Ego, shame and running

I’ve been in a running slump for nearly three years.

Through most of this time, running has been a burden rather than a joy, even though I want it to be joyful and fulfilling. Slumps happen, but three years shows me that something deep is going on and running through it just won’t cut it.

After my planned half ironman in September, I’m taking a break from running and I’m not going to run until my body tells me it wants to.

Because it doesn’t. My body sure has hell wants nothing to do with running. Swimming, biking and walking are all good.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this slump, and I’ve come to realize there’s a lot of shame in my running.

For the past seven years as I’ve been doing long-distance running, nothing has ever been enough. I’m not fast enough and training well enough. My dream of qualifying for Boston, rather than inspiring me, dragged me down.

It was more egotistical than anything. I wanted the glory. I wanted the status of being that good of a runner. Ego isn’t a good reason to run marathons; it’s not sustainable. Once I cleared that shame away, I thought about the real reasons why I want to run Boston, and they aren’t the jacket or the medal or the bragging rights. It’s the crowds, the Newton Hills and the community.

Someday, I’ll get there. Right now, I’m shelving my plan of running a fall marathon and putting down my dreams of Beantown. I don’t have enough strength to carry them anymore. My body has been telling me for a long time it needs a rest and it needs a new reason for running.

Before this year, I wouldn’t have been able to accept my identity as a runner who isn’t running or training for something. Last summer, however, I learned self-acceptance, and I’ve been on a journey toward self-acceptance since then.

Running, before I got lost in achievements, wasn’t about my ego. It was about feeling alive and strong. I can accept that I’m tough as nails and just the runner I need to be and also not be a Boston qualifier.

I’ll give myself a much-needed rest from running and then chasing achievements for as long as I need to.

I want running to look like this again.

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