Following my Heart…I’m Not Done Yet.

It will be a year (how has an entire year passed?!) this weekend since I ran my last half and gave up “distance” running. The decision was incredibly difficult because distance running felt like such a big part of who I was. But, I felt pulled to do so after everything with my dad in February last year. I really thought I could be 100% happy not running long distances anymore, because I like short runs too. It turns out, I was wrong.

I’ve been all over the board when it comes to how I have felt about race training this year. In my 10k training this spring I’d be so pumped about my goals and working towards them, and then then next week I’d be questioning if I even wanted to race at all anymore. I eventually snapped out of it and found my passion again, which led me to my 10k PR!

But, one thing has been consistently creeping back into my thoughts.

I miss long runs. When I run 7 miles now, I feel like I want to keep going most days. I like shorter distances too, but it hasn’t stopped me from thinking about long runs.

I stumbled on this quote and it was like a switch flipped inside me…

I’ve been pretty open with my desire to run for health as my main reason (both mental and heart), and limiting my runs over an hour. That still is incredibly important to me.

My cardiologist told me, “If you love running marathons…do it. We’re all going to die. You should have quality of life. If you’re running marathons to increase your lifespan, you’re not doing yourself any favors.”

So, it’s with that statement I have decided to give that sub-2 half marathon another try. I don’t want to keep wondering if I can do it. I feel like I have to give it another try, or else the thought will keep occupying my mind. So, I went ahead and added those long runs to my calendar.

I have unfinished business in the half marathon distance. I was aiming really high last spring and decided to go for the sub-2 at Gazelle Girl, assuming it would be my last chance at ever racing the distance again (I ran Nashville after since I was already registered, but just for fun). I ended up with a gigantic PR (10 minutes!), but coming in at 2:04 and change. At that moment, I was thrilled and perfectly satisfied with it and didn’t feel compelled to try again. So as these feelings began to arise, I was surprised.

Here’s my plan for the rest of the year. I would have planned on not running more than 8 miles to limit the runs over an hour during 8 mile race training. Instead, I will be sticking with my 10k plan from Run Less, Run Faster. It’s pretty aggressive, and has you running up to 10 miles. This will be a good start for half training. I’ll switch over to the half plan after the 8 mile if I’m still feeling that nagging desire to keep going.

I’m thinking about going back to the Grand Rapids Marathon to try my hand at the half. This race is so special to me, as it’s the place I had my marathon redemption at. I look like I’m in misery, but I still love this picture…the fight to the finish was real, and probably why crossing the finish line has never felt so good.

Finishing with my husband made it that much more special to me! I’m hopeful it will become the place I break 2 hours in the half…and I can put those thoughts of “what if” to rest and move on with my mission of running for health! Not to say I’ll never run a half again…I just know that if I do choose to go back to distance running, I would be limiting it to one half race a year to limit the potential health risks. You won’t see me running 5 or more races a year of 13.1 miles or higher anymore.

One thing that makes me nervous is fueling for the distance. I react now when I eat sugar (of any kind — a banana will bloat me like I’m several months pregnant). I have been sticking with low sugar fruit like berries because of this. So eating dates during a long run (like I used to do) isn’t really ideal anymore…so I’ll have to see what I can handle. 🤔 I can’t handle Nuun (All kinds!) anymore either because even their cane sugar free one has dextrose, which is corn based, and I react to corn! 😔

I’m scared. I’m excited. But, I’m READY to put in a few solid weeks of half training and see what happens. But first, I’m continuing on with my “Year of the 10k!” program I’m on 😂. It’s been fun thus far, even if I find myself wanting to go farther.

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