The Dichotomy of Running

Why is it always that the things that make us the happiest also have the ability to make us the saddest?

These past few weeks have been a perfect example of this. During my most private moments, I find myself wanting to cry over the disappointment from Philly. When I let my mind wander, it immediately goes back to moments from the race when things started to take a turn for the worse. To say I’m devastated is an understatement. I invested myself 100% in this race. I did not miss one workout. I pushed my body harder than I had before. And although I was thrilled with the journey to get to the start line, I was still looking forward to setting a huge PR. And when I didn’t even come close, I felt like a part of my world disappeared. 

There have been plenty of moments the last few weeks where I have had ZERO desire to push myself – or even run – of wanting to sleep more than usual and of eating more than I should have been. It’s gotten better as the days have gone by, but I know I’m still not over the sting of failure.

Then there are times when I tell myself to get over the race and to get over myself. I KNOW it is just a race – just one race in my life. As I’ve said before, I know I am not defined by a finish time clock.  It doesn’t make me a better mom or a better person. And I know there are much more important things in my life and to make me happy – most notably my little boys.

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I hate that running, something that has been a constant friend to me, can make me feel so great and happy day in and day out but then in a blink of an eye, kick me in the stomach and leave me breathless.

And more than anything, I hate that I let it affect me this way. I know haven’t been myself since Philly. I have fleeting moments where I feel like my old self, but there are more sad and just “blah” periods than anything else. I have very little interest to run, blog or interact with friends through text or social media.

There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to go after such big goals anymore – or maybe not even set any. It makes me wonder if I take running too seriously and if I would be better with just being a recreational runner.

But the rational side of me wants to fight and not give up on my goals. Having big dreams makes life exciting. Running is a part of me. Pushing my limits and stepping outside my comfort zone (and not just in running) is who I am and what I love to do.

I have decided that there will be another marathon. I will not walk away from my hard work the last few months. I will give it one more shot. =)

ever tried

How do you handle a race letdown? Do you find a redemption race? Do you call it a season and look to your next race? 

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I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    36 thoughts on “The Dichotomy of Running

    1. It’s actually a great and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you
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    3. Youre doing the right thing. In fact the best thing you can do right away is to get back up into it URGENTLY ie today. Bet you fond you can run the same distance quicker…could have been a million reasons ob the day, just pick yourself up and get back to it. Real courage is getting up when you feel low x
      shaun recently posted..Training For A Marathon In Easy StepsMy Profile

    4. I have no idea if I am just emotional but this post made me cry! There is just no way around it….it stinks to have something that you worked so hard for go so wrong! But at the same time it is so hard to just throw in the towel and decide you will not set those goals anymore…that’s not who you are, that’s not what you thrive on.
      I had a similar race and I went for a redemption race even though many told me it was nuts :)….in the end I say do what you need to do and just go for it. I felt like my could handle it and if I felt like it couldn’t I would have just stopped. You are an awesome person and mom and while that race may not define you and you can do all the positive self talk you want…it still hurts. Keep you head up and keep shooting for the moon! I really feel like I thrive on the challenge even if it doesn’t end how I want.
      Jen recently posted..Hello December!!!!!My Profile

    5. I’ve only ran in 2 half marathons, but my last one I had severe back pain (I have a bulged disc). I was trained and ready to run a sub-2 hour, but I was 2 min over that because of back pain from mile 6 on. I was so upset. It was hard to get over, and I’m still disappointed. But I try to remember that there was a point when my doctor told me I couldn’t run again.
      Amy @ fitnessmeetsfrosting.com recently posted..Road ID Giveaway!!!My Profile

    6. I haven’t really run enough races to have one be a huge disappointment yet but I am sure there will come the day. I do know that I have had that with training runs and although they don’t even come close to comparing to a race it can really tear you apart when it doesn’t go as you planned or hoped. Even your best friend can let you down at times but then you always come back together and get past that moment. This is just one race, one moment, and one bad patch that is fleeting and does not define you as a runner. I mean goodness you are a Triathlete! That to me is amazing and shows the drive and passion you have. Set that next race, get your time and show Philly who you are. I know you probably do but remember that your boys look up to you and they are so proud of you no matter what your time is. Show them that even in tough times you can pick yourself back up and tackle that next race head on!
      Lacy @ Running Limit-less recently posted..Is it Possible to take off an Hour from your Marathon Time in a Year? {10 tips to get you there}My Profile

    7. You have accomplished so many things this year and should be proud of all of your accomplishments. It sounds like you may be over trained based on some of the things you mentioned (sleeping and eating changes, lack of interest in socializing). I think you just need to give yourself a well deserved rest and your body a break and then you can come back even stronger for the next race whatever it may be. This may be a good time to pick some different goals, maybe run some shorter distance races for a short while or focus on swimming and/or biking for a bit. When I got injured after running my last marathon, I couldn’t run at all and was devastated. It was all I could think about, but I decided to try something new (triathlon/joined US Masters Swimming) and it opened up a whole new area for me to race in and made me a better/faster runner when I started back up with running again. Hang in there and hope you will be feeling better soon!

    8. Oh yes, I totally get it. My failed Philly attempt was difficult too… and I’m really considering taking a break from the marathon for awhile. I’m ready for some shorter races where I can train and actually run the race and feel good about the results! But I LOVE that you’re going for a do-over… best of luck, my friend!!
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..December Fall 5 and 10 Winners + link upMy Profile

    9. First, can we discuss how adorable your boys are?? They are so ridiculously cute. And I don’t think that I have much to add to what other people have already said. It’s SO HARD when you are so invested in something and I think that it’s also an indication of your passion and love for running and the sport. Of course you’re upset. That’s natural and normal. And yes you know that you are more than just any one race, etc. but it’s still hard when the emotions are so raw and on the surface. You are amazing and a huge inspiration to so many. Thinking about your and sending you lots of love!
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Friday Round-Up: Good TidingsMy Profile

    10. I’m so sorry you had a tough day. The relatively warm temps had a pretty big effect on me at Philly too and I have never, ever had such miserable cramps during a marathon. As for your lack of motivation in the weeks post-race, I hope you are giving into those desires to eat more, sleep more, and just recoup. Even if Philly didn’t turn out how you envisioned it, running a wall-hitter of a race takes a toll on the body and mind. Be good to yourself and take it easy for a little bit. Since you put so much work and prep into Philly, the fitness you built for that will all come back faster than you think. Good luck with whatever your next racing endeavor is — even if you are the type who likes to push yourself and set goals, you can still say to yourself, “I’m just going to stay loose and have fun with this one, and maybe I’ll surprise myself.” After all, it’s just running, and sometimes the massive blowups and meltdowns we all have during races are part of the fun, part of the story. At the end of the day, we GET to be out there. Isn’t it a blast? :)

    11. The finish line does not define you…not to anyone who knows you either personally or through social media, but it’s obvious that you feel it does define you. You’ve mentioned before that you don’t finish marathons just to have another under your belt. You’re after that magic number you’ve set in your sights and if you don’t reach it you give up or end up beating yourself up over it. There’s nothing wrong with being disappointed but you feel much worse than just a little disappointment. You do take running too seriously (but that’s not necessarily a bad thing). You have put so much into this training cycle and had a big goal in mind, but maybe, just maybe you pushed too hard…I mean, not in your actual training but all the pressure you put on yourself…you eat, breathe and sleep running, it may not be the healthiest thing for you. Maybe taking it easy, spending time with your husband and children (without having to sacrifice sleep or having some drinks) and regrouping is what you need mentally and physically.

    12. Welcome back <3 I think this makes a lot of sense. God, even during races or hard training runs, I wonder why I'm doing this and if maybe I shouldn't back off a little and put less pressure on myself. But that's not who we are, and it's putting that pressure on yourself that allows you to achieve such great things. Philly wasn't your day, but you are still an amazing athlete, and as you know, I fully support you going for another marathon. You would always wonder "what if" if you didn't :)

    13. Awe!! I know how you feel. I felt the same way after Chicago. I trained SO hard…never missed a workout and was not only expecting a PR but a 4:45 finish. To finish 4:57…although a 28 minute PR…DISGUSTED!!! It took me some time to even be happy about the PR because I knew I had 4:45 or BETTER in me. Glad to see you’re not giving up. The one thing that made me feel less crappy about the situation was my body failed…I didn’t. If I didn’t cramp up…I would have kept going and I believe without a doubt I would have hit my goal. I believe there same for u. Chin up… :-)
      Safari recently posted..Snap out of it!My Profile

    14. This is exactly how I felt after the CHaD Hero Half. Devistated because I’d pushed my self so hard, invested so much time, gotten up and run hard when I wanted to stay in bed. Run the times that predicted a 1:35 and then to fall so short with a 1:41 made me feel like a joke. To finish 21st instead of in the top five (or even the top ten for that matter). I felt like I was a fraud for aiming so high. But thanks to YOUR encouragement, your texts, your email I decided to try again. Honestly I wanted to call it quits, I almost told my husband we should try for number three cause I didn’t want to run again or train again. But I am SO, SO glad that I did. Even though I didn’t hit 1:35 I was so pleased with 1:39, partly because it was a little faster and got me into the 1:30’s but more because I had the courage to try again, to use my training again, to give the mental game another shot. And I walked away from that 1:39 feeling really good. So I have YOU to thank for that! Trying again is important. Often essential. xoxo
      Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..Turning Race T-Shirts into Treadmill TowelsMy Profile

    15. You have several things going on, and several lessons that are key to all runners-Professional or recreational. Firstly a race is one day out of multiple days. Just like training days some are really wonderful and some are just Meh. Running promises you nothing. Just because you trained like a maniac and did everything perfectly in training, does not mean that you get what you deserve based on training. This happens to professionals as well. It’s one reason why professionals, and elite level amateurs often just pull out of races when they aren’t going well…it’s not a matter of pride- it’s a matter of practicality- a race that is not going well is not going well and can result in injury and further set back. It’s super upsetting when training has gone well and the race doesn’t because all of our lives we are taught that if one works hard one will succeed. And in running, as in life, actually this is not always true. This year I faced the disappointment of preparing perfectly for my December Marathon, only to have a medication misadventure and adductor injury completely sideline pretty much all of my Florida race season. If I want to race (though I’m a recreational runner, as I’m not often sponsored or paid to run) this season it will have to be up north and late in the year like May/July. Here are 2 posts that I recently wrote about dealing with disappointment and running. http://30weeks.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/thanksgiving/
      http://30weeks.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/take-care-mode/

      They won’t take the sting out, and if you are not a religious person, the idea of being thankful to God for these less than ideal circumstances may not be entirely helpful.

      I think the best thing to do as you are uninjured is to find something that does catch your interest..and go for it. My coach on the other hand, a semi retired, semi pro Ironman tells me that now in his 40’s…he sets his goals lightly and holds them not too tight. As far me, I am mainful focusing on recovery.
      Holly recently posted..Training training.My Profile

    16. I have felt the same way a lot this year. To invest that much heart and soul into training and not have the outcome I envisioned, is devestating. I felt ridiculous in letting it get me so down especially when non running friends and family don’t get it. But it happens to all of us and it will get better. Thinking of you!
      Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..5 Tips to Stay Fit During The HolidaysMy Profile

    17. You know the answer to this. You know you are stronger than the results of a SINGLE race… but we all understand. We invest months and months our time, heart and souls into achieving something. The tough part is that it happens on a single day where countless things can affect the outcome. Thankfully, we are always given other opportunities. I know you will bounce back and you have to allow yourself to recover and go again.

      Try to imagine what you would tell me or someone else if the situation were reversed… then take your own advice.
      Pavement Runner recently posted..Mizuno #WaveRider17 Review: FIESTA!My Profile

    18. I’m sorry to see you’re perhaps dealing with a bit of depression, but hope that your next run will be your remedy. Good luck!!!

    19. I definitely let running get to me- but I also think its one of the reasons I continue to grow and improve because I care. Because I WANT it, and WORK for it, and despite the letdowns (we ALL have them), there are so many other victories we have.

      You are a great runner, and a race doesn’t define you. Go for it.
      Laura @losingrace recently posted..From 26.2-26.2:Training in BetweenMy Profile

    20. I really love this Michele. So relatable and honest! I am rooting for you so much this weekend!!!! And I absolutely cannot wait to see you! Would love for you to have dinner with us if you need some company!
      Steph recently posted..Rehoboth Beach Half GoalsMy Profile

    21. I know how you feel! I was working so hard towards a goal of a BQ in the spring, got a femoral stress fracture due to my own mistakes, and now I have even further to go and I Doubt i’ll make it by then but I will keep trying and keep going for it no matter what!
      Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..A Disordered ConfessionMy Profile

    22. I know how you feel. I trained really hard and expected a BIG PR at the Cleveland Marathon last spring and it didn’t happen. Granted it turned out to be a very hot second half (80s in mid may in CLE), I still felt crappy about the whole thing. Like you I was frustrated with running.

      I have that with triathlon a lot too. It’s a love/hate sometimes with both the training and racing.

      Bottom line: you gave it your best for THAT day. And THAT is what matters. One race can never define you unless you let it. Now go get that PR!
      Pam McGowan recently posted..Looking Ahead – the 2014 Season Schedule & PlanMy Profile

    23. Oh my Gosh. I feel as though i wrote this post. It feels that running has let me down more than picked me up. I too have invested to much time and energy into racing and getting faster, but when race day comes and i miss my goal, nothing hurts worse. (Well, being told to suck it up by my friends hurts pretty bad) Lately I’ve picked up cycling. Its not nearly as hard as running, but boy is it fun to ride 30-40+ miles. I’ve found a spark back and picked up training, just a little differently. Heavy weight training and long bike rides are making me so happy right now, so I’m doing more of that, and taking a small break from running.

      I hope you get out of this funk soon. I admire you so much, you have no idea. I don’t post much, but i always read your blog and gain motivation from you. You are amazing, no time on the clock changes that. <3

    24. Aww, Michele thanks for sharing your feelings. It’s hard when you put in all the work and you don’t get the results you worked so hard for. I’m proud of you for trying to move on and being honest about those “I just want to give up days.” You inspire me to keep trying! This last year has been a total let down for me in terms of running and the last couple of weeks I’ve been lifting a lot more instead of running. I finally decided to try another half marathon and see how my legs do and hope I don’t suffer another injury.
      Adriana @Laced Up With Lipstick recently posted..Athleta $50 Gift Card GiveawayMy Profile

    25. Been missing your online presence, glad to see this! I look forward to hearing about your next adventure when you’re ready, whatever that may be. :-)

    26. I am so with you Michelle. I often wonder this myself. I think it’s normal to feel this way after a disappointment. For me, the best way to deal with this kind of thing is to try again. Set another goal and go after it. It totally sucks but, these “setbacks” always end up making us stronger. I’m with Sally, running gives us way more good moments then bad…
      Phaedra @ Blisters and Black Toenails recently posted..The Last Hurrah: The Tannenbaum 10kmMy Profile

    27. Bottom line is that this is a relationship. You love running. Running is another companion in your life. And with that love comes passion. It hurts so much when things don’t go according to plan because of that deep love of the sport. But What would your life be like with out it? Running gives you WAY MORE good moments and happy feelings than it does disappointment. It’s normal to “grieve” for the loss of the “expected PR”…You trained for it and had no reason to believe you’d have a different outcome. Thank you for being so honest here. I have no doubt you’re “old self” will continue to emerge as time goes on and I think you’ll be back in the saddle training for something big soon enough. The great thing about our sport is there is ALWAYS an opportunity to run another race. There’s a reason you’re wanting to sleep more and withdraw more. Just go with it….
      sally @ sweat out the small stuff recently posted..a little more manhattan, a nice mailbox mix and meals on wheelsMy Profile

    28. Such true words! But I think you are perfectly normal with all this–you were super invested in Phila and when you didn’t get the outcome you wanted, of course you were and are upset. I think spring boarding to the next race is the right thing for you right now.

      I get mad at myself sometimes for caring so much and for having a tough time releasing running even when I know I should in order to heal properly. Running can be a cruel friend sometimes!
      misszippy1 recently posted..Five ways to improve your running this off seasonMy Profile