For a while, I felt myself getting burnt out on running and racing. Mainly racing, but running wasn't much fun either. I tried all the wrong things - I tried signing up for races that at one time or another were remotely interesting to me - that didn't work. I tried signing up with a coach to keep me accountable when my motivation waned - that also didn't work.
I am learning more about my relationship with running and what I need to keep me interested, and the answer is me. I need to stay engaged in the process, and doing the same distance over and over again is not the way. Yes, Comrades was a bucket list item early on in my ultra running, but even that couldn't get me excited. Yes, it is a big race for many ultra runners, but the more I thought about the actual details - it is a road race, after all; it is in South Africa, which sounds cool, but the more I looked into the logistics of the travel, the less interesting it became. I have never had a strong draw to vacation in S Africa, so the idea of running there wasn't doing it for me.
Long Haul looked cool - I like loop courses like that, especially if I may be going solo - just easier to crew for yourself and you are constantly seeing other runners. But constantly seeing other runners is actually what I try to avoid. I like long stretches in the woods by myself. It's easier to manage my self talk late in a race when I am not distracted by someone else.
So, I have changed my focus completely, and I'll be damned if it is not working. I have shifted into focusing on strength. For the last few months I have been faithful to my strength work and I can feel it working. I was originally just walking an hour three days a week, now I am running three days a week and walking two. I like the walking - no pressure and I can chill and listen to a podcast.
If all goes well, I will be signing up for a new, challenging goal later this year. I am doing something different this time though. I am not sharing this except with a select few people, and whomever may follow my blog. I closed my Strava account (yes, the data was lost, but I would never go back and look at that anyway. Who cares what you ran two years ago?), and I am not enlisting the help of a coach.
I am going back to old times when I ran and raced for myself. For a while, I was too aware of people watching my progress, and it changed my focus. I am not externally motivated, and when I found myself trying to do things not to let others down, it caused me to hate what I was doing. There was no more joy in it, no matter how many "kudos" I got.
This next race is for me. Yes, if during the event, people want to post so others can follow along, I am fine with that, but I don't think I will be sharing this next adventure. I don't think so, anyway. Sometimes it's okay to just do something because you want to and not because others are watching.