Am I taking the easy way out?
I often wonder this about my running. By nature, I’m not a competitive person. I’m just not. I’m self-motivated, set my own goals, and generally I’m the only person I compete against. For example, I’ll tell myself before a half marathon that I hope I’ll stay under 12 minute miles, or that I’d like to finish under 2:40. But if things go awry, I’m feeling slow, and I see that 2:45 pacer pass me (like in the Unite Half 2014, ugh, or 2013 Trenton Half), I think “darn” but keep moving. I always finish. The medal still looks the same, and maybe I spend a minute or two feeling a little bit defeated if it is far off from my personal goal, but I move on quickly.
I know this is probably sacrilegious to say in the running world, but I don’t train with pace in mind. I just run. I don’t do hill repeats, I don’t do tempo runs, I just run a certain distance at whatever pace feels comfortable that day. If I feel terrible, sometimes I cut that distance and go home (not often, though – more often, I’ll just walk some). There was never a time that I wore a watch for my mid-week runs (3 to 5 miles, generally) – and I still don’t.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing this right, or if trying too hard would make this stop being enjoyable. Running, at any pace, is still hard for me. No matter how many half marathons (10+) or 5ks (so many) I’ve run, they’re never easy. I always am panting/tired at the end. Do I know that I could run harder when I train, and probably when I race? Yes. But would I stop enjoying it and see it as “work”?
This is not to be confused with commitment. I am committed – believe me, I feel guilty when I fall off the wagon completely or only run one day that week. Most weeks I aim for 3 days, when I get in a 4th I feel great about life. I am committed to running. But am I taking it too easy?
That being said, one of the other bonuses of my running life thus far has been a complete lack of injury. No pain. Sure, I’ve been sore after a good race, and my lower back aches regularly – but no real pain, nothing out of the ordinary. No lost toe nails, no turned ankles, no strained muscles. I either have extraordinarily healthy bones and muscles (No injuries through 4 years of 3 sports a year in HS, either), or I’m not really pushing it…. But the funny part is, I just don’t really care that much to push harder.
Is this running apathy, or is it me listening to my body and mind, as a true “hobby” runner? I’m not really sure, but sometimes it does make me feel a little bit like a slacker, since in life I generally hold myself to pretty high standards….
…..Buuuuuuut not enough to change my ways. I guess I’ve just come to enjoy the view from the back of the pack, bringing up the rear in races and still feeling good afterward, enjoying my medal and/or adult beverage just the same 🙂
Are you competitive? How do you set goals for yourself and your races?