“Run less to run more.”
The look on my friend’s face when I said that was my goal for the next year was an instant classic.
I could tell he didn’t know whether to be happy for me or concerned about my mental well-being.
The conversation came up because I said I was retiring for a year from competitive ultra-marathon racing. The strain of balancing God, family, sixty-hour workweeks, writing and editing a book plus other writing seems enough. Add in forty to sixty miles per week of training runs with strength workouts in between life has just become too much after four years of maintaining this pace.
What do you do when running stops being fun?
For the first time since I took up running eight years ago, I wasn’t feeling it. Running stopped being fun and that frustrated me.
I have replaced my three to four mid-week six to fifteen mile runs with three solid four to six-mile mid-week runs. Instead of a twenty to forty mile run on Saturday followed by a ten to thirty mile run on Sunday, now I am taking one solid fifteen to thirty mile run on the weekends.
My sporadic strength training is in the process of being replaced with simple planks, sit-ups, push-ups and band exercises.
Feeling It Again
And I feel it again. Instead of feeling like I have to maintain a certain pace when I go roaming around the numerous trails in the Bighorn Mountains, I’m finding that there is something really peaceful to stand at a hard summit and just take in the views. Or maybe wade into the cool, clear waters of a mountain lake at 10,000’ and just stand there and listen to the water and the wind cool me off.
There is nothing wrong with the pace of racing six to ten ultra-marathon races per year. However, there is also nothing wrong with deciding to volunteer at aid stations and doing trail maintenance even though it is likely nobody will ever see the trees cleared from many of the trails I have “maintained” so far this summer.
Finding Peace on a Mountain Trail
I’ve found there is a certain peace in knowing that I am maintaining my fitness level, but my mental state is under repair.
It feels good to know that I will be much stronger mentally after this year break.
The resolve is to run less so I am able to run more. I know there are more hundred-mile races in my future along with my favorite distance, which is 50k.
My message for you all is very simple. Sometimes you just have to run a little bit less in order to find the peace and joy that will allow you to run a lot more.