Lost: Running Mojo. If Found, Please Call…

…Me.

I started this post awhile ago. In fact, a couple days after I posted about my race in November. You know, over 2 months ago. I wanted to write this post like a motivated cheerleader and impart my love of running to all those that read this, complete with cartwheels and multi-person pyramids. It is the new year after all, and everyone seems to be getting into the motivated, running spirit. If I’m being completely honest, I fell into a little bit of a rut. I lost my running mojo! Initially, I had no idea how to get it back. I’d been battling a respiratory cold/illness/congestion thing. It aggravated my asthma and I started having attacks on seemingly every run I went on. Not really conducive to keeping the cheerleader spirit now, is it?

Two weeks of running without a mojo. It’s nearly impossible. Running didn’t excite me anymore. Three days went by without running and I didn’t feel like I could consider myself a runner anymore. A number of factors went into this: my stupid injury, the suddenly short days, frigid air, and the approaching end of semester with its plethora of projects and endless studying.

In my head, these were just excuses. But, valid nonetheless. I was hoping it would magically reappear. My desire to run, that is. I know all runners face this at some point, but I felt worthless and pathetic. And then I found this article and this song:

Now, I’m not saying these two things were the cure-all. But, you know that feeling when you discover a new song and you want it on repeat for days? You can’t help but sing aloud and dance around your room in your underoos? …Okay, maybe not the last part. Song addiction though. You binge on the song and it gives you a little boost every time it comes on. You smile to yourself. Your days brightens just ever so slightly. This is what happened with “Counting Stars.” It helped me to realize a couple of things:

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First, there is an ebb and flow to most things in life. Not to sound cheesy, but it’s like the ocean tide. At times, those waves ebb further and further away from the shoreline. And sometimes they come in full, crashing waves against the shoreline and encompass everything around. This was clearly an ebb of running in my life. I had to realize that it was perfectly okay. I hadn’t fallen out of love with running. I was tired, stressed and a little disappointed in my performance at the Happy Girls Run in November. (Full report here)
Too much of a good thing is a real concept. So is burn out. As is giving your body time to heal. Even more than that, I realized that I hadn’t been giving myself credit for the running I’d been doing, the accomplishments. It was time to take a step back.

The second thing was really an epiphany, if we’re being real here. I don’t run to continually accomplish goals. I run because it is now a part of my lifestyle. It is my lifestyle. I’m a runner. It’s like brushing my teeth. It is an integral part of my life. With this realization came a bit of relaxation. I don’t have to be constantly on it to consider myself a runner. Yes, goals are healthy and keep one motivated. But sometimes it’s just good to run to relax. Like I used to. Running used to be my catharsis, not something that stressed me out. I needed to revisit that cathartic running and appreciate that I don’t need to be doggedly chasing goals at all times.

I don’t know that I’ve actually found my running mojo again. What I have found though, is some form of clarity and/or sanity in my running little mind. Part of this clarity came when I had a short conversation with an older neighbor of mine, of whom I dearly adore. He looks like Santa Clause, but is a running beast. He runs 7 miles, 6 days a week in all types of weather for as many years as he can remember (30+.) He returns home to Belgium once a year to visit family and they all run a 10k race together. If I’m lucky, I’ll see him on a couple of my usual running routes. We have small chats, and he always, always has a smile on his face. The particular chat I’m referring to though, he greets me by saying, “Lighter feet, lighter feet!” in his brusque accent. I was dragging heavy that day, as I was running without mojo and it was raining. He slows down and says, “Your running has increased tenfold this year. It makes me smile to see someone out here just as crazy as myself.” I laughed and said, “thank you!” He then continued on his hustlin’ way and I on mine (not so hustlin’.) I don’t care what you say, my day was made!

So, here’s a little reflection. Here is what I need to stop and give myself credit for. In 2013, I ran three half-marathons. I ran my first marathon. I ran my fastest mile, my fastest 5k, 10k… PRs across the board. I inspired others to begin their love affair with running. I accomplished goals, fulfilled intentions. There’s something to be said in that.

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The week before beginning dental hygiene school, we took a tour of the main campus (I attend the health professions campus.) Part of the tour included walking through a labyrinth. Prior to walking through, our program director had us grab a stone out of a basket and reflect on it as we started our small journey. The above photo is the stone I drew from the basket. “Inspire.” It could not have been more perfect. This is what I aspire to do in every aspect of my life. As I traipsed around the spirals of the labyrinth, I thought of who had inspired me to get where I am now, how they’d inspired me, and what kind of attitude I needed to reflect to be able to do the same thing. The attitude? Staying positive, rolling with the ebbs and flows of the tide, enjoying the ride, but never forgetting to keep my sails directed towards my goals, intentions, and dreams.

Oh, I sound so cheesy…That’s what overthinking gets you, I suppose. I truly mean these words though! You, lovely readers, are getting the good and the bad in this post. We can’t always be cheerleaders and coaches. That amount of enthusiasm constantly isn’t real, people. What is real though, is being able to take a step back and look at things objectively. Evaluate. Give thanks.

In evaluating recently, I’ve made a decision. Due to an aforementioned leg injury over thanksgiving break, I’ve stepped down from running my 50k ultra next month. (Big, giant pouty and sad face.) It’s not that I couldn’t make it across the finish line, it’s that I want to finish strong. And, of late, I haven’t kept up my base of running enough to accomplish that. I’ve been allowing myself to heal (somewhat), so that I can choose another ultra and rock the socks off it! I’ve swapped my race entry though, and am going to run the 25k on that same weekend. I can’t throw in the towel entirely!

One thing I’d mentioned earlier with my lost running spirit was my asthma. It’s not something I’d touched on before, as I’ve always viewed it as a sign of weakness. Though, it is clearly not. I have sports-induced asthma. When I began training in 2012, I could barely run a mile without my lungs giving me grief. I used to carry an inhaler with me, and I used it before every run. I began testing myself though. I’d start my runs without Albuterol. So I learned that the more I ran, the further I could go without having an attack. The exception to that being the change of seasons. When the air started to turn crisp or suddenly warm again, my lungs would give me hell. This season though, I didn’t get a new inhaler. What a shame that proved to be. For some reason, regardless of my increased endurance, my asthma is right back to where it used to be. Inhaler needed before mile 2. And that is perfectly okay. 

I leave you with a phrase that has been floating in my brain for a few days now. Read it. Chew on it. Slowly.

We run both to lose and to find ourselves.

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40 thoughts on “Lost: Running Mojo. If Found, Please Call…

  1. Great writing! Inspiring to hear as I have already thought I lost the “running mojo” with only 4 weeks into training for my first marathon (discouraging). But I have also found that there will be a song, or something to inspire me back into it. Just gotta grit your teeth and do it, and then you’ll realize again why you love to run!

    • Grit your teeth is right! I feel like it is sometimes harder to develop mental toughness than to build up cardio endurance. Just remember to take a step back sometimes and pat yourself on the back for the accomplishments you have made. 🙂
      Happy running!

  2. I think we all lose our mojo now and then, even for stuff we really like (except for chocolate, of course). Don’t fret about dropping the 50K. You’ll get there when you’re ready. Sounds like you won’t let your asthma get in your way. Keep up the awesome work!

  3. Just refinding my (very small-scale) running mojo, and I really enjoyed reading this – and hearing the music too (love the crocodile!) I’m just staggered that you can go from not running to aiming for 50k in just over a year! Do you not realised quite how amazing that is?! 😮 Your neighbour sounds great by the way.

    May you enjoy your running this year, irrespective of how far you go. 🙂

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this post! It is so reassuring to hear how many people really resonate with these same emotions I’ve been going through.
      I don’t know that I consider aiming for a 50k amazing, but thank you! I will hopefully be conquering one in the next year or so. It’s all about perspective, and I appreciate yours 🙂
      Best of luck with your running as well, no matter how fast or how far.

      • It is indeed about perspective – but I suggest you think about just what percentage of the population even run at all, and then how many run more than 10k… 50k is pretty amazing by those standards. 🙂

  4. I think that really is an important outlook – we run marathons, but fail to realize that life itself is a marathon! There are good and bad moments, times when we are energized and others when we just want to quit. Running is like that … of the 25 years I have been a running I hit a 5 year stretch where I did the gym for a couple of years and did running in fits and starts and just couldn’t get it to come back into my life until 2 years ago!

  5. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost my running mojo more often that I’ve found it. It’s fickle, and I get fickle with it too. Every time I think of giving it up for good, I feel guilty though. So I don’t know if I’m a runner, a slacker, or what…but obsessing about it doesn’t help me in the least. Some runs kick ass, some suck, and some races get me excited, and sometimes I dread them. I guess in the end, we’re just human! Oh, and I LOVE that song! My current favorite (along with Miss Jackson from Panic at the Disco, but I rarely admit that)…

    • I’d like to think of myself as equal parts slacker and runner. I run to be lazy. Isn’t it interesting how fickle running mojo really is? The half of it is that proverbial mental game/mental toughness.
      I love that song too! I will definitely have to check out Panic at the Disco. And, you should always admit that. I love listening to Christina Aguilera, Madonna and Pet Shop Boys when I’m having a bad day. My ‘closet artist’ list is endless, and I’d gladly tell anyone who’ll listen 😛
      Happy running!

  6. Only been at it ‘running’ for two years and some days it just seems to easy yet other days I question myself over and over! Counting Stars by One Republic great motivation. Was lucky to see them live last year and play that song with the enthusiasm and excitement you would have had when you first heard the song!
    Scotty 🙂

  7. Great post. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes we get in the (false) mindset that all runners have it all together, except us. It’s good to be reminded that we all get in ruts, but I love your new perspective, and that song. It’s funny, I’d heard it before, but listening to it through your, er, ears has made me like it more.

    • So happy you enjoyed the post!
      Isn’t it ridiculous how we think we’re the only ones who don’t have it all together?
      The great thing about a running low is the follow up running high. I rediscovered my running mojo this week, and have a follow up post coming soon!
      That song…is highly addictive. I don’t know what it is about it. I’m glad my ‘ears’ allowed you to hear it differently.

  8. thanks for sharing. i liked your post. i’m not much of a runner. i got into triathlon with friends. i liked your comment about the healthy lifestyle. that hits it on the head for me. i found a whole new set of crazy triathlon friends that encourage me to re-find my mojo. usually, signing up for a lot of event keeps the motivation up, month after month. i like to have 2 big A races (triathlons) per year and then fill in running and swim or smaller tri’s between those 2 big events. cheers, joe

    • Thanks for reading, Joe. Mad props to you for doing triathlons! I’m the worst swimmer ever, and the amount of training required is a bit daunting. I’d love to know how you balance it all.
      You’re right, signing up for races does up the morale and motivation considerably. I just need to figure out how to fund all of the races I want to do!
      Keep up the great work!

  9. I saw you liked a post I did so I wanted to see if I could find your blog. I swear I’m not a cyber stalker but found your FB & twitter too!

    You made me cry. I love that song. It inspires me to run. Most days are hard for me to get out and do it. I can come up with tons of reasons not to but in spite of myself I manage to accomplish a run, walk or jog. It is nice to know that I’m not alone. On the same note though your post inspires me to keep trying. Thanks!

    • Not a cyber stalker at all! Follow me wherever you can. But bear with me on the twitter front…I’m still figuring out how to use that business.

      I made you cry?! Oh no, not my intent at all! Kudos to you for finding the motivation to get outside as often as you do. Really. That first step out the door is the hardest. Whether it’s a walk, jog, a run, or a combination of the few, it is a feat. Keep up the great work, girl! I am SO happy my spastic writing can inspire you!

  10. I’m a new runner, started last year, running every day, just a mile, then two, then 4. Now I’m doing a half-marathon in a few weeks.

    Counting Stars inspired me in all sorts of areas this year.

    Keep going.

  11. Thanks for the share, this has given me a lot to think about in my training. The bike race I would like to do in July is going to require a ridiculous amount of leg stamina. I’m eager for the race but maybe not some about about the crazy amount of squats that are coming with it…Anyway, I’ve been feeling just like you, barely making it through workouts and such…thanks…

  12. I love your quote at the end! Will be chewing on that one for awhile, and will probably re-post it! It’s true, sometimes we have to be gentle on ourselves – especially after having such a kick-ass 2013 like you did! wow!

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