Running my own tempo

Are you running at your own tempo? I’ve asked myself this question several months ago.

The obvious answer was NO, I was not.

I had too many references and none of it points to my own body. First and foremost there was Instagram, where images of fit and fast running enthusiasts and professionals made me envious (and too ambitious) of their PR’s and training progress that seemed so…effortless. Which I tried to imitate without considering the differences in our lifestyles.

During runs, I’d already be thinking of the caption I’d put on my Instagram’s #nevernotrunning post when I got home. Like many running amateurs in today’s social media world, I was hooked more on the likes and the comments on my Instagram and Facebook feed than the running itself.

I also have running acquaintances who were joining races left and right so I thought, I’d join as well. That’s why I run two 15-km races in two consecutive months, both of which I didn’t enjoy as much as I should have because I was too focused on my speed.

And then there’s Robin, who of course runs faster that I do because of his long legs. Legs that I tried to chase but fails, which causes friction between us, they’ve exhausted me too much. Robin is a short-distance runner. He likes to run fast but not too long. I however don’t get fired up until the 7th kilometer. I like long distance runs. We’ve reached a compromise to train together but we don’t always have to run races together.

I’m very competitive and I get envious easily with the achievements of others. But I realized it’s destroying my love for running. Running is the only sport that I’ve had the discipline to maintain for more than a year and I do not want to part with it. I also don’t want to be dissatisfied with it.

I did so many things wrong in my previous trainings especially with my first marathon. My actual training began on the second week of January, just a couple of weeks short to three months until the Rotterdam Marathon in April. My training schedule was too short and I pushed myself too hard. I did five long distance trainings above 30 kilometers and I ran 35km just two weeks before the actual race. Looking back, I was very unhappy about how I ran my races comparing it with other running junkies on my social media. It became less of my own race.

Fortunately I came back to my senses and decided to unstrap myself from this social media race before it consumes the happiness I’ve found in running. And when I said unstrap, I meant it literally as well.

Before I would have to put on my sports watch and my heavy iPhone 5 first before I could go out the door. They weighed me down, not only with their actual weight, but also with the noise that came with them. I used to check my tempo every five kilometers, take a selfie before, during and after my runs and put on different kind of music to increase my tempo.

Nowadays I leave all the gadgets at home. Without them, I can focus on my breathing, enjoy the sound of the leaves crushing under my weight, hear Robin suddenly saying “I love you”” in the middle of a very silent run and feel the environment I am running in even if it includes honking cars and scooters bleaching out toxic emissions.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’d notice that change. I seldom post running pictures. If I ever do, it doesn’t include the distance and speed. I don’t want to compare myself anymore. It probably comes with getting old.

But that doesn’t mean I am not running. Since September, (excluding a dip last in the two weeks) I’m back in my training schedule of running 3x per week, four times if I am not too tired or too lazy to get out of my warm bed in the morning. Like I wrote in a previous post, I still run at 6am  during weekdays and at 7am during weekends. I am not sure if I can go back to running after work in the afternoons. I sincerely doubt it. I find morning runs more enjoyable especially in the summer when you get treated to a beautiful sunrise.

I’ve signed up for a full marathon again next year, the Torshvn Marathon in the Faroe Islands in June. You might remember how I dislike the hustle and bustle of the big races, the crowd and the waiting. Drums and cheering does not excite me, nor do they help me. So I chose Torshavn Marathon exactly for those reasons. It is a small race but definitely not easy. I think this will be a very tough one. You’ll know what I mean if you watch the video on their website. But it is absolutely gorgeous. And I am doing it alone.

I initially planned to run an ultra-marathon but because of an important travel plan, I decided to postpone it until 2017.

It might be too ambitious of a plan but I intend to train for this marathon old-style. I plan to do away with digital accessories and design a training schedule based on the traditional way. Robin’s dad ran the Rotterdam Marathon in 3 hours and 45 minutes without a sports watch during training and his uncle had an even better speed. They should be able to help me. Otherwise, there’s that old, decaying book about marathon training in my parents in-law’s house. That should be enough. I’ll let you know if training without my digital watch is still possible. I might have to buy a log book.

I want to run a marathon every year. I still think it is the best training for discipline. And the best kind of meditation. But this time, I am going to do it in my own pace. Because nobody is going to cross that finish line for me.

How about you? Can you sincerely say you’re running at your own pace?