The risk of obsessing

I started 2015 with great ambitions. 7 weekly workouts. Minimum. Half Marathon in Feb, Olympic Triathlon in July. Full Marathon in October. I was reading, breathing, dreaming and fantasizing about running faster and longer, cycling faster and longer and swimming longer (I'm a crap swimmer, so never mind the speed!). Carefully analysing the output from Princess Charmin', smiling to myself if I'd spent more minutes exercising than the last week, or run more miles, etc.

Got to the HM in Feb and had a pretty crap run, but was very proud of getting through it. Gave myself a few days of rest afterwards. Few days turned into a week. Then two weeks away from home living in a hotel for work, with long hours and a bit of socialising in the bar after work instead of working out. By now it had become a habit to not exercise. I was upset with myself, and my waist line was increasing day by day so that the almost new suit suddenly didn't fit at all.

But whenever I told myself that I really ought to get back into the swing of things, back in the saddle for the weekly cycle tours, the 3 runs, the 3 swims, the measurebating, I lost the will to do anything and reached for the remote and another cake instead.

I think what happened to me was a "burn out". Too much obsession. Not enough enjoyment.

As of Monday I'm in non-obsessive mode. 3 or 4 workouts per week for the near future, I will probably skip the triathlon, and for now the important thing is to go out there and reacquaint myself with the joy of running (or cycling or swimming), rather than doing it for the joy of counting weekly miles or hours. Thanks for listening, and happy running :)

25 Replies

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  • At least you can recognise it now and let it be a warning to others, myself included. Hope you enjoy our next run without the pressure!!

  • Thank you Wristy. I did enjoy, and yes, it is a bit of a warning to people with the same obsessive tendencies as myself. ("do as I say, not as I do" *lol*)

  • Hi Tomas it's good to hear from you again. I wondered where you were. I think it's good to take some time out sometimes and you were doing a lot! Your body clearly needed it. But the great thing about running, or any exercise, is it's always there to return to.

    You know how to run, spring has arrived, the clocks change this weekend and you have great support here. Go forth Tomas!

  • Thank you IP, and yes, I was doing to much, and it's good with a break. You're right, exercising is still there, and even after a month it's not like starting all over again.

    Thank you for all the support. I shall go forth... hmmm... I wonder if there is a Forth Bridge HM anytime soon? (just kidding!)

  • Tomas, I think you are right, you were over doing it, putting pressure on yourself to constantly get faster and run longer and obviously being dissatisfied when you failed to meet those high, self set standards. You need a few nice long (not too long, maybe) easy runs in a beautiful environment. I would recommend off road, without any tracking or timing. Just you and your running talent appreciating the joys of being alive, in the way that only running can deliver (imho).

    Don't let yourself slip further away from all that hard won fitness. Running should be fun. Go to parkrun and get overtaken by that ten year old girl who overtakes us all. Run some beaches or moors or glorious cliff top paths.

    Keep running, keep smiling.

  • Yes! That's the spirit I want to re-find. Thank you Ian!

  • Welcome back!

    I've been finding it hard to get out the door myself. Not burn out, just not bothering.

    Do hope you get your enjoyment back. Targets are good, but can kill your joy. Have a lovely "easy" run on Monday - perhaps even leave the Garmin at home and just run, even if it's just for 10 minutes. Once you get back out there, I hope you find the endorphins are enough to send you back out again.

  • Thank you RNB. So far it's enjoyable again, and I shall do my damnest to keep hold of that feeling. I hope you get over your bout of not bothering as well :)

  • Yes the dangers of Princess Charmin' (love that!) - i must admit after my 10km race on Sunday i enjoyed the rest on Monday i was thinking if one days rest feels great what about two day - so its very easily done. So no wonder after Training for 7days - you reached for that cake (was it chocolate?- sorry cake - i miss cake) and your body needed a little rest. I think you need to find the love again - that mojo is hiding you will just have to find it. Have you looked for it under the sofa - you might have to tempt it out!

    We will look forward to hearing how Monday goes and be kind to yourself -

  • Thank you Vix. I'm afraid it was chocolate, vanilla, layer, birthday, shop bought, home made (I'm not a great baker, but needs must)... all of the above, and all were devoured like I was going to the electric chair *lol*.

    You know that you can have small pieces, right? With all your running you deserve it :)

  • Sounds good - your bit about the electric chair made me chuckle. I am trying to shed a few pounds at the moment :(

  • Just run Tomas - feel the sun on your face, listen to the birds, enjoy the surroundings and leave the Garmin at home. Rekindle the love and enjoy yourself. You will come back to this.

  • Yes! That's it! The sun, the birds, the nature experience, the freedom. Thank you Ullyrunner, I will certainly heed those words.

  • you have made the right decision, your ambitions were...rather ambitious!! I am also similar and I often set myself up to fail. Thats why I used a marathon training plan as a 'guide' but my actual plan is me writing in what I have done ( I will be sharing all the boring stats after the event!!). That was anything I write in is an achievement...this might work for you just to give yourself a boost? Perhaps after the drama of the HM ( I remember reading your blog about it...it was very wet wasn't it?), you probably needed some down time. Don't feel bad but get out there and do what you enjoy, focus on that rather than what you feel you should do....

  • Absolutely right about focusing on enjoyment. And when I get back into "proper training" mode (as I know I will eventually) I will certainly remember your words about the plan. Sounds like a brilliant idea!

  • Well done Tomas. It is easy to slip back onto the couch especially when colleagues are more interested in the bar. Good that you are taking steps to find that running high again. "See" you on garmin connect ;-)

  • Thank you GF. I must admit that I was easily led astray, but rather than beat myself up over it, I'm just going to slowly get back into the swing of things :)

  • If you see my mojo whilst your looking for yours pass it over ;) I think I've gone the other way.........not enough! Tonight was supposed to bed a run night but tiredness and the weekly ironing won out and I did that and ate pizza instead.......the shame! :( The couch is sooooo comfy though! :D

  • hahaha, yes, they can be slippery little buggers those mojos, can't they? Maybe one of the tricks is to accept it when we skip a "duty run" and not feel like we've done anything bad, but just accept that it's the runs we do that benefits us, and the ones we don't do not cause any damage. And the ones we enjoy benefits us most :)

  • I like your thinking, perhaps I was obsessing too much over getting back to 3 runs a week religiously instead of going with the flow............. :) Guess if I start enjoying them more I'll want to do more and i'll be back to where I was before I know it...........thanks!

  • There is a definite post hm mojo drain that can make it a chore to go out and run - couple that with being away for work and it's no wonder you slipped! Having said that - your training did look at bit obsessive!! As the others have suggested, try running without the tracking for a few runs. Welcome back to the fold...

  • Thank you very much ASP, yes, gentle running for a while is definitely the "new plan".

  • Thank you very much all for the lovely encouraging comments. With Monday (and Wednesday) both in the bag, I believe I have found the self discipline to get out of the house again.

    And both runs were very enjoyable indeed. 3 km on the grassy towpath along the canal, and 1.5 km home on the road. It is exactly the same route that I used for 80% of my c25k training, so it felt like coming home. The swans were still there, and last year's ugly ducklings were now beginning to resemble swans as well, although with their muddy grey colourings still. The sheep were out (had a good laugh when I ran past a farm where a redneck hilbilly was trying to herd his sheep with a pickup truck!), the sun was out, and the glorious feeling of "I've done good" when I slowed down to the cool down walk was the same as I remembered. Even the tight calfs and Achilles tendons the next morning feels like good old friends greeting me.

  • Welcome back Tomas. When you have perfectionist tendencies it's very easy to slip into the self-defeating mindset of "if I can't do it brilliantly, it's not worth doing it at all". So chuck out the plans and run for the love of it, for now at least - though from your last post it looks like that's just what you are doing :-)

  • Welcome Back Tomas - I had wondered where you were and hoped all was well with you. Glad to see it is now :-) and to see your sound advice being offered once again.

    Just have fun for now before you start to crank it up again (as you will). And you have a bit more armour to add to your experience in dealing with "stuff" in the future, so you do have something good to take from the last few months. You will be aware what can happen after an HM and be ready to nip it in the bud next time.

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