Just about two weeks ago, I committed to running naked for the rest of May - a challenge that I knew would be tough, but I wasn't expecting in the way that it's turned out to be. I'd been training since August, from starting an easy half marathon plan to jumping into full training, to taking a solid month off (and feeling super guilty) to jumping into a six-week grueling dreamer's sub-2 training plan for a half on April 28.
I'll admit that part of this burn out stems from not attaining that sub-2 goal, the one I'd blasted all over the interwebz, had talked about for weeks and had been literally dreaming about since mid-March. I'll admit that the emotion, the disappointment and frustration that spawned from that is what really got me thinking hard about what I was doing, what I was working towards and what I had worked for already.
So with that came the harsh self-realization that I was probably a little more burned out on running than I thought I was - I was almost forcing myself out the door to get in 3-4 miles, only looked forward to finishing my runs instead of starting them, and generally... didn't care. I knew something had to change and fast or really, I'd give up on it all together.
And thus: running naked. No Garmin. No iPhone. No anything that would tell me how far I was going, how fast I was going, my heartrate, my pace, any number that should have mattered previously. I wanted to run for the sake of running without worrying about the things I (sometimes pretended) to care about before.
And how's it going, you wonder?
The toughest part was the first few runs where I all I could think was I wonder how fast I'm going, how long have I been out? It's so much harder than I anticipated to break out of that training/racing mindset. I will, however, credit myself twice: both track days.
The first track day was rough at first: during my warm-up mile again, all I wanted to know what my pace was. Running 4 laps around the track was easy, but how fast? Was the second lap slower than the fourth? We did a second warm up mile, followed by some striders and a mile test - here it comes. I told Al not to tell me my 400 splits as I came through, as he was planning on for everyone else. And he didn't. And I ran as good as a I felt. I ran my fastest mile to date, at 7:29.
The second great run came with this week's track workout, too. I ran my six fastest (all of them!) 400s ever, the fastest of the day being at 88 seconds and the slowest two being at 93 seconds. Never in a million years did I think it'd be possible. Truth be told, it's not like I look at my watch while I'm doing 400s anyway, but I certainly know it's there ticking away. Mental barrier breakthrough?
I still have some ways to go. There are still a number of mornings where I don't run and by the end of the day I'm like Man, I suck, I didn't go run and actually feel guilty. Why am I feeling guilty? Running is supposed to be freedom, stress relief, anxiety and tension eraser and the cure to any bad day. I'm looking forward to continuing to find that place again. Progress for sure, but it's only been two weeks. More to come - this will probably extend well past May!
Have you ever given yourself a digital break from running and let yourself just RUN? Did you face the same mental block? How did you work past it?