“I don’t wanna do it and it’s really liberating to say no to s*** you hate.” – Hannah, GIRLS
I am going to quit training for a marathon.
At the beginning of the year, I started a pretty aggressive marathon training plan with the idea I’d do 26.2 this spring and hopefully a 50-miler before my 30th birthday in the fall. That had been my intention while still in Lesotho so I ran about five times a week to maintain fitness and then I was so excited to run my old routes at home that I was sneaking four milers into all the holiday festivities. I figured that I would need some kind of a focus, a stable to my day, as I job search and try to assemble a normal life.
It felt great to be back in training mode, at first, as I watched my milage increase and my pace get faster. Like it had in Africa, running became the one thing that I could always save for just me, which I desperately need as I muddle through this transition.
Eventually, the strain of training drained the fun out of running. Times were more important than liberation. When I could run and squeezing it in between this and that made it feel like a chore. The bitter winter bullied me into waiting until the warmest part of the day, giving my day an anxious disarray, or I had to get the miles in on the treadmill and no amount of trashy TV or inspiring music videos could relieve monotony of just three miles running into nowhere.
I had planned 14 miles for Sunday and I woke up dreading it. The cold air biting my face, the constant worry of what my time would be and if that would be on pace for goals I haven’t set yet. I snapped at family and burst into tears thinking about this one run dictating what should be a relaxing day.
This is not why I run.
I run to escape. I run to be greater than expectations for myself. I run because it makes me feel confident and beautiful. I run because I can be me.
So, I am quitting this training program. Because I have no idea where I will be come May, I actually don’t even have a goal race in mind let alone signed up for one and whatever training I do do will likely be inhibited when I am able to move. I want to run a marathon and another ultra, but right now training is doing more harm than good. I am not quitting because training is hard. Training for my ultra was downright painful but I absolutely loved it. The love is not present this time, so it’s time to let go of it.
Of course, this marathon training is a metaphor for something bigger. There are jobs that I know I can get, jobs in which I would probably do well. There are places I could move to, places that are familiar with familiar faces. But I don’t want those jobs. I don’t want to move to those places. I can predict the unhappiness and struggle in those positions and those places and I am deciding that I deserve better.
As I search for jobs, I only apply for positions that I know I could invest my passion in and at companies that I believe in. I will not apply for a job in a place that doesn’t excite me. That doesn’t mean that those aren’t great jobs in great places, but I know what’s best for me and I won’t take anything other than that.
I am saying no over and over to what I don’t want and, yes, Lena Dunham, that is freaking liberating.
Sure, my job search may take a bit longer and demand extra patience, but it will be worth it. I refuse to sacrifice my values and passion for what’s easily attainable if it is going to make me miserable. That takes a lot more courage and perseverance, but that’s my choice.
So, I will keep searching and running, but it will be on my terms. It’s good to have goals and sometimes you have to take small steps to get to those big steps, but if they make you unhappy then there is really no point.
Photo found here.