Waiting to register for my first half-marathon today at Draycote water, I broke into a conversation with the woman in front of me in the queue.
She looked the part. Fit, healthy and about forty-ish, I thought, there’s someone who seems really positive and gets a lot out of running.
I’m not sure now.
The day before the event she suddenly became a bit worried and anxious as she changed her race from the half marathon to the 10K.
Before I’d asked her, she volunteered to tell me why.
“I just haven’t put the hours into training and there’s no way I’ll improve my personal best and get the time I want”
“I just don’t fancy the half. The 10K is fine”
Of course, everyone should do exactly what they want to, without any pressure.
This did strike me as a little odd though.
It’s as if running is all about times, performance and achievement without actually enjoying the experience.
Everyone wants to get fitter but performance is a strange beast.
With all the Stravas and Fitbit technology, it’s easy to measure improvement. For many people this motivates them and encourages them to set more ambitious targets.
For me, the whole purpose, though, of running is to improve your wellbeing. This is partly done by feeling better because you are improving. But if you place so much emphasis and importance on achieving targets and goals, you end up feeling bad when you don’t achieve them.
This, in turn, creates stress and a low sense of self-worth … the very things you are trying to alleviate by taking up things like running in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong. A few goals in life are great, but life is a journey not a destination. You need to enjoy what you are doing, not just what you achieve.
As for me I completed the half-marathon. I was so slow that the marshals had run out of medals.
I did not really mind though. I’d done it. That’s what matters.