This post seems out of place to publish right now, as I'm currently in peak 50 miler training. Perhaps that's why I feel the need to write it now. I've just had some strong feelings come up over the last several weeks and wanted to get them down while they are still at the surface.
I love trail running, and I love ultrarunning. These sectors of the running world are not mutually exclusive, though they are often used interchangeably (and incorrectly) as the sports have grown exponentially over the years. What I've come to learn over the past year is that I love TRAIL ultrarunning, but at the core, I really love trail running. The bottom line is that my love for running 20+ mile training runs every weekend has begun to wane, and I'm becoming resentful.
I wrote early on in my blog that I turned to trail and ultra running because I was sick of trying to beat my own PRs on the road. I really just wanted to slow down, observe nature, and absorb everything there was to know about running really, really far.
Over the past year, I have treasured every moment run on trails. I have continuously been reminded of how lucky I am every single time I run a new trail. The beauty and peace I experience on long training runs in the woods is unmatched by any feeling in the world. I have continued this journey while training for the Stone Mill 50, and I'm sure that race will present me with more challenges and feelings than I could ever imagine.
I am truly looking forward to running 50 miles this November 16th, and accomplishing something I never would have dreamed possible only a year ago.
However, since the Vermont 50K, I've begun to feel the beginning stages of mental burnout. I read an article by the "Sock-Doc" this morning titled "The Ultra Dilemma" that seemed to perfectly capture my feelings. I haven't been running ultras for that long (less that a year!), but the reality is, I have been training for the marathon distance or longer for the past 2 years straight. I'm sure that's not a big deal to some runners, but it has really begun to wear me down mentally.
I will not attribute this burnout to ultra distances exclusively. If I were "just" marathon training for the past 2 years, I'm sure I would be in a similar spot. I have taken a month break here and there, in between training cycles, but I have continued to jump right back into long distance training programs and start the process all over again every 6 months.
I am tired. I need a break.
[This is not easy for a runner to admit.]
I've hinted via Twitter and online forums that I am going to cut back my distance training in Spring 2014. Normally at this point in the season, right before a big goal race, I'm searching all over the internet for new 26.2+ milers to run. I've noticed this season that I can't help but look for races that are 13.1 miles or less.
Will I still be running trails in 2014? Absolutely. One of the best things about training for 3 ultras in 2013 is that it forced me to get back to my running roots at the Wissahickon trails. Will I be running for 3-5 hours every weekend on those trails, with another long run planned the next day? Probably not.
I think the real reason I am publishing this now, is so I don't get caught up in the post-ultra emotional roller coaster hype and sign up for a spring marathon, 50k or 50 miler "just because." I am truly ready for a long race hiatus, and putting this in print will help me stick to that.
For now, I'm looking at many shorter trail and road races for the first half of 2014. The fun part is with shorter races, I can run MORE of them without worrying as much about trashing my legs before a goal race. For the first time since 2010, I am excited to train for and run a fast half marathon. I am ready to race more 10Ks, which is actually a really strong distance for me, and one that I think I can definitely PR in. And who knows, maybe I'll finally get out there and run my first 5K this spring!
Another spring race I am super excited for starts with "R" and ends with "agner Cape Cod." I'm still in the planning stages of this with some Oiselle teammates, but after my Bourbon Chase plans fell through this fall, I am thrilled to get a chance to run my first relay.