I hit the edge of the driveway, slowing down and coming to a stop at the same time that I hear the familiar beep from stopping my watch. I don’t even want to look at it. I don’t want to look at the time, the pace, the minute per mile. The only thing I’m sure of is the distance. And lately, turning the watch on at all seems to have totally surrendered to the whole “if it’s not on the watch, did you even run?” nonsense. Which yes, I think is total nonsense, but sometimes you hold on to what you can.
Because sometimes, everything else that you held on to seems to not be there to hold anymore. Paces that drop and times that fall. Time goal and PBs that once actually seemed in reach and now instead are but a dream. It certainly doesn’t seem plausible to be tracking for a PB when you aren’t even close to your old times, or what you may have once called your current times.
I’ve heard of this happening. This whole ebb and flow, up and down thing with running, where for a time, there are just no good times. Running feels hard, seems like a struggle; distances come harder, paces fall shorter. And it’s not for lack of trying. Every damn day you go back out there and put one foot in front of the other, pounding through, pushing on, just like you are supposed to, just like you’ve always done.
Here’s the thing: even though you may read that it happens and be aware that it is a thing, it doesn’t help the fact that it does happens, and especially at the time when it is happening. And if you’ve been there, slogging through those runs that feel so hard and make you want to give up, you know the feeling like the one in the pit of your stomach when you fall to the ground after a hard last effort across the finish line.
Let’s do some real talk here: running ebbs and flows. As much as we would like it to be up at a high all the time, leaving us feeling at our best, running at our peak, that’s not how it works. You aren’t alone when you feel like your running is off for a while, like you have been slow these last couple of weeks, or like every day seems like a struggle and an effort.
Maybe we only ever hear the best parts, see the finish line photos, or the (hint: staged) Instagram photos where someone has just run 20 miles and looks like they didn’t even break a sweat all put together perfectly in their perfectly matching running outfit. It’s okay if that’s not what happens for you, or that’s not how you look, or how you feel. It’s okay if you finish your long run and actually melt into a pile on the couch, sweaty clothes and all, putting your feet up on the coffee table and immediately refuelling via ice cream straight out of the carton.
Likewise, it’s also okay, if some days are just really hard. Really hard like, “I want to give up, I totally suck, I think my running has gone backwards instead of forwards” hard. Really hard like you lay in bed, putting off getting up and going until the last possible second because you have stopped enjoying running as much; it seems like a task and a struggle and a demoralizing act instead of this uplifting confidence boost it once was.
Yes it’s true, maybe you need a break, or some extra rest, or to change your route or to find a new running partner, or any of the other several things that you can read about online to help you get out of a rut. Or maybe you just need to know that it happens. To me, to you, to every runner, even if they never admit to it or talk about it. Maybe you just need to accept it for the simple thing that it is: a natural part of the ebb and flow of this running thing, where sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down. Don’t change everything about your life to fix it, don’t change everything about your training, or assume you have suddenly become a terrible runner or that it will never get better again. Just let it be. Keep doing your thing, putting in the effort, getting out there and doing it anyway, and know, that with time, you’ll come back.
Need some extra motivation, some information or some tips for getting your running back on track? Let’s chat!