Is Running Becoming too much like Work?

In the sidebar for “A Veteran Runnah” is my quick what is this blog about. I wrote these words for several reasons, but one important one was to remind me of what running and blogging are supposed to be:

Over the past month or so, I started to lose sight of this and during yesterday’s run, I realized that I wasn’t having fun on my run, in fact it was becoming a lot like work.

During this period I had also started using the MiCoach app’s training plan and did the workout assessment, to get my Blue, Green, Yellow and Red running pace zones. Believe it or not I had started running with headphones on while running, not to listen to music, but so that I could hear the “MiCoach” tell me which zone I was running in better.

I was paying so much attention to maintaining a certain pace and listening for that electronic coach to tell me what to do, that I wasn’t listening to how my body was feeling during the run. During the run I felt off a couple of times, but I had to keep up my pace and just ran right through what my body was trying to tell me. Also I wanted to snap a couple of pictures, but I had to maintain that damn pace, so I didn’t bother.

This was not cool! I was now running for a different reasons than enjoyment – and it was feeling an awful lot like work.

This is exactly how I don’t want to feel about my running.

Re-evaluate my running

When I realized this yesterday, I knew that I had to stop and look what I was doing.

1. Am I looking forward to my daily run? This is the most important about running to me – do I look forward to going on my daily run? If I am not – then I am doing something wrong, when it becomes a chore to step out that door – I need to re-evaluate why I am running.

That is what I am doing now.

2. Is it to compete in my age group at local races? No. I know that I am pretty much a middle of the pack runner, who at times has delusions of grandeur. I am training  between a 8:00 to 10:00 minute pace, which is not going to get me to be competitive in my age group any time soon. While I might dream of being faster someday, now that is really where I am. If I look at things realistically, I am what I am – a middle of the pack runner.

To be honest I am ecstatic that I can even run at the mid pack level, since last year at this time, I couldn’t run at all and been told that I would never run again.

I don’t want to screw it up and go back to being a non-runner ever again.

Of course I want to get better and am working in that direction, but now is not the time to rush improvement, I need to build a strong mileage base and that is my primary goal for now.

3. Will that step out the door lead to being able to run a certain distance/pace? Yes I would like to eventually run a marathon and qualify for Boston (dream) or run a sub 20:00 5K (not for a while), but I also know that I need to go more slowly than my competitive and ambitious side would like me to. I know that my body is not ready for these goals – yet.

For the first time in years, I am feeling good while running and my unharnessed optimism is taking over for common sense for an almost 55-year-old runner.

I just need to run smart and I will get to my goals.

4. Am I listening to my body correctly? If I let an electronic coach tell me how fast I need to be running and ignore the signals that my body is telling me, than no – I am not listening to my body. I know that I need to challenge myself to run faster and further, but at the same time I need to do it when my body is ready for it?

This is the delicate balance that I will have a hard time maintaining – but must. If I continue to listen mainly to that electronic voice saying “you can do it”, “resume green zone”, instead of listening to my body saying “I’m not ready yet”, “why am I landing on my heels now?” or even “floor it, let’s see what this old body can do”, I will run into problems.

If I listen closely to my body, I know that I will be better off in the long run.

5. Is there enough flexibility in what I am doing, so that if I am listening to my body or life happens, I can change what I am doing quickly and easily?  Pretty self-explanatory and @MissZippy1 gave a pretty good explanation of this in her post Schedules were meant to be broken.

This is the main reason that I have such a difficult time following a training plan, is that I don’t want to be a slave to a schedule of needing to do a certain pace or distance, when my body is saying I need to do something else.

I am going to take charge of my training plan again. While I might base it on the MiCoach training plan, what I actually do will be based more on how I am actually feeling that day or week and what is going on in my life.

6. Do I want or need to be coached? I have often thought about going ahead and getting a coach, who would help and challenge me to become a better runner. While at the same time moderating or putting a governor on me (which I do need sometime).

While there are a lot of great coaches out there, I haven’t been coached in so many years, I have a feeling that, it would be a difficult transition for me, being the old curmudgeon that I am and how independent I have become. 😉

There is also the cost involved (but if you want something bad enough you find a way to pay for it).

At this point of my running career, I will remain without a coach and continue to muddle along by myself. Although I know the right coach would make me a better runner.

The reality is that 

Today I am looking forward to my scheduled 5.0 mile run. However, to reach this “want to do it attitude” again I had to do a couple of things last night and this morning:

1. I have deleted the MiCoach training plan.  I like MiCoach and how it does a lot of its functions and think it is a great App for many runners. Using the MiCoach training plan and Coaching App wasn’t taking me in the direction I wanted to go with my running – I began to depend on it for too much. I even allowed it to take over how I was running and by doing that, was taking the joy out of the run and made it feel more like work.  Which is exactly where I do not want to go.

2. Slow down and temper my ambition. Just because I am feeling really great and am running further than I have in years, does not mean that I am not at risk for injury or burn-out, if I do too much too quickly.

A Reminder

I put those words in my sidebar, to not only let readers, know what “A Veteran Runnah” is about, but also to remind me, when I get off track – why I run.

After all blogging and running are supposed to fun – not just more work!

Stop and think about it

Every so often it helps to stop and take a look at your running, to see if you are still enjoying it and if you are not why and what changes you can make to bring back that sense of joy about running back into your life.

Why do you run?

  1. Is it to compete in my age group at local/regional/national races?
  2. Will that step out the door lead to being able to run a certain distance/pace?
  3. Am I listening to my body correctly?
  4. Is there enough flexibility in what I am doing, so that if I am listening to my body or life happens, I can change what I am doing quickly and easily?
  5. Do I want or need to be coached?
  6. Finally, am I looking forward to my daily run – if I am not – why?

Stop and think for a moment are you  enjoying your running or has it become something that you only have to do.

Think about your answers.


14 comments on “Is Running Becoming too much like Work?

    • I agree, when I realized what was happening, I took steps to change what I was doing. Actually today I was looking forward to my 5+ run and enjoyed it – well all of it but that last damn hill ;-).

  1. This is a great post – and something I needed to hear today! I wrote a post yesterday about the tough time I have had this week, and this post gave me more to think about. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Thank you, when running becomes a chore or something that has to be done, then it is time to re-examine what you are doing – actually when doing anything that you once loved to do. Sometimes we just need to look in the mirror and be honest with ourselves on what we want to do versus what we think we need to do. 🙂

  2. I’m glad you deleted the MiCoach app because I can tell based on what you have posted that it is probably meant for very beginners who don’t have enough knowledge to understand some basic concepts of running. I just looked it up and see that the run settings are based on RPE in the Assessment Test, which is far from any accurate way of helping people. You’d be better off picking up a free stock training plan from Runners World and using a recent race result to give you training paces from one of the online calculators. That is, when you decide what it is you want to do 🙂

    I think you hit on a lot of things that you might want to consider for yourself – what do you want to do with your training (compete, hit a total volume, distance, pace, etc)? To accomplish many of these would require different approaches. You have a lot of different goals you speak of, but without picking a direction, you’re going to generally move in a direction – whether that leads you to enjoy running or not is up to you. I think you should consider which of those things you mentioned you want to do most – because motivation to work toward something specific is what can make things fun again. And once you make that the goal, build your schedule around that goal and don’t stop till you get there!

    • Thanks – I have a pretty good idea of the direction that I am going to go, but for the next month or so, I am just going to run 25-35 miles a week at a comfortable pace, do a little hill work and really get my running base down, before I make decisions on what direction, I will go. It isn’t like I have to rush into anything and who know maybe running without any expectations or real short-term goals is what I need to just enjoy running again. 🙂

  3. Mr. H, thanks for posting this. It is weird how we come to certain things separately. Not just you and I but others…maybe a media thing?! I don’t know, but lately I’ve been reflecting on my self and my running and the reading I’m doing to support my running all centered around having fun. I am back and forth on two books, Hal Higdon’s Marathon The Ultimate Training Guide, and Runner’s World Complete Book of Running edited by Amby Burfoot. In each book there are sections on the mental aspects of running and maintaining a positive mental attitude. There is a common thread between the two books on, to paraphrase a little, if running becomes something you don’t want to do, you are likely “over training” and being a relatively noob runner, just over a year now, this seems to make some sense. When the days I go for a run and am “feeling it” and I like it huge, those are very good days. I am currently loving it, a lot. But after I finished the USAF Marathon last September, I didn’t feel that way, it was work. So, with all that said, sir, I hope that you re-engage with the “fun” aspect of it, because it would suck not seeing your posts about running! (ok, I’m a little selfish here…;))

    P.S. Watch for this cold front heading your way.

    • Both books are excellent and the authors noted running experts, who know what they are talking about. No worries about over-training here, I was just starting down a road I have been before, that is not the direction that I want to go. Luckily I recognized it before I was too far down the road and stopped turned around went back to running for the joy of running instead of making it feel like work.

      At some point in our running careers we have to make choices about what running will be for us and have to look at why we run realistically, not through rose colored glasses. I run because I want to and I enjoy many of the things associated with it, when it stops being fun, I need to stop and look at why, which I did.

      Don’t worry about me stopping running – it won’t happen, unless something really bad happens and I absolutely can’t anymore – then I have a feeling I would find a way to do a little any way ;-). Running is a part of who I am and I will run until I can’t. I just want to ensure that I enjoy and look forward to my runs and that they do not become an arduous thing that I have to do which is why I took a step back and re-evaluated what I was doing. I am glad that you enjoy my blog and hope that you continue to find what and how I write somewhat interesting 🙂

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  6. Great post. I always feel that when running feels like its a part-time job that it’s time to take a step back and think about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. A self-analysis goes a long way in making things better.

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