Return of Fun

Running and I have had a rocky 6 months. After racing the NYC Marathon in November, I was mentally and physically wiped out. I took a few weeks off, but I don’t think I counted on needing such a long recovery period. By Thanksgiving, I had jumped back into workouts and racing and by early Spring I was feeling blah, burnt out, and un-motivated. I thought about taking a few weeks (or even months) completely off from running, but ultimately I realized that exercise and running are an important part of my routine. Instead of taking a break from running, I decided re-adjust my goals for the remainder of 2011. Instead of pushing myself to go to track workouts and run PR races, I just ran easy mileage. When the spirit moved me, I went to a track workout, but I stopped telling myself that I *had* to go. I also decided to lower my expectations for my summer and spring races.

Sure, I love competing and setting Personal Bests, but that’s not the only reason why I run. The goal for my spring and summer races (Brooklyn Half-Marathon, JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, River 2 Sea Relay) is to simply have FUN. I need to remind myself of why I get up and run every day, why this activity makes me happy.

Back in May, I saw a tweet about the Fairfield Half-Marathon and got the itch to sign-up. I knew I probably wasn’t going to race it (mid-June is not exactly PR weather for long distances), but the fact that the race ended on the beach (!) and would guarantee a long run sealed the deal. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a race “just for fun” . Usually I feel like it’s a waste of time and money to participate in an event if I’m not going to race 100% or at least make it a hard workout. But you know what? Last Sunday’s “just for fun” race was probably one of the best runs I’ve had ALL YEAR. From the 5:45am Metro North train (a.k.a. the “drunk train”) to my pre-race popsicle to the 13 miles of chatting I did with Elyssa – I had fun. This event reminded me that waking up at 5am to run 13+ sunny, Summer miles is really one of my favorite ways to spend a morning (yeah, that sounds a little crazy). Elyssa and I kept the pace relaxed and finished in 1:46:13. ~8:00 pace is a little faster than what I usually do my long runs at, but I felt controlled the whole time.

Finishing this run and feeling so positive and happy really got me excited about racing hard again. I have a few short races in the books for July and August (River 2 Sea Relay, a 5-mile team race and a 5k), but the next big “goal” race is going to be the Philadelphia Distance Run (aka Philly Rock n Roll half-marathon) on Sept 18. After months of feeling meh, I am finally (finally!) wanting to run high mileage and go to workouts again. Maybe I needed to be reminded of why I do this or maybe it’s the weather (I love summer), but in any case, the mojo seems to be creepin’ back.

Highlights of Sunday’s trip to Connecticut, included:

The Weather!! Yeah, 80 degrees and sunny isn’t ideal for half-marathon racing, but I love summer so so much. Give me sun and heat over snow anyday.

$5 plastic sunglasses = my new running sunglasses. I’m sure I could get a pair that cost 20x as much, but these worked out just fine.

The free popsicle I snagged on my way to the starting line. I’d never had a pre-race popsicle before, but it was actually kind of awesome. Hydration + 40 calories of pure sugar = good starting line fuel

Having Elyssa as my running buddy – 1 hour and 46 minutes seriously felt like 46 minutes!

Post-race, the man-friend and I headed back to the city for an easy, chill dinner. I un-corked a bottle of refreshing Rose wine and we dined on homemade ricotta (I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, so easy and delicious!) with whole wheat baguette and prosciutto. I also tossed together an arugula salad and topped that with prosciutto wrapped mango slices. Melon is usually paired with prosciutto, but the mango was a fun change! This dinner was really tasty and required no oven time – perfect for summer!

Homemade ricotta drizzled with olive oil, salt, and fresh ground black pepper with grilled bread and prosciutto.

Prosciutto wrapped mango slices.

If you’ve ever experienced a running funk, what eventually helped you get through it? Running is such a big part of my life (for both social and individual reasons) and I want to make sure I keep enjoying it for a long time.

  • Cute shades! I’ve never ran or raced in sunglasses before.
    I was in a bit of a running funk during the past few weeks because I had no races in the near-ish future, but at the same time, I don’t think I could handle racing in this crazy heat and humidity anyway. But now that I’m finally officially in NYCM training mode, I’m feeling better that I have something to focus on! I also found three races to do in October (10K, 10-miler and a half marathon) as part of the last leg of training. Thankfully summer will have died down by then!

  • Sometimes leaving your Garmin watch (or any watch) at home is an easy way to have a relaxing run. It’s so easy to get caught up in information overload, pace, HR, distance, etc. so getting back to listening to your body (which is what you know best!) can relieve some running stress instantly. Have you thought of trying some different events like a Triathlon, duathlon, muddy buddy race or trail runs? (I realize there may not be too many off road trail running DT New York but I thought I’d throw it out there 🙂 )

  • I think we need a cooler full of popsicles for River 2 Sea!  Those firecracker ones are my favorite. 🙂

  • Kristan

    I second that idea. And of course we can always keep some beer next to the popsicles.

  • You make the most adorably romantic-looking meals. I love it!

    I’m racing the Philadelphia Distance Run, too!! I’m so excited that I’ll have the knowledge that you’re there with me when you blaze through the course and I toddle along  😉  It’s my favorite race of the whole year, and it’s such a fast course. I love it. Plus, September (albeit a teeny hot) is almost perfect racing weather.

    YAY!

  • I guess since my last marathon I was feeling a little lost without a big goal in front of me and I wanted to make sure I took it easy before I started training for NYC. I think when you’ve done something for so long though, you’re bound to go through times where you don’t like it as much. I definitely went through times where I wasn’t so keen on tennis; I almost quit my sophomore year. Then, something turned it around and I had a fabulous time my junior and senior years. And, I still love it today when I get to play!

  • I’m not sure I’ve ever had a full blown funk, but when I’m not really feelin’ it some easy, slow miles or cross training usually gets me more excited about running. or just thinking of how crappy I feel when I’m injured and can’t run!

    How fun that you and Elyssa ran together – yay running buddies! Also, if I thought homemade ricotta would hold up well at the beach, I would insist you bring some!

  • RunTheLongRoad

    Glad to see you’re running the Philly Distance Run AND that you still call it the PDR.  I hate calling it the RnR Half!

  • Lovin’ the shades! Accessorizing is important- even during physical activity.

  • so glad you are out of your funk, lady! i experience yoga-funks these days where i just need a break – even a couple weeks off does me some good. then i start missing it, get back into it and vow to never leave it behind again 🙂 breaks are good for the soul, i think.

    ooooh, sarah brought some of that homemade ricotta to leslie’s potluck – delicious!

  • Jane Sagui

    i was definitely going through a funk myself these past few weeks. i just graduated high school and for the first time running is 100% my responsibility – no waking up at 6AM for cross country camp, yay! alas, i’ve kept my running up this summer because it’s what i’m used to, but it just hasn’t been as fun without my team. i started to get sick of it. HOWEVER! i got my wisdom teeth out last thursday and after an incredibly painful week (hello dry sockets!!) after reading this post though i finally went on a run today. while i stayed active during my oh so painful recovery, walking, biking, and eliptical-ing just weren’t doing it for me, and feeling healthy enough to run and actually push myself today was absolutely incredible. i planned on going a slow 3 miles to ease back into my routine, but as soon as i left my house i knew that i had to go further. i ended up beating my 5 mile PR (how this is possible, i have no clue). for the first time in my solo-running career, i was beyond ecstatic for the duration of my run. taking a few days off from running and feeling like absolute crap really made me appreciate what a gift it is. thank you SO much for posting this today megan. it came at just the right time and it truly was the perfect jumpstart to get back into my groove!

  • A fun race is definitely all you need sometimes!  I had a craptastic marathon this spring (okay…I PR’d, but I felt awful and HATED running by the end of it), so I ran my next marathon for fun.  And I had THE BEST time ever.  No PR, but it was only five minutes off my PR and I seriously had so much fun.  It reminded me why I love to run and got me back on track.

    We should do a run + froyo (or beer…I’m open…) soon!

  • It’s definitely easy to get caught up in feeling like every race must be our best, but like you I enjoy running for so many reasons that I try to step back when it’s not feeling fun and make sure I’m focused on teh right things

  • I agree, Jenny! Sometimes leaving my garmin, watch, and ipod at home and just enjoy being outside is what I need. 🙂

  • So true! Sometimes for me the best way to get out of a funk is to stop running for a few days and take some classes, do elliptical, or bike instead. I usually find that after a few days of this – I’m dying to get out for a nice hard run!
    Excited for Philly Distance Run too!!
    That Rose looks fabulous – I hear it’s “coming back in style” hmm? I seriously need to pick up a bottle for the long weekend!

  • Girlinthepink

    Taking a break from it helps me the most! Switching running up with other types of exercise helps too!

  • Corey @ runners cookie

    I know you know about all of my ups and downs with running lately, but what’s really helped me is removing the pressure and focusing purely on enjoyment and finding the fun in challenging myself when I want to, and trying to have that replace the “I have to do X today” on a daily basis. Sometimes a long break is definitely necessary, but I think you would know if that was the case. What you’re doing sounds perfect – to do some races for fun, focus on having a great summer, and run with friends.
    p.s. love the glasses on you – adorable!