The Return of Run Love
It’s been two weeks since my most recent marathon, and still no sign of PMD (post-marathon depression). I use that phrase somewhat jokingly, but it gets at the true feeling of the comedown after a marathon effort. If you’ve completed a marathon, or any project that necessitated significant time and energy over a span of weeks or months, then you’re likely familiar with the emptiness that can follow such an achievement. Pouring yourself into something can quite literally leave you drained - mentally, physically, and emotionally. But this time around, my valley isn’t quite as low, my well of energy not quite as empty, my emotions a little more balanced. So after two weeks, I think it’s safe to say I’m in the clear. In fact, I’m excited about running again, in the purest sense. This is a major shift from the mindset I’ve had for the past two years. I set a few big PRs in 2011 and 2012 by increasing my mileage and taking my recovery time more seriously. Then, around June 2012, I took the advice of other runners and found a local coach and training group. While this decision had several positive outcomes, including meeting many runner friends and setting a tiny 29-second marathon PR in October 2012 at the Chicago Marathon, it became clear that the atmosphere and training style weren’t right for me. Even now, about eight months removed from that group, I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was that didn’t jive with me, but by December 2013 I knew I was burnt out and needed a change. In that 18-month span, I had run 3 marathons and lacked confidence in each one. I had crossed those three finish lines feeling frustrated (even the PR at Chicago!), and any post-marathon excitement I may have felt was mostly anticipation for the next race in order to find some sort of redemption. So, in April 2014, when I injured my foot two days before the Boston Marathon, ran the race anyway, and was then forced to take a break, my road to running salvation began.
It took me a long time to find a better balance in my running life, which has led to a better life balance overall. After the pre-Boston injury, I asked myself some serious questions about what I wanted to get from my running, what my goals were, and how I wanted running to fit into my life as a whole. I came to a basic and overarching conclusion that in the past I had relied on running to define me, which was detrimental when it wasn’t going well because a sense of failure bled into every area of my life. I didn’t want that anymore. I wanted to get back to a place where I relished the running community and where my own running was a part of me but not all of me. Don’t get me wrong - I still have big goals and am committed to working toward them. But I am also committed to sharing energy and enthusiasm with the running world and the people in it. Enter the Oiselle Flock. I joined this incredible group of birds in July 2014, and from the very first day, I have been amazed at the support and encouragement from women all over the country. But the best thing about being a part of Oiselle is that it has made me a better person - even more supportive and encouraging of others, with my eyes opened wide to the positive effects that running can have on life. I don’t need to run a PR at every race for the race to mean something, or for my training to be justified in some way. Every step of the journey is meaningful - the good ones, the heartbreaking ones, the exciting ones, the painful ones, even the seemingly mundane ones.
So maybe I’ve been able to fend off the post-marathon letdown because my running life isn’t just about my own running anymore. It’s about all these birds of a feather, and being a part of something bigger. It’s about run love. I’m still setting audacious goals that, if not met, might knock me off my feet momentarily, because I feel sure that this flock won’t let me hit the ground.