By Tom Madura
Hi, my name is Tom and I haven’t run in months.
Well, not quite true. I’ve run. A little.
But this is a story about what happens when you lose the drive, and how hard it is to get it back. See, I’ve been a runner for about 30 years, give or take, and I’ve had my ups and downs. But never like this.
I started running in my 20s, and now, in my 50s, my PR’s are all behind me. My 1:44 in the Clarion River Half Marathon seems like a lifetime ago. (That’s the fore-runner of the Cook’s Forest Half for you young ‘uns). But that’s OK. I don’t mind getting older and slower – as long as I can still run and enjoy it.
It’s been years since I ran with the express purpose of beating anyone or trying to continually improve my pace. I started running barefoot to reduce the stress on my knees, and started to run just for the sheer fun of it and to stay fit. I love running and I was having a ball.
But last summer something changed – a long stretch of hot, humid weather led me to take a few weeks off. “What’s a few weeks?” I thought. It’s happened before. As soon as it cools off, I’ll start puttin’ in the miles again.
Only I didn’t. “Just a couple more days”, I thought, and I’ll jump right back in. I promise.
And then I twisted my ankle while out boating. A running injury when I wasn’t even running. Just great.
So then I decided, “Well, with that ankle all swollen and sore I’d better not start running again until it feels better.”
Weeks stretched into months, and then it was almost time for the Turkey Trot – one of my favorite races, and one I have only missed once in the last ten years. I hadn’t run at all since August, and it was early November. I did a few 2-mile runs and felt pretty good so I signed up for the 5K. Afterward I felt great, but there was still a little twinge in my ankle, and it was a little swollen the next day. No big deal, I’ll just take a few more days off (this train of thought was getting way too easy!)
Next up was the Snowflake Run – another favorite. I ran it and felt great.
Then I started to find every excuse imaginable not to run. What was wrong with me? All winter it was “I’m busy tonight”. “It’s raining – maybe it’ll be nicer tomorrow.” “It’s too cold”, or “I had a long day at work – I‘m tired”, or “Boy that couch and fireplace sure look more inviting than a run in the snow.”
Problem is, there are ALWAYS long days at work, or it’s ALWAYS too hot or too cold, or too rainy, and the couch is ALWAYS there. These things never stopped me from running before. I just didn’t have the motivation. I’d lost the drive. I was in a slump. My wife bought me a running motivational calendar for Christmas – it’s hanging in my office – I read it every day.
I read Heather’s blog every day for motivation and envied her drive to train for her Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania marathon.
It was just becoming easier and easier to NOT run.
Winter turned to Spring and I was really starting to miss running.
Oh, I finally started to go for an occasional 2 or 3 mile run, but getting back into a regular running routine was turning out to be harder than I thought. I did a few after-work runs at Presque Isle, and did 3 miles on International Barefoot Running Day in May. But by then it had been almost nine months (nine months!) since I had run on a regular schedule, and time I had previously set aside for running had now been taken up with other things – yard work; staying late at work; going out with friends. My schedule was full! Was this a permanent change in my life? Was I becoming an ex-runner?
N0. Damn it. I just need to focus on this and motivate myself – it’s for my own good and nobody else is going to do it for me. And I ENJOY IT! Why is this so hard??
As they say – it’s all in the mind. Just Do It.
So last week, on a cool rainy day, after a long day at work, I told my wife that dinner would have to wait a little bit tonight, and with only a passing glance at the couch as I headed out the front door, I did my first 3 mile run in weeks. And I’ve done 3 more since.
And most important of all, I finally WANT to keep doing it again! I’m looking forward to my next run.
I’m back! And it feels great!
I’ll see you on the road.