How to run when running isn’t fun anymore

One of my fears when I subscribed for Runners World a few weeks after I started the Couch to 5K was that I would be really into it for the first couple of issues and then I would be sick of running and it would just come in my mailbox and shame me for not getting off the couch.

That didn’t end up being the case. I stuck with the couch to 5k and kept setting goals, from a 10K to a 10-miler to a half-marathon to a marathon. To more than one marathon in a month.

It’s been three years (and two renewals). Every month I devoured my whole Runners World cover to cover in less than 12 hours after it landed in my mailbox.

Until this month.

Can you see it, buried there?

Running turned into my hobby. (As did blogging about running.) But — as my husband can attest from the three 20-gallon totes of half-finished knitting projects I moved into our 800-square-foot apartment — hobbies don’t capture my attention forever.

I know I saw the success that I saw because I LOVED doing it. I read books about running. I obsessively cultivated the best running blogroll. I researched meal plans and training schedules with joy. Weight training at the gym, long runs and yoga classes were the social highlights of my week. And while every workout wasn’t easy, I always found myself looking forward to the next one.

I realize that for some of you, dear readers — maybe running, or fitness, will never be your hobby.  And on that vein, I felt like I wasn’t capable of giving good advice. Because I loved to do it and it made me happy, that was all the motivation I needed to eat well and train hard. And I loved to do it and it made me happy because with a little focused effort, I saw amazing results.

Before. March 2009

After. January 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t think I wanted to keep going with this blog because I am just finding it hard to write about being fit when it wasn’t such an important part of my life any more. And plus, I feel like a fraud. I’ve gained some weight since I moved to Bangor.

But when I was telling Tony this, he told me that wasn’t a good reason to quit, and maybe my advice is more meaningful now that the afterglow is over.

So I haven’t done a long run in a long time. It’s probably been about 2 months since I ran more than 6 miles at one time. But I have been pretty good about staying active every day.

Hours spent exercising (in any form) each week in the past 6 months. The peak is from a big hiking trip we took last weekend.

I try to go for a moderate 3-mile run every day. I pick 3 miles based on the 23 and a half hours principle.

I know that if I ran a long run one day a week, but ran fewer days, that would be better for me from a physiological training point-of-view, but I just find it really hard to motivate myself to go out for 2 hours now. I don’t have the interest or the focus to be a better running.

I can always put my running shoes on, but my heart isn’t always in it.

 

But I didn’t fall out of love with running like I felt out of love with knitting. Every morning that I get out and run by the golf course (or the river) I feel ~alive~. No matter how busy/hungover/tired/frenetic I feel when I start, I always feel grateful when I’m done. Grateful that I took the time to do it, grateful that I’m able to do it, grateful that I live in this amazing day and this amazing place when I can do it.

A shot of Tony and the pugs from a walk this summer overlooking my favorite running path. Every morning I get to see this.

Great thoughts come to me when I’m running. I often find that when I’m stuck on a problem, what I really need is the reset that a quick run can provide. And I learn better when I’m running.

And that is how fitness is not like a hobby. I see the benefits that a fitness regime has throughout my whole day, from start to end. I feel more alert, smarter, more complete, stronger, more capable, happier. I get to spend time outside. I get to spend time away from computers. I get to spend time that is focused on myself.

Fitness is like taking a brushing your teeth, making your bed, eating breakfast, packing a lunch. They’re habits that make your life better.

I’ve made the joke when people ask me what I’m training for: “I’m training for life!” The fun part of training for life is that there is only one rule: Do something, whatever it takes, to get you out of a chair for 30 minutes a day.

Something, anything, like:

  • swimming
  • yoga
  • long walks with pugs listening to podcasts
  • hiking with friends
  • bike rides
  • walking meetings
  • group exercise classes (I went to my first one at the Y tonight!)

And even though I might not feel driven to train for that 4:10 marathon any more, I am really happy to say, 3 years later, that I can still run that 5K.

Pattie Reaves

About Pattie Reaves

By day, I'm the User Experience and Audience Manager for the Bangor Daily News. By night, I'm a soon-to-be first-time mom and renegade fitness blogger at After the Couch. I live in Brewer with my husband, Tony, and our two pugs, Georgia and Scoop.