I Am No Longer A Runner

I am not sure when it happened or what all took place to make it happen, but I can no longer call myself a runner.  Runners just don't act the way I have been acting lately.

I have been struggling with what and how much I eat for some time now and have tried to fix it but have not yet been able to stop eating like I am running 40-50 mile weeks with long runs up to 20 miles.  I don't eat horrible, I just make occasional bad choices and almost consistently eat too much.

If the eating was the only thing I wouldn't be taking the time to write this, but I have also had issues keeping motivation up lately.  I really would like to fix this as well, but I am not sure exactly what is causing it or if it is a combination of things.  I am not sure if the winter months have derailed me, or if it is the fact that I am trying to deal with a small thigh injury which has been causing me to miss many days of running that I otherwise would have enjoyed.  There is also the possibility that I am depressed from being just 3 weeks out from the Publix Georgia Marathon, and no where near where I was in training for the first two marathons.

I have not put out a "goals" post for the Publix Georgia Marathon yet simply because I don't have any.  My training has simply been a "flying by the seat of my pants" type of schedule.  I was trying to build my mileage, but every time I did I would have to take a day or two off to let my thigh recover.  This lack of purpose and lack of a goal has lead me to a lack of desire to run on days like yesterday.

I knew I needed to run at least 12 miles, but life happened and I found myself at 6:00 pm with no desire to run.  I had eaten a healthy, but big lunch, and had taken a nap.  By the time 6:00 came I realized I had not hydrated like I should have all afternoon.  It wasn't that I had not hydrated for a long run, but simply had not hydrated at all.  I fought the urge to skip and finally got dressed and out the door.  I fully expected to cut it short and give up midway through so I didn't take any GU or fluids with me, setting myself up once again for more failure.

In the end I did finish my 12 miles, and it turned out pretty good considering.  I paid dearly later on in the evening for not hydrating well and ended up more sore in the few hours following than I did after last weeks 16.5 miler, but I was happy that I got out there and put the miles in.  I even had the opportunity to easily cut it to 10 miles by just finishing, but wound around a bit near the end to add the last 2 miles of the plan.

True runners do not define themselves using the terminology and stories that I have written so I can no longer call myself a runner.  I am hoping I get the mojo back soon because this is really wearing on me.  I want to call myself a runner again, and soon.

Do you ever feel like you are not a true runner?  What do you do to break the downward cycle?


  1. I do a FUN run - somewhere beautiful if possible, or at least a place with good memories. If I'm not up for a race, I give myself permission to stop training for it (even if for just a few days).
    If I'm REALLY not feeling it I do a bike ride just for fun. And take extra naps.
    Be kind to yourself and allow this to play out.

  2. I'm curious about where you learned this "fact" about true runners. It's funny, because I read a lot of blogs about running, and I have noticed a trend. We're all struggling through these winter months. We're all having troubles getting the runs in, dealing with injuries, fighting off illnesses. Maybe we just all need to give ourselves a break and know that these trying times are only temporary. You are still a runner, just one who is dealing with the natural ebb and flow of training. Hang in there. Cut yourself some slack. That's the only way I know to break the cycle.

  3. Don't be so hard on yourself. Part of being a runner is managing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows both mentally and physically. It sounds to me like you're trying to force yourself to run this marathon -- if you're not in it physically or mentally, it'll only hurt worse to force it. Running should be fun -- it shouldn't feel like a part-time job or be something you dread doing. If you take a few days or a week or a month off, no one will think any less of you or strip away the title of being a runner.

  4. Well, being sidelined has made me feel like a non-runner, but other than that, I really always live the runner's lifestyle, 'cause I live and breathe it. I hope you get your mojo back--I'm sure it's in there somewhere.

  5. I agree with Teri! It seems as if a large proportion of us are having issues this Winter. I cannot count how many of these "lost mojo" posts I've read in the past couple of days (since I wrote my own, btw). These things come in cycles and it has obviously been a "long dark tunnel" of a Winter for all of us. Keep your chin up, keep plugging away, and you'll get there. I found that I had to re-frame my inconsistent training as a "mini-taper" in order to get my mind around it. And I had to set a goal and put it out there. It helped me to remember that my best running performance ever (in my mind) was when I set my half-marathon PR on TOTALLY inconsistent training! Remember what makes you a runner is facing adversity, overcoming obstacles and persevering to the finish, NOT being perfect. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting my mojo back slowly. You can too! You are awesome Tim!

  6. I have recently been down this same road. I have gained a lot of wgt since my injury and am struggling with most things. I have no clear thoughts on this matter for you - for I am struggling as well. I hope that you find the way soon. If you do - tell me the secret.

    From what little I know about you - this is just a minor blimp.

  7. Aww.. You are being entirely way too hard on yourself! We all have low motivation times and yeah the winter saps some of our mojo, but what makes a runner is hard work and determination and not giving up(including on yourself) whether that means you run 3 miles routinely or 20! You deserve to take some "me" time and decompress and step away from running hard core "all" the time.. Take a break, breathe.. and then step back in, hop back on the saddle and push yourself again. But don't beat yourself up for not being "perfect" all the time, no one is..

  8. For me, the key to getting back in the game is to have a good run. Maybe it is shorter than what you would normally do but one that you can't fail. Just get out the door and run for fun. It might just give you the kick start you need.

  9. I've been right where you are Tim, I had to drop from MCM last year because of an injury and eventually had to stop running for a few months. Unfortunatley, those months were Nov, Dec and part of Jan. I kept eating like I was running a lot of miles also...not a good combo. Here I am, 1.5 months back into running, almost 20lbs heavier and struggling to make it 3 miles. If I can call myself a running, you can too! There is no minimum weight or mileage to qualify, just the desire to be out there putting one foot in front of the other.

  10. Hang in there, Tim. And, YES!, you ARE a runner! You got out there and did it, even when you didn't want to. Conditions aren't always perfect, & we don't always get the run we strove for, but we keep putting one foot in front of the other despite it. You are a runner...you can't ditch us that easily ;)

  11. You encouraged me back in 2008 when you blogged, "If you set your aim too high and don't fulfill it, then your enthusiasm turns to bitterness. Try for a goal that's reasonable, and then gradually raise it."


    Your emotions don't necessarily keep up with your heart all of the time - that is a bonus along the way.

    The feelings will return . . . .

  12. I think this all has to do with the winter blues/blahs. My friend Doug Welch who writes the blog Really Not a Runner just posted about feeling a loss of mojo. You wanna know how you can get it back? Go watch my you tube videos www.youtube.com/marysunshine100 or read my blog www.newworldgreetings.blogspot.com and you'll get a hefty dose of inspiration that will get you back on track and put everything into perspective. This too shall pass. Hugs Mary

  13. Aw, give yourself some credit. You are a runner regardless of your weekly mileage or training plan. If you are feeling burnt out, try cross training, walking or a fun run with no agenda for a week or two and see how you feel then. In the end, running should be fun.

    The good news is spring will be here soon and your body will want to be outside soaking up the fresh air and sunlight. Hope you feel better soon!

  14. 1. I leave my watch at home and run without the stress of trying to meet a time/pace.
    2. Run a different route.

  15. Come on Tim, you know you are a runner. Non-runners would have stayed home last night. Did you make some bad hydrating choices, were you frustrated, did you lack motivation? Yes. However, that does not define who you are as an athlete. That does not take away what you have accomplished over the years. Just remember, there are tons of people out there struggling to find the energy and time to get their runs in just like you. Some admit to it, some don't but trust me everyone goes through rough patches and most of the time is during the winter or when they are "over training".

    Maybe if you set yourself some goals, like losing 10 lbs, get a new PR, BQ in 2012, get stronger (w/wts), plan to do an ultra in 2011 or 2012. I am not sure what your "future" goals are, but all I can tell you is that having concrete goals make it easier when choosing to eat a 2nd piece of cake or not. I have goals typed up on an app called Springpad and I look at them every morning.

    Blogs like yours have inspired me to sign up and train for my first marathon. My first goal was to lose more weight this year and I am on my way there. The marathon is in May, so that drives me too each day. I can go on and on about my food issues and how I struggle with them, but that is for another time and day. All I can tell you is that if I didn't have goals, I would be back up to 355 lbs in no time.

    Best of luck Tim, stay strong and thanks for everything.

  16. Yes. Two days ago I told a new massage therapist that I am a "jogger". I just don't feel fit enough to call myself a "runner". And I ran 102 miles last week with one decent workout, one incredibly bad a workout, and a decent 18 miler considering the snow/ice on portions of my path. I am just not feeling it right now. I am also eating poorly. I haven't weighed this much since I started seriously running four years ago. So no Tim, you are not alone. I hope you get your mojo back soon too. The fact that you desire it must mean something! Keep pluggin away Tim, Spring is just around the corner!

  17. Thank you everyone for the kind words of encouragement, and stern words of advice :)

    It was all appreciated very much so. I am so ready to get this behind me. I am having a particularly hard time training for a spring marathon over a fall marathon.

    Thanks again!

  18. During my training for previous marathons, usually toward the midpoint of my training cycle, I found I ended up at a point where I questioned whether I wanted to continue and had a tougher time staying motivated.

    I agree with the advice you are getting here. Stay strong and your motivation/desire will come back. This tough period in your training will help you when you get to race day.

  19. Thanks Patrick! I have had that point in both my marathons and took part of a week off and got right back to it. This is much different this time, but I will get it back... hopefully really soon!

  20. I'm still a fairly new runner (2nd year) and for the longest time didn't even consider myself a runner because of how slow I was and that I had to take walk breaks now and then.

    One day, it hit me. You are a runner. You lace up those running shoes and go out that door no matter what the weather.

    Your blog is such an inspiration! I enjoy reading out your running and you running with your girls.

    Keep your chin up. You are a runner!

  21. Thanks for the kind words OrangeBlossom. I think many people fall into that same place, but I for one think being a runner has more to do with desire and drive then to do with speed.

    Thanks for you kind words on the blog, I know I haven't been talking as much about my girls lately, but track season is just now starting so the posts will start turning back that way very soon :)