As a runner, I’m always looking to progress with my personal bests, whether that is in time or in distance but what happens when it starts to consume you. How important is your timing when you run and should we always be tracking our runs? That’s what I’ll be discussing in today’s post.
Before I begin, I have to say I am all for looking at your times during and after your run. I wrote a post recently about “Why I’m No Long Counting My Steps” and if you read that post, you’ll know that not hitting my steps made me feel bad about myself despite the fact that I am an active person, but not hitting those steps put a dampener on that. That started to happen when I started tracking my runs too but because I wanted to progress, I knew that I couldn’t simply stop tracking them.
When I first started running, I was very focused on simply running because I didn’t have a lot of experience with before and it wasn’t as easy as “just running”. It took a lot of mental and physical energy out of me, much more than I was ever expecting so I was happy enough for a while pushing myself. Once I realised that I could run 5K, that’s when I started to look at the numbers more in depth. If I didn’t get to the same time as last time, and if I wasn’t faster, I became disappointed despite feeling like it was a great run. I became obsessed with being better and while I believe it is important to do better yourself, I think you know yourself when you’ve pushed it too far.
(Scott and I at our most recent race, the Larne 10K)
When I didn’t get a “good time” by my own standards, I started to doubt whether I was a good runner. I wrote a post a few months ago about “Becoming Comfortable With Calling Myself A Runner” and it’s exactly what it says on the tin. I had a big problem with timing and I started to doubt whether I was a runner, if I was getting these “low standards” times and often, it was really hard to deal with. It even made me not want to run because I was scared that I would get another “bad” time, and if I was doing that, then what was the point in running? I’m very competitive with myself and it was so foreign to me just to run with no expectations. I kept asking myself what would that achieve?
What does your time matter?
If you’re preparing for a race or you’re hoping to become faster or run further, then one hundred percent I believe you should track your run. Depending on what equipment and application you use, you’ll be able to see your splits and how your body reacted to going up on incline or speeding up down a hill, to name a few examples. Those will be very good lessons on learning how to deal with pacing in the future; I often find that I go up hills too fast and over time with the help of my boyfriend, I’ve learned that going slower up hills may not be ideal for time but my body can cope with running longer if I have gone slower during the hard part.
When does your time not matter?
Your time doesn’t matter if you’re just running to run. Simple as, if you’re using it as another form of exercise or you’re looking for something to get you outside, then I really don’t believe time should be your biggest worry.
(For reference, I use Strava for my running. It’s great with working out my splits and I find it to be accurate most of the time. Ever since I downloaded the app almost a year ago, it’s only not connected up twice which was frustrating at the time, but for a free app, it’s not too bad. You can get a premium version too, it comes with some great features though.)
Running has become a very lovable hobby and I can see why many runners say it is a love hate relationship; you love it when it’s over but during it when you feel like you mentally can’t go on, you hate it. It’s something that does get easier thankfully but we still have our bad days as well as our good days.
Looking back at how I used to think shows me how far I have come in terms of my mindset because no matter what time you get, you are still a runner and you shouldn’t be discouraged by your time. It still happens to me and you’ll probably find it happens to every runner, I find that it doesn’t affect me as much as when I first began.
Thank you so much for reading today’s post. I’d be really interested in hearing from other runners if they have been through this dilemma before and how they have worked through it so if you have any links, send them through to me over on my Twitter or my Instagram.