More of Running Less of Goals

Since running the Vienna marathon back in April 2015, and the subsequent disappointment of not achieving my goal time (3:15) I’ve been somewhat subdued in terms of my enthusiasm and hunger I had for improving my running. The few months that passed after Vienna I was suffering a bout of what I can only describe as self doubt of a different scale that I had not encountered before. Sure I’ve had plenty of ups and downs but this was something that I couldn’t shake off easily. Running was to a certain level my outlet and when that doesn’t provide the same level of satisfaction everything else became rather mundane and the net effect of which was quite bad mentally and physically.

The Northern hemisphere Spring bought a fresh perspective on things and although I didn’t have the same level of enthusiasm I still managed to get out and run a few trails now and then. Usually if I’d done a trail event I would be writing about how it all went on here but I just didn’t feel like it, partly because of work and living between Amsterdam and Coruña meant quite a few flights back and forth and my overall fatigue level I could feel was at a borderline where no matter what I did every run felt like a marathon effort. Orsi meanwhile was busy with her final stages of her dissertation and didn’t do much running either. In all fairness we both managed to go to a few local events, the write ups about these are on our combined blog #whatrunnersdo.

By June, July with extended daylight of the summer in Europe I managed to do get my enthusiasm back, This resulted doing some runs and going back to the basics of how I started, what I missed most was hills and trails.

In Amsterdam running can be so boring because everywhere you go everything is flat, coupled with the fact everything is so densely populated the only interesting routes that I usually frequent become a chore after a while. To compensate for this I would alternate the direction or do extended rounds through various neighbourhoods and try and avoid pedestrian or traffic cross roads as much as possible.

In contrast running in Coruña as I previously mentioned is similar to the Wellington waterfront and of course far more options to go off road. Most of the running events in Coruña that I had been to is all on #whatrunnersdo. This provided a bit of a balance and a welcome change but the constant travel was always a factor coupled with tiredness.

Amidst all of this Orsi and I signed up for Budapest marathon. This happened just after the Vienna marathon as this was in my mind was going to be the “comeback” marathon for me. Orsi had other reasons for choosing Budapest. As I mentioned before during August and September I did a pretty decent amount of mileage with the goal of aiming to run Budapest in 3:15 or better. Compared to my training regime that I followed diligently for Rotorua back in 2014 I took a different approach to my training. The longer 30km+ runs were replaced by shorter runs and also incorporating doubles. The longer dayight hours allowed me to accommodate two runs in a day whilst balancing work commitments plus travel betwenn Amsterdam and Coruna. In August we finally had a holiday and met up with our friends Brent and Ewa from Wellington Running Meetup and went for a week of running in the Italian mountains.

Lesson in Humilty

Before Budapest I did two long runs (distance) wise. One was a 30km run on a pretty warm day about 5 weeks out, this incidentally was also my highest mileage for 2015 at 122km in a single week. After that 30km I was full of confidence, partly because I ran the second half strongly and by the end I felt I could have gone on for another few more kilometers easily.

Two weeks after we were in Amsterdam again and went to a trail event in Masstricht. This was a 32km run and with about 800m of elevation I set myself a goal of running this in 2hrs 45, essentially treating the event as the last long run before Budapest. In hindsight I think I pushed myself a bit more than required on this event which resulted in having to take about a week off because of some aches and pains which started to shape a doubt in my mind if I’d be able to start Budapest.

Nevertheless we went to Budapest of course. We arrived in Budapest where our hearts sank a bit as the weather was quite a contrast from the nice warm late summer we were expecting. It was raining, and worst of it was the cold. That particular week all of Europe’s temperatures were at a low and Budapest was cold and wet. Over at whatrunners do you can get a full recount of what it was like leading up and the marathon itself as told by Orsi.

As I mentioned earlier I was already at a low, and the self doubt crept in, which resulted in some very bizarre things happening to my body. Maybe part of it was due to the cold, maybe it was all in my head. Whatever it was I had stomach problems, cramps and at one point I stopped and emptied all I had for breakfast on the side of the street. This by far was the worst time I’ve ever had running.

In the end I finished, in somewhat of undignified fashion. As I crossed the finish line it was a relief of a different kind. Not my best marathon, finishing in 3hrs 50mins, nevertheless I crossed the line. Looking around me I could still see others coming into finish and being completely satisfied that they finished. Then why am I not satisified, did I not finish the same distance of 42.2km, what reason have I got that I am not satisfied with?

Yeah I finished, Almost gave up... but I finished

Yeah I finished, Almost gave up… but I finished…

It took me a few days to get out of the negative head space, I started to think about why I started running in the first place. I remembered when I just wanted to run and not think about goals or achieving time goals. We can sometimes forget the simplicity of why we first wanted something and get dragged into wanting more, there is nothing wrong in that, however sometimes being objective now and then helps to overcome the battle of wanting better versus acceptance of what you can.

Thanks for reading… run free, run bold!