I join running events because I want to run.
I have been running for 11 years. I was at my most active during high school and uni. When I started working, I sort of stopped running continuously and did 'group' sports that were more accessible after work - badminton, squash, etc. Only after I saw a friend entering the local running event that I got the most bitter jealousy ever that radiated from the monitor screen to my face. I have been missing running; I always considered it to be 'my' sport and not anyone else - everybody knew me as the runner in university - that when I saw my friends with their medals I vowed to get myself involved with the whole romance of running again.
So I started. I stopped just running and did my research - I did LSDs, tempo runs, speed intervals, hills - reminiscent of my high school cross country days. I liked it alright. It served the purpose - I was running 4 times a week again and slept right and stretched endlessly.
But after a while it lost the fairytale romance.
I don't know how to explain it. Just that after a while, the need to run faster has turned my running relationship into a 'must' rather than a 'want'. I was concerned with my time, I felt shitty if I missed the target mileage, I went crazy over missed running days. For a decade, running took me away from the stress of other things, and now, running sometimes became that source of stress.
It's entirely my fault. I am a competitive by nature and the tiniest hint of competition would set me determined to win. Running does that to me naturally.
I only wrote this down because swimming has turned into something like that too. Swimming was something I enjoyed doing as both an alternative to running and also as its own workout. I could swim for hours and I always ended the workout itching to swim again. But after deciding to join the multisport scene and setting up swimming targets, I found myself dreading the workouts. It has turned into something I have to do in order to get better, instead of something I do because. I don't really enjoy my swim as much as I did before because I KNEW what I was doing wrong and my brains were telling myself to change those bad habits. I missed those days when I swam like a madman across the river and felt like a hotshot state swimmer out of it, instead of someone whose kicks weren't strong enough or whose recovery weren't great like I do these days.
I envy other people like you guys who seemed to love it continuously despite, and because of, the relentless training. I wish we were cut from the same cloth :)
I have been taking the time for these past few weeks to just get myself into the groove of working out without having any goals. I went for walks without caring what the time period and distance were, I swim continuous laps without counting, there'll be days when all the exercise I did were pilates classes. Cycling seems to be one of the sports where I have yet to feel that pressure; because I am a newbie, therefore I have no goals to achieve, nothing to compare myself to. I enjoyed all the rides I did just feeling awesome because my heart was pumping and my legs felt like torched steaks. This is good for me.
When I start my running days again, which will be in 5-6 weeks or so, I plan to do it with a reckless abandon. I'm going to leave my watch at home, and just run. I want to feel as if I'm springing across the tarred roads and flying, I want to end the run with a smile both on my face and in my heart. Most of all, I want to stop being so rigid, documenting my runs as if my life depended on it. Maybe I would be in races, maybe I won't. I'm not saying I want to stop this entirely, but like all of us are entitled to do, I just want to recharge and restart my system again and find the real reason for me to run: because I love it, and I can.