In a social media post I published last weekend I revealed that one of the biggest running challenges I had was fitting regular runs into my weekly schedule.
I love running, and exercise in general, especially the feeling that being fit and strong gives me. But there are many times when after a long day at work I just don’t have the energy or motivation to head to the gym. I work full-time as a journalist and writer, a job which can be pretty full on at times and I often have to work late or get into the office early. On top of this I try and put as much time and energy as I can into this blog, along with other writing projects, which, on top of not neglecting family and friends, means that I have very little spare time to spend in the gym or outdoors running and hiking.
Although I’ve started my marathon training, there have been consecutive days when I’ve not been able to get out for a run or do some cross training in the gym. I’ve been feeling tired and run down, which has not been helped by the fact that I’ve been really frustrated about being injured, so although I’ve been able to do the minimum I need on my marathon training plan, I’ve been really struggling with motivation.
In the past, if I’d missed the amount of workouts I have done in the last few weeks I would have felt incredibly guilty and been really hard on myself, telling myself that I need to work harder and be more committed to my training schedule. But over the last few years I’ve learnt to relax more about my workouts and learnt to be a lot more realistic about running.
While it’s great to be committed to achieving fitness goals, I think that over the last few years there has been too much pressure on those who run for fun to take things a bit too seriously. A bit of competition is great, but it seems that the growth of social media and logging times and distances on social sites has resulted in too many runners feeling like they have to make excuses for not running as fast as everyone else. Running just for fun and the enjoyment of being fit and active seems to have got lost amongst the desire to achieve specific times or complete impressive endurance challenges.
Not only does this put too much pressure on those of us who have to juggle our training with full-time jobs and incredibly busy lives, but it can also have a huge impact on our mental wellbeing. I’ve read so many social media posts from runners admitting they have sat in their car and burst into tears from all the pressures they’ve felt trying to train for a marathon while juggling their hectic schedules. This is not what running should be about.
This is why, as a runner who loves long distance running, I now have no problems admitting that there are times when I don’t want to run. I miss training runs and skip workouts when I’m feeling stressed and tired and that’s ok. I don’t feel guilty or make up for the training I’ve missed. Instead I accept that I’m human and it’s normal, then I get back on with my training when I feel ready and motivated again.