Have you ever had to make a decision that tore you apart? Something that you knew was the right course of action, but you were afraid to say it out loud?
I made one of these decisions a few weeks ago. It took me a long time to admit to myself what I needed to do, and even longer before I was able to tell anyone about it. I am usually a pretty open book and talk about everything with the people in my life, but for some reason I had to work up the courage to even bring the subject up with my sister.
What could be so hard?
This January, I will NOT be running a full marathon. I’ll be doing a half instead. I know for most people this would not be devastating. I know a normal person would look at the situation and make the logical decision. I know that this year my heart wasn’t in the training, my body is tired from all the other exercise I do, and my free time is scarcer than ever. I know I’m doing the right thing, so why does it break my heart?
1. Running is a HUGE part of my identity. Long before I was a fitness instructor, I was a runner. Running has been my best friend, my therapist, my doctor, and my church.
2. I am stubborn. I stick with things to the bitter end. I still love the Spice Girls. I kept my “fat” jeans for YEARS after I lost the weight despite my friends telling me how much better I would look in pants that fit. I have a very hard time quitting anything, ever.
I have talked it over with a lot of people and the responses were all very supportive. Every single person I talked to agreed with my decision, but nobody really seemed to understand how hard it was. The responses ranged from “that’s cool, I can’t even run a 5k” to “you ran two marathons this year, so you don’t need one next year” to a sarcastic “I can’t believe you’re ONLY going to run 13 miles” Not one single person said anything to make me feel bad. Not one person judged me, except for me.
Making the decision to drop to the half affected me because I felt like I was failing. I have only missed one year of the Houston marathon since I started running, and that was because I had a baby a week before the race. Last year I had the stomach flu and was throwing up for the whole day before the marathon and still finished it. I know that I could run it, I am choosing not to, and that is what killed me. In order to accept that I could change my goal, I had to change my perception of my identity. I had to realize that I can still be a runner without running a marathon every year. I had to accept that changing my goal from a full to a half is not quitting. What felt like failure was actually just change.
While not everyone can relate to my exact situation, I know lots of people who have had to go through similar things. It’s okay for me to run a half marathon. It’s okay to feed your baby jarred food sometimes. It’s okay to only make 7 of the 300 things you pinned on pinterest. It’s okay that you swore up and down your kid would NOT watch tv until he was 5, and now he watches a Sesame Street every day while you cook dinner. It’s okay that you now count yoga pants as getting dressed. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.
Goals are great things. They can keep us accountable and give us a sense of direction. But they shouldn’t be more important than your happiness. I’m not saying to set a goal and then give up on it the second things get hard. I’m saying that if you need to modify it, be kind to yourself. I am not giving up on running, I’ve just replaced my goal of finishing a marathon this year with the goal of kicking butt at a half marathon.
And if something happens between now and January I might change my goal again.
And that will be okay, too.