Friday, March 22, 2013

A New Chapter?

Running is a very individual thing and we all have our reasons for doing it. And in that, we all have our way of internalizing how we approach it, what we get out of it, what motivates us, etc... So forgive me if this post is a bit hard to follow, but it is a blog after all!

I am not sure when the realization hit me, but I suspect it was before Old Pueblo. The realization I am referring to is that I am kind of tired of training, kind of tired of proving things to myself, and tired proving things to others (even if though those are likely just things I am making up in my own mind). I suspected, and even confided in a friend, that if I had a good race at Old Pueblo, I likely wouldn't have the motivation to do it again at Leadville SR 50. And, I had a good race, nearly a breakthrough race. Either way, I am now injured, again! I am all too familiar with the injury scene. Rehab now comes naturally to me. I doubt this injury will limit me much beyond a few weeks. However, I suspect that even if I were healthy I wouldn't really feel the urge to jump out and start running miles just to follow a plan. At the moment, I am unmotivated and think I have started to run for the wrong reasons.

The real theme here is that I need to make some changes. I need to take some time and return to what I love about running. Running is not some passing thing in my life, it is a way of trying challenges, keeping fit, seeking new adventures, all things I hope to continue doing into my 40's and 50's, even if in different ways. So running myself into the ground isn't really doing much good. Ok, blah, blah, so I am a mental mess. What else is new? What does this really mean? I started running primarily for health, for adventure, and to enjoy the outdoors. Well, if I am injured, then I clearly am violating the idea of running for health. And, I can't possibly go outside for some adventure and enjoy the outdoors if I am icing and doing PT instead. As any runner knows, training plans and enjoyment don't often go together, for long anyway.

I got here because I am goal driven and obsessive. I got here because I pushed my body to the limit and the glaring weaknesses are staring back at me. What I need to do is make running more about me again, about what makes me happy. And, that starts with, well, me! (Selfish sport, right?)

Anyway, it is obvious that I need to quit thinking about running miles and I need to spend more time in the gym fixing my weaknesses. There is a tension between gym time and running time because both require recovery. And I only have so many hours to devote to this. The gym needs to get priority over miles, until my body is ready to handle the miles again. It is also obvious that I need to remember how to enjoy running and quit worrying about training plans and what "I have to do this week or tomorrow", and whether the weather will cooperate, and if I can juggle my life schedule to make it happen, etc... (queue the Rocky III scenes, anyone?) Finally, I need to quit comparing myself to other runners and to a time clock. I first ran 50 miles just to see if I could, for the adventure. Now I am trying to race these crazy things. Hopefully, I can regain some of that rookie enthusiasm.

The real implications of this are simple little things that make a big difference:
  • I will probably limit my running to 4, possibly three days a week for a little while
  • I hope not to follow a plan, but feel my way through what I need and what I want
  • I am going to limit my exposure to running related social media
  • I will try to hit the gym hard at least 2-3 days week
  • I'd like to shed a few pounds (just a few, don't get nervous mom and Nannie)

One thing to be clear before I end this ramble, this isn't a running eulogy. I still have goals that I'd like to accomplish before I ride off into the sunset. The two goals that stand out are to BQ and take at least one shot at a 24 hour finish in a 100 (25 if it is Leadville). And I suspect it won't be long before I set my sights on one of them. But for now, I need to regain some balance and recharge the batteries. And, I still plan to partake in all the events that I have committed to this year. We'll see how my mentality, my training, and my health improve as the warm weather arrives.

Discussing this with a friend, it occurred to me is that some of what I seek is true, rich friendships in running. Friends where the conversation goes beyond running. If you are someone that I keep up with primarily via social media, then I'd love to keep up with you in a more meaningful way. Feel free to drop me comment here or send me an email. Twitter is the one place I will likely still stay active, so feel free to "follow" me at @aj_wellman. The rest of you know how to find me, if you want to :)

Run healthy and happy!


  1. AJ - I am sorry to see you are injured (I've been dealing with something annoying myself the past two weeks) I've had ITBS too and that shut me down for a long time. I ended up getting analyzed and discovered one of my legs was a bit longer than the other and that was causing an issue because I only pronate on one foot but the shoes I was in were 'too much', I got orthotics, better shoes, but I think honestly what helped the most was pilates on the reformer machines where someone watched me and told me where I was not 'balanced' and then worked on strengthening those muscles.

    I can't tell you anything I'm sure you haven't already researched but I just wanted to say I know you will recover from this with and it will be that much more knowledge you'll have. I hope you're back on the trails soon.

  2. Sandra -
    Thanks for the comment! I definitely won't go down the shoe/orthotic rabbit hole as I don't believe much in that as a cure for any kind of imbalance. My injury definitely is a combination of strength and flexibility in my hips and glutes -- a common story for runners. Pilates is something I have yet to experiment with, but certainly would like to. I am currently experimenting with some Active Release Technique (ART), which I hope will get me back on the trails as I continue to evolve and address the imbalances.

    Thanks again, I appreciate the comment and the support!


  3. Aj, your level of self examination is amazing. Your bravery in being willing to change and head down unknown paths is commendable. I definitely don't want to lose touch and would love more opportunities to run together and possible talk over food and/or a beer afterward.

    You comment a couple weeks back on my running schedule did get me thinking. You're right in that running in the evening for the sub-ultra distances I'm at isn't really helpful. But, I also thought about what I would be giving up to run early during the week, and it's just not worth it at this time. So, my behavior isn't changing but I now have my reasoning straight and I have you to thank for it.

    If you want to meet up on a weekend for some running (or even on a weekday evening) email me: chemerik at gmail dot com.

  4. was just wondering how you were doing AJ!....hope training is going well and that the injury is healing or healed...take care care my friend!

    Ed Thomas