In my article that ran in the Spectrum today, I wrote about the simplicity of running. I focused more on the material side of things, i.e, specialized clothing and accessories, that at times can over-complicate what is such a simple, natural thing. Now, I don’t want to get into a debate over what is/isn’t necessary when running. It is a personal choice. Whatever makes you feel the most comfortable and alive while you are out there on the roads and trails is what is necessary for you. You make the call.
That said, I wanted to write a bit more about my choice to un-complicate things, and bring running back to what I am most comfortable with, and what makes it the most natural and enjoyable for me.
To start things off, in the 2010-2011 running season, I saw a lot of improvements in my times. I went from a 3:34 marathon, down to a 2:58 without a whole lot of change in my training. My half-marathon rapidly went from a 1:34-1:20, and my 5k went from a consistent 20 minutes, down to low 18’s. I was enjoying running, but loved going fast! I loved being among the top finishers in the races, and was feeling like I was finally getting the success that I had longed for in college, but fell short of.
One thing that I was noticing, was that much of the ladies that I was competing against were either sponsored, had a training plan/coach, or both. I thought that this was what I was missing. Maybe if I got sponsored, I would run faster (um…right.) If I had a coach, or someone writing my work-out plans, I would improve and hit my times—which is probably the case, but not for everyone. I am grateful to my coach for all he helped me with. It was a good experience.
What I was forgetting was that these were two of the main reasons that I began to dislike running in college: I was running for a team; running for someone else–not me. And I was being told what to run, how fast to go, and forced to be accountable. I was putting myself back in the place that I vowed never to return to again.
I am somewhat of a natural rebel. I like to do what I want, how I want, and I don’t want to answer to anyone. Sure, I know this isn’t possible in most things in life. WHICH makes it all the more important for me to allow myself the chance to let that rebel come out in one of the few things that I am allowed to: Running.
There is something about being able to put on my favorite shirts and shorts (which, by the way, are my old college tanks and shirts I got free from nike/adidas reps when I worked at a sporting goods store). Most of these are over 10 years old. I even have an old nike tank and shorts that my mom bought me when I was in 8th grade so that I could compete in the Utah Summer Games, that I still love to wear. And, my Garmin, which is the one accessory I have, I inherited from my younger brother (who, when every time I went to visit, had it in the same place and untouched). I asked him if I could borrow it, and then when my parents asked what I wanted for my birthday, I asked them to pay him for the watch….haha, thanks, Rand. :)…Don’t worry, he got a new one, that he liked better anyway :).
I also love waking up in the morning, and letting my legs be my guide. Some days, they are so tired, that a slow jog is all I feel like doing. There are also those days where I have the absolute urge to run up steep hills, do mile repeats, go for a fast tempo run, or add a bit more mileage. I have found that my body has been my best coach, in it’s ability to tell me what I am able to accomplish that day.
After a lot of thought, I decided that it wasn’t in my best interest–or theirs- for me to run for the women’s apparel company, Oiselle. It is a wonderful company, that makes great apparel for women. When they sent out the new contract, they asked for more brand exclusivity, and after realizing that I would have to buy more of their product (even with a 50% discount, this mom of 5 couldn’t justify buying anything), I decided it was best for me to opt out, and allow someone else the chance to represent them.
I also wanted to once again represent me. As selfish as that may sound, I didn’t want to be on that starting line, thinking of the team I was representing. I wanted to be thinking about my family, my goals and my love for running.
Although my goals are still in tact, and I still LOVE running fast, I am going to resume my simple, untainted approach to running: keepin’ it simple.
You are a natural runner…I am trying to convince myself that I can reach that level but right now it is still a task! Hopefully after my marathon everything will seem less like a task and more like an enjoyable journey to maintain health and fitness.
Love this post! I’ve been thinking about switching up my training and your story is super inspiring. Finding that running space that’s instead of someone elses… I can’t wait to hear how it goes!
Thanks! I hope it works out, too. I have my goals, but I realized that the training is my favorite part, and if I turn that into a “job” like it was in college, then it just isn’t fun anymore. I’d much rather enjoy the journey 🙂