I mentioned last week, rather than getting frustrated that I can't easily run 10 miles anymore, I'm starting from square one and have committed to relearning how to run. I am currently in the midst of a couch to 5k training program. This allows me to a.) have structured runs with a set schedule and b.) have a specific and attainable goal to work towards.

I have also stopped running with a group, so that means no more early morning runs with my friends or evening visits to Fleet Feet for their weekly group fun runs. Although I miss my running buddies and the social aspect of those group runs, it is really nice being able to run my own pace. I'm not struggling to keep up with anyone or having to turn around before the rest of the group. For me, running alone has also brought back a kind of peacefulness that I didn't even realize I was missing when I run.

I have also stopped running with any sort of GPS. I leave my Garmin at home and haven't bothered with Strava in months. I have also turned off the GPS on the 5k training app that I'm currently using. I know that I am slow, and the fact that it bothers me as much as it does means that the last thing I need right now is to be reminded of my pace or distance. It was initially hard giving up my beloved Garmin, and I frequently found myself looking down at my wrist out of habit. After a while, though, I stopped worrying about pace. As it turns out, I discovered that running without thought to pace or distance can be very freeing.

So that is how I am currently approaching running. I refuse to compare myself to anyone else, including my former self. And it seems to be helping. I haven't found the joy that I have lost, yet, but I am starting to feel better.

I am still struggling. I won't lie about that. But I feel like I'm making progress. Hopefully by the end of November, I'll be able to once again run a 5k without stopping. Then I can find a new goal to word towards.

And my search for joy will continue. 

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