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I am new to this site. Is this the place to post whiney, self pity rants? Yes? Good! Here goes. I had this discussion with my DH yesterday but he isn't a runner and doesn't get it. Don't get me wrong, I love that he supports me 100% and is proud of every race or run I ever do but I think i tmight be time for some tough love (but not too tough, ok?!)<br><br>
Long story short, I have been running for almost 3 years, with 2 long breaks due to injury/illness. At the end of this month I will hit one year of running injury free (knock on wood). I have made progress, mainly with distance. I could barely run a mile and to date I have completed as much as a half. I have gotten faster but I feel stuck. I know I am never going to do a 5K in 20 mins and I am ok with that. But geesh, is a 9 min/mile on a consistant basis too much to ask?!<br><br>
Yesterday I was supposed to do a 4miler race but bailed due to weather. A friend did it anyway (it cleared up by race time, darn it!) and I went to cheer her on. It was a fast field, I would say half finished in under 30mins. But I was watching people come in. People SMASHING the time I predict I would have finished in. They were older, heavier, people running in trail shoes, all the sorts of people that you wouldn't think can run or run fast (I don't mean that to sound bad, like I am stereotyping, but you get my gist, right?!). It is just that I work hard and I am getting really discouraged. I have been training for a tri which is this weekend so my focus hasn't reallybeen on running or speed right now. But yesterday was like a defining moment. I have no desire to race anymore, at least not till I can post some respectable times. So what now?!<br><br>
I know racing and runningis an individual sport, I know it is about how I perform and if I gave 100%. But I am starting to feel like I really must NOT be giving 100% and something needs to change. I do work with a coach and he is fantastic buthe is a natural runner so I think sometimes he doesn't knoww hat it is like to be mid to back of the pack. Just trying to get some words of wisdom from you all!!
 

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I don't know, take this FWIW, from a fairly novice runner. It sounds like you're not enjoying running right now and it really looks like you're so focused upon what you think you should be, where you should be, that you aren't connected with what your present ability is and enjoying that.<br><br>
Do you get what I'm trying to get at? I think goals are good things, can be quite helpful in giving us impetus to strive on, but I also think that goals should never be so exclusive that they cause us to forget about enjoying the process of working towards the goals. I'm not going to get all Hallmark-y and say, "Relax, smell the roses and frolic with the beautiful butterflies whilst you prance through the countryside." I don't think that's what you would want or need.<br><br>
But let the goal kind of recede a bit from the forefront of your mind, maybe, and for a while try to run without too much thinking about the pace you ran at. Run for a while, but don't run for the miles, just run and feel what it's like to run. Think about how your legs are feeling while you do it, listen to how your breathing feels, check out how your shoulders are feeling, try to develop an awareness of what your body feels like in the running state.
 

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<b>Beaker</b>, I know <i>exactly</i> how you feel.<br><br>
At some point in the last couple of years, racing started feeling pointless because I was so slow that it wasn't like it mattered if I was out there or not. In 2005, I was passed in a 5 mile race by a guy that just looked so completely out of shape. However, it turns out that this guy has been running for years. So, yeah, it is possible to not look like a typical runner and still be a better runner than people that appear to be in better shape. Anyway, recall that period when I was away from the 30s thread for awhile? Well, that was around the time that I just couldn't possibly hear about people making grand improvements in their paces and race times without feeling like an incompetent slowpoke. The only thing that broke me out of my woah-is-me stage was when I started volunteering helping beginning runners; it's then when you realize that what you do is actually impressive to a whole mess of other people. Running became fun again. Trying to keep up with the some of the faster people that I was supposed to be leading was a lot of fun instead of a demoralizing activity. So, I think <b>Scratch</b> is right in that you might need to not focus on time goals and re-find the joy of running. I <i>just</i> started back to using my Garmin regularly.<br><br>
But, ya know, marathoning is one of those things that to me are more about finishing and that's why I've shifted my goals a little. I still want to get faster and I feel that I am, but it's nice to not have to worry about it all the time. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"><br><br>
And, in regards to maybe not giving enough in your races, that's something only you can really tell. I'm just now getting used to the fact that racing well means a whole lot of feeling uncomfortable. <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif">
 

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<b>Beaker</b> I think one of the perils of our genetic make up (especially in western culture) is we are conditioned from an early age to view everything as a competition between oursleves and others. and the key to that statement is <b>between us and others</b>. I will echo some of what has been said here very well. it sounds like it might be time for you take a step back and turn that competitive feel inward. I love what scratch is saying about getting back in touch with the running experience itself. my favorite runs are not races at all, not even close...they hurt.. What I love is my long runs...run any <b>east</b> pace, stop and drink water. walk if I need to, try to find a specila type of bird, say hi to a little kid playing the yard...it is all simply about me being a runner, not about winning or losing, not about who beats me and who doesn't...just about me
 

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<b>I have gotten faster but I feel stuck. I know I am never going to do a 5K in 20 mins and I am ok with that. But geesh, is a 9 min/mile on a consistant basis too much to ask?!<br><br></b>9 min miles is fast in my book. I rarely can ever eek out more than a few of them. You are improving, take that as a good sign. You HAVE gotten faster. You are working hard and showing improvement. Some people run 6 min miles right out of the box, neither you or I are one of those people. '<br><br><b>But I was watching people come in. People SMASHING the time I predict I would have finished in. They were older, heavier, people running in trail shoes, all the sorts of people that you wouldn't think can run or run fast (I don't mean that to sound bad, like I am stereotyping, but you get my gist, right?!). It is just that I work hard and I am getting really discouraged. I have been training for a tri which is this weekend so my focus hasn't reallybeen on running or speed right now. But yesterday was like a defining moment. I have no desire to race anymore, at least not till I can post some respectable times. So what now?!<br></b><br>
Well, yeah, you are stereotyping. Who are you comparing yourself to and why? My friend who is 63 years old just swept the masters (40+) division at a race last week. You never know what type of runner is in there.<br><br>
You do work hard, but working hard is not going to win you races. Genetics and backround have a lot to do with it. I work very hard in my training, i do speed work, yet i cannot seem to improve my times that much. 9 min miles is very fast imo. People tell me i must not be training that hard, but there they are the ones stereotyping. Why are you running and why are you racing? are you doing it for fun or competition. Figure out your goals and go from there. I rarely race others, but i race the course and my previous times and am always looking to improve on MY times.<br><br>
I work with a coach and she is very supportive of everything i have done and has always given me pep talks and makes me feel confident in myself and happy with my race results, even if they were not what i was expecting.
 

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Answer this - why do you run? Is it to feel better, to challenge yourself, or because you can. If you are running to win your AG at local races, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. If you are running to maintain health and vitality, to reaffirm to yourself that you are tough, to do something that only a fraction of the population is willing to do, then you have already won.
 

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<b>Beaker</b>, I know what you mean. When I first started, I too was guilty of judging people by what they looked like and how athletic or fit they <i>appeared</i> to be as they passed me in training runs or races. It was depressing and a bit disheartening, because in my mind I thought, "I should be able to beat <i>that</i> person" for whatever reason. I am ashamed that I fell into the trap of assuming I knew what someone could accomplish simply based on how they looked. I'll never make that mistake again!<br><br>
I don't have any brilliant, insightful words of wisdom for you. I do think <b>Scratch</b> made some very good points (and quite eloquently, too <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"> ). Maybe go out for a run with no destination or goal in mind. No goal distance, no goal time, no watch or Garmin, no tunes. Just go out and run for the fun of it. If you're always pressuring yourself to be better or faster, of course you're going resent your runs at some point.<br><br>
I would also try some intervals if I were you, either random as in a fartlek workout or planned on a track or treadmill. Go hard during the fast intervals with the knowledge that each one will be over in a very short time -- 30 seconds, a minute, 2 minutes, however long you decide. Appreciate how good it feels to get those long beautiful legs of yours moving!
 

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You've made a ton of progress in the short time I've known you, and you've been a huge encouragement to me, both in words and in the example you've set. On more than one occasion I've watched the progress you've made and thought, if I keep at this, I can be like that in a couple of years. That said, I have similar thoughts - I'm probably never going to win a race, but I still like that atmosphere or races and it helps me push myself a little harder than I'm capable of doing on my own. For me, the balance between being proud of what I can do and being discouraged by what I can't do shifts daily. It really is all relative. The times you're discouraged about are still DREAM times for me, but the times I'm discouraged about are still dream times for someone else. And then there's some of our dear friends that are literally running circles around all of us, but I suppose they're wishing they were like the elites, right? You've been working really hard for the tri, and it is going to show! I can't wait to read that race report! You can give up on racing if you want to, but not until after Philly, OK?
 

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Lori, you know I was sort of where you are right now a few weeks ago. You and others told me much of the same thing being said above. I stopped wearing my garmin for a week or so and felt a lot better.<br><br>
Maybe take a break from racing for a while after the Tri? Or just do the races for the social and fun aspect of it, not the pace etc. That's what I think I'm going to do. I started putting pressure on myself that the next HM had to be faster than my last (first) but now I don't care. As long as I have fun out there.
 

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I've written you a couple different responses and deleted them because I can't seem to say what I want to say very well <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">. But I still want to respond.At a basic level, the answer to this one is simple. Don't race anymore until you are happy with your training. Then consider it.<br><br>
But that feels like a punk answer. As you wrote, running *IS* an individual thing. We all come at it with varying abilities and varying time/effort/focus we can put towards training. Convincing yourself that you aren't giving 100% is tricky business. Definitely work with your coach to maximize the training you can do in the time you have. But allow yourself some "plateaus" and breathers. And beware convincing yourself that you MUST try harder or do more. That may help. That may not.<br><br>
But do not convince yourself that you are lazy or without skill. That kind of negativity is 1) hard to overcome and 2) almost certainly not true anyway.<br><br>
I stopped posting in the 30-somethings after a few people decided to pick apart what I do, report that I don't train properly, and what-if the times I post.<br><br>
That really hurt. But, screw that. I have my goals and I work hard to get closer to my goals. And my goals are MINE. That's what counts. All the critical crap I received came from people thinking about a specific goal that wasn't really mine. So it wasn't something I should have focused on and that was a mistake by me to be hurt by it.<br><br>
Create achievable goals for yourself and, slowly, you'll get towards them. If the goal seems unachievable, find a smaller, surer one. Nothing is a positive motivator like a little progress.<br><br>
And... unless and until you are trying to place in your age group... try not to compare yourself to other runners based on their raw times and what they look like. This is baaaaad mojo because it isn't enough data. You don't know how they train, or how much time they've trained, and you don't know how long they've been doing it. You also don't know if they were "the fast kid" back in school.<br><br>
I can say this because I've been guilty of it. There are a couple old dudes who beat me EVERY FREAKIN TIME. They don't look like runners. After beating myself up about it forever, I found out that one of these guys was "the fast kid" and has always been faster than everyone.<br><br>
Every weekend, I finish in the middle of the pack. I get beaten by dudes with strollers, "big" dudes and dudettes, people with dogs, and sometimes a skinny guy juggling. Guy in a pink tutu absolutely smoked me in a race last year.<br><br>
Gunhild Swanson is a 65-70 year old lady who beats me a lot. ANNNNND she runs 100 milers, which my body will not allow. She really doesn't look like a runner. She looks like grandma the music teacher.<br><br>
Amy Yanni (who posts on CR as Aamos) is 53 and wins races outright. She's a cancer survivor.<br><br>
I've learned to be <i>inspired</i> by these folks and other people that you wouldn't necessarily look at and say "runner". Some people are just fast. Many people are not. Both sets are cool.<br><br><br>
If you want to be faster, keep trying. You probably will speed up some. You may or may not speed up as much as you want... but the journey is supposed to be a positive one. Don't focus on others without much information about what got them to where they are.<br><br>
you are doing great. you are where you are... which is hella better than not knowing where you are, and hella better than if you weren't out there trying.<br><br>
BTW, don't race if you don't want to race. You really don't have to do that.
 

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Great thoughts, <b>srlopez.</b> Well said.<br><br><b>Lori -</b> At one point in my running I felt like I could <i>only</i> run 9 minute miles. I felt like no matter how I tried, I couldn't run any faster and I couldn't slow myself down for longer training runs. It was frustrating. I played around with the speed settings on the treadmill and got myself to do some speedwork there that has helped me with my turnover rate. I'm not any sort of an expert, and I'm certainly not a fast person over any sort of distance, but I have been able to find out that I can run a bit faster and slower now as needed.<br><br>
That being said, you've been doing a lot of prep training for the tri... Once you've completed that goal (can't wait to see it!) and you are ready to focus a bit more on running, I'm sure things will feel better for you. It *is* an individual thing, and you are a strong athlete. I'd say don't worry too much about this, it'll come, but I don't want to dismiss the feelings you are having. For now, focus on that tri and think about the running afterwards! Believe me, it'll feel good to have a new goal to focus on after completing the one you've been training for... <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif">
 

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Beaker:<br><br>
I relate to this completely. I think a lot of us do, across the spectrum of ability levels. The fact that so many people have said so many wise things in response demonstrates that.<br><br>
The great thing about this sport is that there's a sliver of joy in every minute you do it. Sometimes it's hard to find, but it's there. If I remember that, and let myself find it, and maybe even give it a name ... that helps. It doesn't have to be PR, or fastest training pace ever, or I beat that fit-looking hombre across the line (though that's good stuff too).<br><br>
And if you ever figure out a way to make that grindy "I ain't cuttin' it" frustration go away completely, let me know what it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I must thank you all for your responses!!!! You have given me so much to think about it. And more importanly youhave given me perspective. I have been doing my long runs lately with my GPS and have enjoyed every minute of them! So you ar right, I need to get out there and run and feel good about the fact that I CAN!<br><br>
I want to say again that I didn't mean for my comments to stereotype or be mean, just wanted to illustrate how, I don't know, maybe warped my thinking was right now. Yes, I have no idea who these fast folks are and I applaud them, I applaud every person who gets out there and has the courage to try. And I will support and encourage anyone, especially my friends who are running 12 min miles!!! Just for some reason I can't turn that support inward right now.<br><br>
So after this weekend I will rethink my plan of attack. But I thank you all for your words, for sharing your experiences and thoughts and for reminding me another reason why I do this, there is an amazing community of runners who offer support and motivation, definately something I don't want to lose. For all of you coming to Philly, I owe ya one!<img alt="surprised.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/surprised.gif">ccasion5:
 

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I don't think anyone thought you were being mean; I know I didn't.<br><br>
Running can be very frustrating sometimes. Just hopefully not all the time, or even much of the time.<br><br>
Good luck!<br><br>
PS, Hairy, pink tutu guy is a friend of merigayle's AND a 100 miler too. Clearly now I know what you look like. aha! You have less hair than that corporate picture you sometimes post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks again!! I really do appreciate your perspective, you are a racing mad man and I am in awe of what you do and how well you perform each and every time you go out there! Your perspective has given me a lot to think about!! All good stuff!
 

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Hey Beaker,<br><br>
Your running career is going to be a series of peaks, valleys and plateaus. I've been through this many times. But during these tough times, you will find out what you are made of. I think a lot of people sell short the mental aspects of running especially if you are training to race.<br><br>
Even though you run for yourself, you set your own standards of performance and what will make you happy and what will make you feel good about yourself.<br><br>
When you are in a funk like you're in now, you must learn to push through it. That doesn't mean that you push yourself into an injury or further aggrivate your frustration. It takes a very delicate mental balance where you can find things about your running to be pleased about. That you can get by on telling yourself that you are making progress. '<br><br>
When you break through the plateau and start making quick progress again, you'll feel good that you soldiered through the tough times. When I'm going through what you are going through, I imagine that this is where the people that I have the ability to compete with [other mid-packers] have given up and gone home. The time that I'm running and training when it's a real struggle is what I choose to believe will pay the biggest benefit in a race. Because of mental toughness, I refuse to give up and go home or cut a run short. My guess is that those that do, are the people that I pass in the last mile or the last few hundred yards before the line, and that's what drives me.<br><br>
When you're struggling in your training, mentally visualize what your payoff is going to be. Could be a time on the race clock, but what gets me is the thought of how I will feel when I accomplish or exceed my goal.<br><br>
These sayings are cliche, but they are so true:<br><br><i>"If it was easy, everyone would be doing it"</i><br><br>
And my favorite, because it applies to so many things in life [from the movie <i>A League of Their Own</i>]<br><br><i>"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great."</i><br><br>
Once you embrace that the harder it is, the bigger the payoff, the more you can deal with paying the price.<br><br>
Anyway, the race is just the end of the journey. Enjoy the whole experience.<br><br>
Good luck and hang in there.<br>
Tim
 

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He has won some 24 hour races, came in second in a couple 100 milers and had a sub-24 hour finish at Western States two weeks ago. He has placed in many local races and marathons and often wins age groups. he is a mad man when he runs <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"> Don't be fooled by the man in the tutu or red dress (for special races <img alt="wink.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/wink.gif"> )
 
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