Happy Thursday, everyone! Today I want to think out loud today and talk some more about finding joy in the miles you run.
I have an odd relationship with goals, in the sense that it’s not a typical relationship but I consider it a healthy one. I love to set bold and realistic goals for myself, but then once I set them, I have learned over the past few years that I like to enjoy the process, work hard and accomplish them when I do. Such a process is so much more rewarding than stressing, being ruled by fear of failure, or doubting my abilities. Such a process of achieving joy allows me to find so much more joy in my miles.
I wrote about how I’ve learned to let go of goals recently in a guest post over Runladylike. It’s not that I don’t have goals (I most certainly do) and it’s not that I do not put in the hard work to achieve them. Rather, I have come to believe that achievement of goals is never forced, never controlled by a rigorous timeline that permits little time for life to happen or for joy in the journey.
Christine over at Love Life Surf shared a wonderful sentiment recently: “find joy in this journey because frankly if there’s no joy, why journey?”
I firmly believe that running is an activity that can transform lives, fight illness, and improve mental and physical health. But in terms of months of rigorous training, hours spent in long runs, and mental and physical toll of marathons, this notion bears true. Why do it if you don’t find joy in it? Why run 70 mile weeks when you’d be much happier running 20 mile weeks?
Because here’s a little secret: unless you’re an elite, your times really don’t matter. At the end of the day, nobody but you cares if you ran a marathon this year or finished that 5K in under 25 minutes. No one is judging if your prefer shorter races over the marathon, race only a couple times per year, or aren’t a “fast” runner (which let’s be honest, unless you’re an elite there will always be someone faster than you). These are self-imposed pressures and judgments.
Don’t do it for the Instagram. Don’t do it because you feel like you should to validate yourself as a runner. Do it for you.
When running ceases to be about your own health, happiness, and self-fulfillment, then it becomes significantly harder to find joy in the miles. When you are so solely focused on the end goal, where’s the joy in the journey?
Running is a narrative that we write for ourselves. The fact of the matter is? I want my running narrative to be about grit, the great outdoors, joy in the miles, and balance with life, family, and other activities like hiking. Not a single-minded obsessive pursuit of a time on the clock, a time which thousands of other runners have run and does not make me any more or less of a runner if I achieve it. At the end of the day, finish times don’t matter unless you are an elite, especially if they cause a disordering of priorities and make life far less enjoyable and significantly more complicated than it needs to be.
Since I sprained my foot and will likely miss a total of 3-4 pivotal training weeks of building endurance and increasing my long run, it’s likely I won’t run a marathon come the end of July. Whatever. I’m on no one else’s timeline other than my own to run a marathon, and whether I run 26.2 miles this year doesn’t matter. What matters is finding joy in the miles, whether they are an easy run on my favorite trail or the grueling final miles of a race.
How do you find joy in your miles?
Do you sometimes feel as if you “should” race a certain distance or finish in a certain time?
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