I’m going to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and just say it:
I am in a running slump. My running has hit doldrums; it has been becalmed; I can almost hear the wind leaking out of its sails: ppffffssshhh.
Boredom has set in.
I know it’s not the end of the world — any runner who has been at it for a few years can tell you that running can get mundane. If they deny it, they’re lying. The routine and discipline we runners pride ourselves on can sometimes be downright wretched. It’s just a fact of the sport. This statement is usually followed by a smile and words to the effect of “But that’s the beauty of running! That’s what gives runners their mental and physical strength and awe-inspiring endurance!”
HA. <—- That's the slump speaking.
The slump will pass eventually. In the meantime, I'm appreciating little shots in the arm. Earlier this week, I went for a run and got rained on — yes, legitimately rained on, in Albuquerque. It felt fabulous. The temperature was cool but not bone-chilling, the rain fell in more or less straight lines, and my ponytail was a gloriously tangled mess when I got home (which no longer bothers me since I've discovered the phenomenal powers of conditioner. Gobs of it.). That rain refreshed me in every way possible.
Then, on another day, I was running along a street in my neighborhood when I heard a vehicle approach from behind. I sensed the vehicle slow down and I turned, not sure if it would be fight or flight, only to see…Robin Hood! He was grinning his head off and blasting the Chariots of Fire theme as his truck rolled alongside me. There is nothing like a surprise cheerleader (especially a handsome one) to brighten up a weekday run. Days later, I’m still smiling about that.
But if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that A) slumps (in running or anything else) rarely pack up and leave on their own, and B) relying on external shots in the arm, like rain and great boyfriends, only gets us so far. Sooner or later we have to start tugging on those bootstraps and pulling ourselves out of the slump.
There are countless ways to de-slump. We can change our focus. We can quit concentrating on ourselves so much and do something for those around us, whether through words or actions. We can try something new. We can acknowledge a challenge that’s been dangling in front of us for ages and go for it rather than continuing to shy away. We can even, yes, give ourselves a break, because many a slump recedes after nothing more than a good night’s sleep.
I think my ticket out of this one is a race. I’m not sure which race, or even the distance, but I want something to focus on. Something to give me a rock-solid reason to lace up the running shoes and get out the door. I have this tiny craving to chart a training plan, crank up that “discipline” thing again, and see what happens.
What’s your favorite way to de-slump?