I’m putting my stopwatch away. Not forever, mind you. I will get it out for track workouts a couple of times each month. Other than that, I don’t want to know. I run for fun. I run because I enjoy running. Paying attention to the stopwatch is sometimes fun, but more often than not it has been the source of stress and disappointment. This was not the case a few months ago. I have trained for two marathon in the last two years and my times at all distances are gradually improving. All of that was done ignoring the stopwatch and enjoying the run.
So how did I get into this negative cycle of setting my sights too high and having them torn apart by the reality of the stopwatch? Success. I have not won anything recently (not in the last 25 years), but my times have steadily gone down. In large races, I am now “in the hunt” for age-group glory. I may be 46, but I am kind of fast for a 46 year old. I have gotten close a few times and started craving more success. Worse than that, I started craving it faster. I want it now! This is NOT a healthy mindset. It is not the kind of thinking that allows for enjoying a good long run.
I am going back to: “Enjoy the run and the results will come.” This is what brought the meager success that I have had recently. I will still wear my stopwatch at the track and try to get faster, but not on the long runs. Not on the pace runs and tempo runs. Not on the hill training. No. I will listen to my body. I will enjoy the freedom that running offers. I will bask in runner’s high. I will run with friends and family without pushing too hard.
I still expect to get faster, albeit very gradually. If the results don’t get drastically better over time, then so be it. At least I will have enjoyed the ride.