Running 2.0

trail runningYesterday I got out on the trails with some friends. It was muddy as all get out, a bit icy in patches, and glorious. It truly set the tone for my day, as I find that trail running does for me, more so than the road. I think one of the reasons why is that it is part and parcel to what I sense is a new phase of running for me, a running 2.0. I was probably already heading in that direction, but coming off injury perhaps has helped clarify where I am as a runner these days.

So, too, did a sermon my former triathlete pastor gave last week. He talked about finishing a race one time where he could hear a competitor coming up behind him. Like any self-respecting triathlete finishing a race would, he started to pick up his pace, to focus on making sure that competitor didn’t get past him. He managed to keep the other guy at bay, but afterward, recognized that his driver that day had been fear. Fear of losing a place in the results; fear of a slower time; fear of not looking as good as he might. He said that instead, he should have been racing from a place of peace.

This resonated with me. I don’t want to be running from a place of fear. It’s not that being competitive is a bad thing–it’s not at all. And it doesn’t mean I don’t have a competitor inside me anymore. It’s just that I want my running to be healthy, peaceful, and joyful.

I think this is fairly common among some of us middle-aged veterans. Another friend of mine, who is a beast of a runner and triathlete, recently took up ultras. She told me that the more relaxed pace of trail running and racing is a breath of fresh air for her. Beating herself up on the road for the sake of improved times has gotten a bit old after so many years. Long-time runner Harold of A Runnah’s Story recently sang a similar tune.

It’s not that any of us are headed toward a rocking chair, it’s just that as we get a bit older, we recognize that maybe a mellower place with our running is the right answer. I think I am finally at a place where, if I never set another PR, I’d be ok. I’d be at peace. Ten, five, even one year ago I wouldn’t have said that, but for everything in life there is a season, and maybe my competitive season is mostly behind me.

Call me crazy? Do you think you’ll ever reach this stage? 


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  1. says

    That totally resonates with me as well – I have been a runner for 25 years now, since a year out of college, but it is only over the last couple of years I have really worked at being a ‘runner’ in terms of distance and pace.

    I have seen countless friends sidelined with injuries, and while I am not going to stop pushing myself, it has brought me the perspective that for me the ability to get out and run tomorrow, next month and 10 years from now is much more important than hitting any new pacing target or whatever.

    For me it is about the joy of running … sure I will still try to kick as hard as possible at the end of every race, but that is about me finishing strong rather than beating others. But then, I am not really all that competitive. :)
    Michael Anderson recently posted..Spill It Sunday – ‘Fat’ Edition and Weekly Running RecapMy Profile

  2. says

    I was doing the MELT MELT MELT dance over the weekend, urging the snow to melt more so I can get out on the trails. I could right now but I’d still need snowshoes!

    Even though I haven’t been a runner for that many years, I get this. Running races is great to push my limits and for competition but really and truly all I want to do is run. If it’s 5 miles or 50, fast or slow, I just want to run.
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  3. says

    I think it makes perfect sense. I can absolutely see myself reaching that same stage. How long can you go on caring about PR’s? When it comes down to it, I love running more then competition so I’m sure there will be a time when the simple act of running will take precedence over pace. Thanks for sharing this. I love it.
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  4. says

    I took up running two summers ago, so it’s still all pretty new to me. I have seen a lot of improvement with my times, so that makes me want to continue to chase faster times! Most of my races have been PRs, but I know that that won’t last forever. I still love running for the sale of running, and the competitive side is only part of the fun for me.
    Jojo @ RunFastEatLots recently posted..Training Log 3/9 and a 5K Whole Foods Fun RunMy Profile

  5. says

    I know what you mean, sometimes you can get burned out by racing (mainly road races. Running trail races can be refreshing and healing (mentally). but that doesn’t mean that we might get the urge to race again. Maybe trail running is like the off season. You have fun and enjoy running and after a little while you get the racing itch again.
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  6. says

    Injuries always teach us a lot about who we are, and what struggles internally we are going through as well as the physical manifestations. You have learned so much through this one, and I think you will surprise yourself with how well you do with all this wisdom. It is so great you recognize that you do not want to be running from fear all the time.

    I still struggle with this rather a lot, even when I am winning a race, I sometimes look back, and when I run a great time, I look to see what others have done, and often make myself feel inferior….even though the times I run are what most people would kill for. This was a great reminder post for me too, especially with races coming up soon! Thanks again! You are an inspiration!
    Tina Muir recently posted..Training Update 3/2-3/8My Profile

  7. says

    I love this idea honestly. I want to run for the joy of it. Not for constant PRs, constantly pushing pushing pushing. I know this is why I don’t really enjoy racing b/c I race I don’t let myself enjoy the moment. I came into running so late and I’m at a point where I am actually fast enough to place in my AG. So I keep reaching for that and pushing myself.
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  8. says

    I think I have written similar words over the past year myself! While I am a “new” runner in terms of only having begun a couple years ago, I’m also now 40. There are days I want to really push myself, but then I have moments when I recognize I’m older and don’t necessarily need to beat up my body. I’ve found for me personally, I enjoy myself much more on runs when I don’t put pressure on myself and that to me is worth more than having feelings of constant stress. I want to run well into my 70s, yet I want to be happy. I want to look forward to each day’s run, not dread a horrific workout in store. If that all makes sense :) I’m thinking of trying a trail race next year, to be out in nature more and to enjoy a more easy-going race where the goal is more about the journey rather than the end result.
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  9. says

    As I move towards Ultras myself I can totally relate…. I am so looking forward to my first 50 miler this May and maybe my first 100 Miler next year…. I don’t look at it as heading to a rocking chair at all, quite the opposite. Running that long is not easy by any means, regardless of the speed. Just another chapter. I’m still racing marathons but definitely looking forward to the ultras. Excited about something new.
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  10. says

    I literally had similar thoughts yesterday during the race. I knew by mile 18 or so that PR’ing was out of reach and I was okay with this. I was at peace with how I was running given the conditions of the day. First time I have ever have that happen.
    Really love this post!!!
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  11. says

    Your trail run sounds marvelous, and I love your Running 2.0! I think your 2.0 is the way to go- running should be about joy and peace, not stress and PRs. (Easier said than done.)
    Honestly, at the ripe age of 30, I think I’m getting close to that. At least this summer! I still have 0 races planned and hope to just enjoy the trails and weekend getaways without worrying about missing a training run, etc.
    Abby recently posted..Keeping fit on our California adventureMy Profile

  12. says

    Doesn’t sound crazy to me in the least! Since I came to running at a more advanced age 😉 I still have a couple of milestones I’d like to see if I can reach. But I know running for the sheer joy and peace of the run vs chasing a PR will be on the horizon for me soon.
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Training Check-inMy Profile

  13. says

    I was JUST writing an article for work on this the other day – it’s actually called regulatory focus and it sounds like you’re shifting from prevention based focus (fear of a negative consequence – losing, defeating pride, etc.) to a promotion based focus (the drive to get something or simply attain a goal). Interesting stuff!
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  14. says

    Ha. I reached that stage when I came off my foot injury and thus hit the trails last year. Interesting that it hit me just around your current age. :) Enjoy the dirt, it’s a blast (if you can stay vertical…. )
    Jill recently posted..What’s Cookin’, 2014My Profile

  15. says

    I think I have also reached that point. It isnt now for me about BQ’ing or personal bests, it is about feeling good, strong and confident. Whether that is from fast pace, or better, from a general confidence, that..hey, I can nail this run, I strive for that rather than the I want to win! I want to post a good number! I find myself wanitng to find that groove, not that great result.
    NY Wolve recently posted..Long time gone, and never too old to tryMy Profile

  16. says

    I arrived at this place a couple of years ago. Sometimes I’m still not totally at peace with myself because I question whether I’m ‘giving up’. The truth is I don’t care about PRs anymore. There I said it. Joy in the journey is where it’s at for me now.
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  17. says

    I think this is a natural progression. As an experienced runner you have probably reached a stage where there is not a lot more you can improve upon, and trails are a new adventure waiting to happen!
    Have no illusion though that trail running is without competition, PR’s and AG placings – I always want to pick off the runner in front of me, go back next year to beat my time, and train hard to improve my ranking. I’m just a midpacker, I’m sure it is more competitive at your end!
    That aside, on the trails you get to run some amazing places, and also tend to interact with the runners around you a lot more than on the road.
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  18. says

    Already there – it is what has allowed me to keep running the past 10 years!!! Once you make the transition and embrace the “new run” it really is wonderful!!!
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  19. says

    This really resonates with me–I just don;t have the drive or desire to go after a big pr. I have so much going on in my life that stresses me out, why do I want to have one more thing to stress over? I loved my ultra as well–I had an 11 min average pace, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more happy at a finish line. Currently, I just go out for a run, I even canceled Boston, I have found joy in running again, by not being a slave to a training schedule and prescribed times– I wrote about this as well– I haven’t been this happy about running in quite some time. Nice article Amanda!

  20. says

    Makes prefect sense to me and good on you. I sometimes still try and push myself to beat previous times but it all depends on the scenario. If I’m out for a casual run then I just soak up the scenery in the countryside, enjoy the run and the fresh air. If I am in a line up at a triathlon on race day then I tend to go for it at full tilt – but never to the point of taking the enjoyment out of it.
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  21. says

    I’m all for running my own race. One of my running friends has been competing with me on a weekly basis at speed session and is now able to easily outstrip me. Today he asked if I was okay – was I feeling ill because I couldn’t stick with him. I was more than happy to let him know that he was just too fast now. I can only go as fast as I can and I’m not going to kill myself to prove anything.
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  22. says

    I don’t know if I’m there yet. Maybe I’m trying for one last hurrah. Doing this HIIT via crossfit has brought me mile splits I haven’t see in about 5 years. I know it isn’t going to last..maybe I just want to ride the wave. But I get it. I want to run forever, and I know I’m going to have to slow down. Soon. Just not yet.
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  23. says

    Its’ funny. I have never really been a competitive runner. I just know I run to run. I’m never going to be rock star but I was like that with volleyball. After college, I didn’t want to let it go. I played every chance I got just to prove that I could.

    I don’t play near as much as I do and while I still like to play competitively, I do it with a inner peace I didn’t have before. It is a good feeling.
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  24. says

    I like to think I’m also there, yes I train hard, but alway within myself, and while I aim at times I know I can run them, so while they look good, I know if I still had that killer in me I would go faster…
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  25. says

    I swear, reading your posts I hear myself in them..except the PR bug has come back and bitten me. I’m running trails right now, and not loving them. Partly because my breathing is so off and I think it’s asthma related and I have a fear of hurting myself. I know, nuts. Glad you are enjoying it though!!
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