|From the outside looking in: a cold winter morning before the first run back.|
Since injuring myself during training for the 2010 Mohawk-Hudson Marathon and missing my goal time of 3:10:59 by 8 seconds, I have been unable to get back on a solid training schedule and eventually I even began to define myself by that failure.
Many things have changed in the period since those training days before the race. I have gone through a fairly radical diet change from when I took a break from running. For nearly a year I ate a vegan diet. Combined with my newly sedentary lifestyle, this diet caught up with me in the form of chronic fatigue and a few months ago I decided to abandon my vegan diet and returned to vegetarian eating. But, shamefully, I ate a sad and pathetic diet of pasta, pizza, chips, etc. I still had my staple rice and beans with chopped veggies, but with such consistency that I wasn't getting nearly the nutrition that I needed. My diet reached an all time low. And while I didn't become fat exactly, I certainly became soft.
Although I never gave up running entirely, I only ran very sporadically. I'd get psyched about running for a few days and go out and tackle 10 miles of hills, only to throw my running shoes in the closet for the next two weeks. Or I'd hit the track and do 45 minutes of solid interval work and then go home and eat a pizza and not run again for another 10 days. I stopped reading running blogs and obsessing over running videos on youtube. I didn't re-up for Runners World and my stable of running shoes gradually dwindled from 10 to 2 as I started throwing away unused gear around the apartment. I quit reading running books, and I didn't geek out on running gear. To sum it up: I quit dreaming about running.
I tried running longer distances with less frequency because, well, distance is fun. But that didn't work. I tried running shorter miles more frequently because consistency and discipline are inspiring, but that didn't work. I couldn't spark the fire. Where only a couple of years earlier I practically defined myself by my passion for running, I reached the point where I considered the possibility that perhaps running was just a phase that occupied a few years in my mid-20's. But I was reluctant to accept that. And then I came upon the quote "Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries", and I liked it. And I finally realized that without a goal to work towards, I have serious motivational problems. Whether time, distance, or a pattern of consistency, I thrive on hitting goals. I love challenges. I love discipline. I love extremes and exploring limits. Without these things, I sometimes fall apart. So, after a long vacation, I will return to a disciplined lifestyle of hard work, physical exertion, and honest living.