I think I’m in a rut, a really long rut. I have been in a rut for so long that I’m not even sure it can be called a “rut” anymore. While I’m at it, “rut” is a weird word when used so many times in a paragraph, isn’t it?
In particular, I’m in a running rut ( < < see, weird word.)
I’m not sure when it started, but I think a couple of events were catalysts to it. The first was training for the Santa Barbara International Marathon with the intention to come in at or around four hours. I used a training program and stuck with it better than I had stuck to programs in the past, only to experience not one, but two, full-on cramps sometime in the second half of the race. I had some better performances in the next two marathons after that, training not nearly as much and using a run/walk strategy. However, that strategy failed me during my most recent marathon, which actually involved me properly training. Sadly, my frustration with that Santa Barbara performance was probably the early part of my downfall.
The second catalyst – moving out on my own. Ironically, I moved into an active community, but I was much more dedicated to my long runs when I lived in a neighborhood that wasn’t active and could get a touch sketchy. Part of this was because it took a while for me to discover the local paths, and I’m sure the second part of it had to do with the fact that I was enjoying my newfound freedom, including the freedom to sleep in, and exercise/eat on an unstructured schedule. While I’d still run, the mileage decreased – partly due to my Santa Barbara results and partly because I had a lot of races that were like forced long runs for which I had to rest/taper. I’d say that these results of these races were generally pretty good to mediocre. Then, I started doing Insanity (and other videos) and found that it seemed to get me just as fit in a fraction of the time. Summer came, and I started running even less, due to the heat that didn’t let up until around my wedding.
During the last week or so before the wedding, I (along with the other 25% of my building) was told that my job at work was being eliminated. I was told that I took the news really well – too well. I was so embarrassed that for a long time, I didn’t tell anyone about this except my soon-to-be husband, at the time. Also, I didn’t want people to pity me during a time that’s supposed to be joyful. So, that day when they sent me home early to “deal with it,” the first thing I did after people-watching at the mall was put on my gear and run. The first song that came on my iPod was “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson.
I’ve still been running several times a week, though lately, perhaps because I’m in heels all day at my new job or because I’m hiking through train stations and hills to get to and from it, my legs have been heavy and stiff a lot. Rather than keep pushing through that, I am finally giving myself permission to do other exercises, maybe even to take it easy for a bit. With all the changes over the past few months – marriage, new job/routine, future planning, etc., I have been working out just as hard from the get-go, and I think that was a mistake, when my schedule now literally comes down to minute-by-minute most of the time. Meanwhile, I’ve been eating out of stress, and my gut is paying the consequences.
I will always love running and will definitely continue to do so, as my marathon is coming up next month. The lack of “Upcoming” races on my sidebar is somewhat disturbing to me, but I’m convincing myself that I’ve just “been around” the local races and am a bit in penny-pinching mode. I’m giving myself permission to just go with the flow and stop being obsessed about “having it all,” because I can’t.
I can’t expect to have the same gusto for running that I did when I completed my first marathon at 21 years old, now that I’m 28 and have marathon #14 ahead of me.
When I found my new job, I set a goal to remain for five years. Yes, I've been in the real workforce for seven years and have held four? five? jobs. However, I can’t expect that I’m going to have some great career, no matter how much I think I “deserve” one after everything I put into my education; after all, I do want children, and I don’t think those things would be compatible for some time.
I can't keep stressing out over the fact that we can't really afford the type of home in the type of place in which we would like to live, even if this is another thing I felt like we "deserved" because we have stellar credit, saving ethic, and have put a lot into our jobs. The market is a bit cut-throat and oversaturated (ahem, with foreigners wiring cash/carrying suitcases full of it, cough), so I have to grit and bear the smell of dog urine and the noise of neighbors at my apartment complex for a bit longer.
I can’t wish for better relationships with friends and family, and while there is always more I can do, perhaps love is truly unconditional. And the ones who are meant to be by your side are the ones who are willingly, well, there.
I can’t be perfect, whatever that means. I want my fries and sleep sometimes, and maybe I don’t want to be great company all the time. I will do what I can and enjoy, knowing that sometimes, going the extra mile isn’t quite worth it.
And if that’s a rut, then well… here I am.