The journey. We hear a lot about it. The journey in our careers, in love, in parenthood, and in life. But how do you know when you’ve reached your destination? When do you get off the strugglebus for the last time, enjoy the sights, and say you’re done?
If you’re a runner, you get the pain it takes to get to a finish line. Whether that finish line is at the end of a 100 miler or just to the door at the end of the block, it’s hard sometimes. If you’re not a runner, it’s hard to imagine this specific challenge and what it really takes to reach it. You look at photos of happy runners out on the course or after they are done, sweaty but smiling. You think “that doesn’t look so bad.” But if social media has taught us anything, it’s that things aren’t always as they appear. You have no idea if that runner just pushed up a hard hill or if they felt like they weren’t going to make it. As runners, as in life a lot of the time, we power through and we try to look like rockstars because we want to fake it until we make it.
I’ve done too much this year. In the last two years, I’ve run six 50k trail races, each slower than the last. I ran two marathons as well, the last one almost an hour slower than the one before. I’ve run more half marathons and relays than I can count on my fingers. And I’m tired. So tired.
This journey was for fun. I was supposed to enjoy the views. And I did. I saw some of the most beautiful things and I regret none of it. I didn’t injure myself, which is saying a lot considering how much time I spent on my feet. But it’s time to get off this bus. The tour is over. It’s time to rest. Because it’s become more work than fun, and what’s the point of that?
This is how I measure the worth of the destination. It’s what I call the joy to pain ratio. Challenge is good, but there must be joy. I’ve felt happy in my pursuits over the last couple of years in these races, but not joy. If it’s more pain than joy, it’s time to rein it in.
I’m a running coach. I know what to do and how to train. People pay me for advice on the right training plan, the right clothes, the right nutrition. I ran my first marathon in 2006 and if there’s anything I know, it’s running. But I’m a horrible client. I can’t follow my own advice to save my life. I’m sure a lot of people are like this.. massage therapists who never get massages, doctors who advise clients not to drink or smoke before doing just that, therapists who can barely manage their own stress despite advising others on theirs. This isn’t a new thing.
I want to continue on many more journeys. But I need a vacation from them. My family needs me to be around for camping in the summers instead of out on the trail. They need me for family dinners, for evening tuck-ins, and binge watching bad TV shows. I haven’t been around enough for this lately and I don’t ever get that time back. I’m not being fair to my clients if I tell them to rest before doing back-to-back races. So while many people are vowing to run more, my vow is to run less. Ironically, as I’ve taken on more running, I’ve watched my weight climb up instead of down and I need to get that in check too. Too much of anything is probably not a good thing, even with the best of intentions. So I need to find that balance that’s been lacking in my life.
I’ll still be doing races. Yes, running will always fulfill many needs for me and I refuse to give that up. But there’s no reason to keep killing myself with these races that take so many hours of my life. A little could maybe go a longer way.
I’ve been hiding from many things, I think, since my father died. Probably even before that. You can’t outrun that stuff. It’s time to turn back. Wish me luck.
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