Be Encouraged … Running Leaves You Empty

fuelComing out of a difficult bout of snow storms, sickness, stress, and more demands in work & family life some days it’s easy to want to simply pack it in and just never run ever again.  I’m not kidding.  In today’s world of Facebook updates, Tweeting, and blogging at our fingertips, it’s really easy to give others the “highlight reel” … only giving insights on your best workouts, best long runs, days you feel amazing … I’m guilty of this more often then not.  And while it is encouraging to see others get out the door and doing well, sometimes it’s actually more encouraging to see and relate to others’ trials and suffering – when running and life suck … when they don’t fulfill you.  The idea that everybody loves getting out the door, always has enough time in the day to run, always feels great, always has an incredible support system that always understands what you’re doing, and fitness is progressing perfectly for their peak performance is simply an illusion.  There was a day last week when my wife and kids were out of town – I thought it a good opportunity to catch up on things around the house, work a lot, and run a lot – a perfect chance to be productive while I could.  I found myself about to go for a 20 mile run on the many slushy / icy sidewalks I’ve been restricted to all winter just sitting in my car, staring at nothing in particular, just beings still, and not saying anything for about 25 minutes.  I missed my kids, my wife, and was short on time with the Lord.  My worry and focus was upon how well I’ve been feeling while running and as of late, it has been the pits … my joy had turned circumstantial.

As much as I’d like to say, “I just had to go for a run and I instantly felt better” … a small part of me did, but there is an underwhelming emptiness that no run can satisfy.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to attain goals and be the best I can … running 3 minutes faster in the marathon (or 20 seconds faster in a 5k) can seem like a goal I want, something I need, something I’d run 90 miles/week for rather than 40 miles/week …. but even after all these years of running, still setting personal records, and running as quick as I ever have – faster than college – part of me is not satisfied.  If I keep up the quest for PR’s as my primary goal, I’ll never be satisfied as you can always run a bit quicker.  I’m getting to a point where I honestly don’t care about PR’s … a year of self discovery and exploration into running longer races on the trails gives me relief to simply “be out there, worship Him, and finish …. oh, and don’t die”.  I’m enjoying a somewhat revitalized outlook and hope to bring it with me if ever returning to shorter (track / road) racing and running.  Especially with balancing a healthy family life, moving towards higher intensity & lower volume training for 5k through half marathon distances seems very attractive some days, but I still know I have lessons and experience awaiting me in 2013 on the trails.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop running, but I’m starting to prepare myself for life beyond competing at my highest level weather it’s later this year, in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, I don’t know.

A short nagging pain in my knee towards the end of a run can flip my whole world upside down because I see it threaten my goal, my self-worth, my joy.  I hate realizing it can still effect me this much.  And in these moments I (hope that I) cling to ………  Him.  I still feel as though God has me running for a purpose to praise, glorify, and cling to Him; the trouble is when I put my self worth in the running and not His (and my) joy through running.  It’s a fine line that isn’t well recognized sometimes but I’m learning to just be in His presence and realize I’m not a runner … I’m simply a man wanting to worship God through changing diapers, work projects, time with my wife, flying around a track, or running up a mountain.  Some are more desirable on the surface, but all can be worshipful OR self-glorifying.  It’s not our actions that make us honorable (or dishonoring), it’s our heart and who we serve through those actions.

Thank you for reading my ramblings.  Another take on feeling empty even after tons of running and world renowned success comes from ultra legend Scott Jurek in this good (fairly long) read … and feel free to share when running leaves you feeling empty with others!!!

To lighten the mood in an otherwise fairly drab blog post regarding my failings, faith, and self worth please enjoy the following video of Bill Gates jumping over a chair like a gangsta:


4 thoughts on “Be Encouraged … Running Leaves You Empty”

  1. I feel your pain! I’ve been there and talk about it, too. Right now (and for the past 16 months) I’ve been not able to run like I want to. I’ve got just under 3 months left before I can, so I think those feelings will be, hopefully, not for a while again. Sometimes we need that break. Just sit, relax, and breathe. That video? Loved it!

  2. Love this. Thank you for sharing. This really resonates with me. I’m aging sand can’t seem to do what I used to be able to do. I’m going to run as long as I still can and just enjoy it because I love it, and not set crazy goals. Just running in God’s beauty.

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