My 6-month run challenge (week 19): being at peace with mileage

For my 6-month run challenge update for week 19, I want to talk about mileage. Because, speaking of epiphanies yesterday, I had a running epiphany on Friday as I ran the lake with my friend Steph, that has been in the back of my mind, but finally came out as we were chatting.

I’ve been struggling with keeping up with my 7 mile ‘longer’ base run the last several weeks as I transition more to outdoor running. And I think I know why (in part) I am struggling.

Because I’ve been focusing so much on the mileage and keeping it up and getting that longer run in (along with my barre n9ne classes, taken and soon-to-be-teaching regularly, 3 other runs, 1 spin and 1 yoga workout each week!) that it’s stressing me out. And more than that, I keep questioning why I am bothering with it EACH and every week if that’s the case. Why force it? Why do it ‘just’ to do it (even though I always make sure to plan that run on fresh or semi-fresh legs and not pair it with another workout, barre n9ne, for example) so I don’t risk ‘junk miles.’ And even, why do it ‘just’ because I am doing this run challenge and chronicling it all here?

What is my motivation?

My motivation, from the get-go from this challenge to myself, has been to keep up with consistent runs throughout the winter months (4/week) and sustain some distance on the dreadmill in said winter months. My secondary goal has been to work on some speed and my breathing. I’ve done each of these things. I’m still working on them, I’m still a work-in-progress, but dude, I’ve made it through almost five months of this challenge and have made it to the warmer months.

And suddenly?

Longer mileage doesn’t matter as much to me as I thought it did when I declared this challenge (in some ways, to perhaps inch towards running another half marathon) in the first place. In part because I don’t think a race is even in the cards for me. Because I just don’t ‘need’ it to prove to myself that I am a runner, that I am an athlete, or that I can do it. I honestly know that I can, if I really wanted to. My body remembers. It knows how to work. And as I write this declaration of sorts, I re-read it and see it as proof that I don’t need a race to keep running. I don’t need to hit a certain number in my runs each day or week to know I am accomplishing something. And I don’t even read this as an excuse as I may have a few months ago.

Because I am at peace…with mileage.

And whatever that mileage is each day or week, I am satisfied with it. Because I know my body worked hard. Because even if it’s a ‘meh‘ run or a fantastic run, it’s getting out there and continuing to do what I said I would do. Run to run. Run for me. Not for miles. 

For as much as I’ve waxed poetic about ‘never say never’ when it comes to races and half marathons and such…it just doesn’t interest me anymore. It isn’t a motivator. It isn’t something I feel like I am missing out on anymore. What motivates me is simply running to run. Sweating. The ‘hurts so good’ feeling after I’m done. And that huge bowl of oatmeal waiting for me aftewards.

I’m sure this post is all over the place in parts. But I feel strongly about this. Very much so. I finally feel at peace with running ‘my style’ and nobody else’s. I finally feel as though I am not comparing myself to other runners, to others’ pace or distance or whatever. I only see my road ahead. My plans for the week. Nothing else.

I’m at peace with mileage. And with running. 

This doesn’t mean I am ending my run challenge. It doesn’t even mean that I won’t increase my distance. I just don’t plan to pressure myself to fit in a longer run if it doesn’t make sense in a given day or week. I’ll run what my body wants. And be absolutely thrilled with it. Each and every time.

**I write this in part because…life is so busy. I am juggling a lot of priorities right now, and I need to stop the juggling. Focus on what matters most, not doing things ‘just because.’ This gives me the balance I always strive for, mentally, and physically, with everything else whirling around. More on that in a later post…**

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25 thoughts on “My 6-month run challenge (week 19): being at peace with mileage

  1. This challenge has been awesome for you — it’s lead you to your running “happy place,” the place where you feel good and confident and YOU as a runner. And that is the most important thing of all. Bottom line – if you’re a happy runner, you’ll be a lifelong runner, irregardless of miles, distance, pace and all that jazz.

    1. I think you are right – it is my happy place much more than it ever was before. You put this much more succinctly than I did in my post ;-) I want to be a happy life-long runner, not burn out because I was trying to be something that I am not.

    2. I totally ditto everything Jess has said! You should be darn proud of all of the work you have put in the last few months, and even more proud that you have found your a-ha moment with running. Taking the pressure off sounds like an amazing plan. I am looking forward to a summer of just this kind of running myself!

  2. YES – so happy you’re stepping back for a minute and getting a new perspective on the why. Why are you really running? If it’s just for a challenge, then that’s sort of like going back to running just to be training. Run because you love it, not because you feel that you have to do it. And you are doing a ton of other workouts my dear. That leads to exhaustion both physically and mentally. The last thing you want is to totally burn out.

    1. Exactly. Run because I love it, not because I am trying to force something that isn’t there or isn’t a priority, in the grand scheme. What drives me to run should always be me, not some number in my head. And you’re right, I don’t want to burn out. There is a lot going on workout-wise but life-wise and I run because it makes me feel good…once it starts doing the opposite, it’s no longer good!

  3. good for you! Now that I’m less than a month away from my race, I’m wondering how I’m going to balance out my runs with barre. I’m also obsessed with the milage and I love seeing the numbers creep up, but at the same time I’m still a newbie and trying to learn when I need to rest and when I can keep going.

    1. I actually LOVE this switch! You loving mileage, me notsomuch! But we both love barre, and that’s the best ;-) Hope you are fueling more for your longer runs now!!

  4. For me, when I try to make myself run a certain mileage, it always makes me feel like running becomes a chore and not something that I enjoy. For some reason, I pressure myself to maintain a level of fitness that allows me to comfortably run a certain distance, but like you just said, what’s the point if I’m not enjoying it?

    I ran 3 miles tonight and it was nice. I didn’t feel like it was only 3. I just felt like I needed to run, so I chose a street to run to and ran there and back.

    1. EXACTLY! When I am ‘making’ myself do something, it is no longer enjoyable. So what’s the point. At the end of the day, it should still be fun. When it’s not, it’s time for a reset!

    1. So true! I am at peace more than I thought with this decision and it feels freeing and exciting at the same time. Sky is still the limit, but on my terms.

  5. I keep thinking the same way its so nice to hear someone else has arrived at the same conclusion. I just run as long as I want to on each particular day. Sometimes its 4 sometimes 3 sometimes even just 2 but I do it and I feel better. My only goal is to do it. That way I don’t feel guilty or stressed. Good for you on all that you’re dong though…that is a ton of activity!

    1. My only goal is to do it – YES! Exactly. I need to just think that way anyway, because, like you said, I am doing a lot. I love to run, I love how it’s ALWAYS a challenge, but I need to realize that it’s ok not to force mileage for mileage sake.

  6. I LOVE that YOU have found YOUR happy place. That’s all that matters. Not my happy place, not some other runner’s happy place, but YOURS. Run for you, run if the only reason you run is to get that type of exercise, it doesn’t matter. By recognizing that you are happy with your style, you’re removing the stress, and that “I have to do this” feeling. My guess is that these next few weeks of your challenge will be your best yet.

  7. It wasn’t until after my marathon that I realized this bit – Run for me. Not for miles. Get back to why you love it in the first place. Nobody is putting us up to running, we love it.

    I think you’ll be surprised how far you go sometimes and how hard you push yourself on your shorter runs.

    Amazing!

    1. Wow, what a good learning for you too, huh? Nobody is putting us up to running….SO TRUE! We do it for ourselves, so why do it for any other reason!!

  8. Love this post so much. You are a runner because you run, not because of the mileage or the races or anything else. You run. And you should run because it makes you happy. But I also think it’s so great that you recognize that you do have a million bajiliion things on your plate right now and you need to prioritize and go for quality vs. quantity. I too think that the next few weeks of your challenge will rock.

    1. Thank you Christine!! I hope it does rock and it gets back to quality, not stressful runs, ya know? I am excited to see how I do :) and I do have a bajillion things going on, I need to FOCUS :)

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