My journey as a long distance runner who started the sport later in life.
I have been toying around with another run streak and I told my husband that I was thinking about it for the month of March. He immediately responded with, “Really? I thought you hated it?” I did a run streak for the month of January, and though some days were tougher than others once working for a living started back up, I never gave up and I don’t recall ever saying, “I hate it.” I asked him what he meant. He reminded me that I started to worry about speed, that I had been running slower on the long runs and had contemplated whether running every day was bringing my performance down. I do remember a running friend mentioning that it might be related, but (a) I am not planning on any major races in March, and (b) this idea of continuous improvement has recently become insufferable.
I love RunKeeper, Garmin and MapMyRun and any way that I can see the data from my runs to motivate me to keep running. For a while there the data was the only thing keeping me in the mood to run. What I have decided I might not agree with is the notion of constant gains. Upon my return from a run, the RunKeeper app tells me that I have either run slower or faster than last time I did the same distance, which, if you are working actively at speed and wanting to make gains in pace, can be useful; but what if you are just “out for a rip” by foot?
Further, is it really reasonable for me to expect myself to always get faster? We all know it’s not; there are limits. I refuse to let a reminder of being 12 seconds slower than last time make me feel bad. I am out, I can run, I am running, and I am keeping in shape. At some point it has to be about the fact that it is a lifestyle choice, because the logical endpoint of always getting faster is that I will eventually be able to run 5K in record time, which (a) is highly unlikely, and (b) is not really my main reason for the run. Data can motivate until it doesn’t, and then it should be outright ignored if it is leading you to feel discouraged. If you are running you already rock!