Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On Quitting 13.1

I didn't want to write this post.

I didn't want to admit that I took on a challenge too big, that I couldn't do something it seems everyone and their mother has done or will do in the upcoming months. I hate failure more than anything, especially when it comes from myself. Past experiences have led me to an obsession with achievement and winning, never failure.

I've been training to run the IronGirl Half-Marathon for a few weeks now. At first, I was incredibly excited. What an amazing accomplishment this will be! I told myself to enjoy the process, not worry about how long a distance of thirteen miles is. This was for the experience, not for any sort of time goal. The important part was to enjoy it.

At first, I was shooting to finish within 3 hours. If I could make it within that time frame, I would be incredibly happy with myself. Then I started to realize how hard it would be to keep up that pace, when I'm walking a good portion of it. I'm not a fast runner by any means and neither am I a fast walker. (Darn short legs.) I began to tell myself to forget about finishing within 3 hours. Instead, focus on finishing my miles and preparing my mind for race day. Enjoy the experience.

I wasn't enjoying anything. My runs were painful and almost every long run made me cry and beat myself up in frustration. Every run made me question why I was doing this. Why did I shoot for such a lofty goal when it's still hard to run just a mile? Is this something I want to do or am I doing this for other people? Am I doing this to fit in to this crazy blogging world where everyone seems to love running and training for marathons? (At least in the healthy-living world. And not that there's anything wrong with that.)

I stressed myself out to the point of shingles. My body had to physically let me know I was under major stress and needed to make serious changes before things got worse. My low immune system also played a role in this, but so did stress. Stress about training, about the race, about how others would view me as a quitter if I dropped out of the half-marathon.

To be completely honest, I didn't want to admit on this blog that I was quitting again. I didn't want to let everyone down. I had so many people rooting for me, telling me I could do this. I hate the connotation of being a quitter, but I guess it's a label I have to take on. Because I am. I'm quitting. I'm dropping down to the 5K, from 13 miles to 3.

When I made the decision, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt free. I felt as if I could finally breathe again. But it also sucks. I know I'm going to feel awful come race day with all the half-marathon runners and me - still running baby 5K races. But I also know it's the best decision. My body - physically or mentally - isn't prepared for 13 miles. As much as I pushed myself, my body finally pushed back and told me enough is enough. This isn't a decision I made lightly or in the heat of the moment. It's a decision that feels right.

My plan is to keep running, but keep the distances small. Build up my stamina and endurance so my body will be ready to tackle a half-marathon some day in the future. Start with one-mile runs and gradually increase, as I feel my body getting stronger. I want to give this running thing its fair shot because I so badly want to be a runner. I want to be one of you guys.

April 10th doesn't feel like Doomsday anymore. It feels like a normal day where I will go out and try to kill my previous PR of 42:32. So maybe it's not quitting. Maybe it's just being smart.

Sources: x, x


  1. Aww love this isn't failure, this is going after a dream. This was god's way of telling you you don't have to be like everyone else,that you just need to have faith in the timing that's right for you.I'm proud of you for persevering through setbacks and I know you will get there in time!

  2. Don't worry, not everyone is a runner! Bloggers make it look glamorous but I myself have always been honest with myself: I hate running long distances. 5k's are a perfect distance for me, and I'm fine with that. I'd rather do yoga or hop on a bike any day.

  3. I agree with Kathleen - not everyone is a runner! You don't HAVE to be a runner to be an athlete. I completely agree there is this huge pressure in the blogging world though, when I was injured and COULDN'T run I totally felt it everywhere. Reading about people's long runs on Twitter, reading about training plans on blogs/Facebook/DailyMile. It was really hard.

    Maybe try reading some blogs of awesome athletes that AREN'T primarily runners, maybe some triathletes or cyclists?

    I think that if you don't like running, or running long distances, don't do it! Find something you DO love doing! :)

  4. Like I said to you before - if it's something you're not enjoying, there's nothing wrong with not doing it. I think it's way better for you to know your body and listen to what it's telling you.

    And, there is NOTHING wrong with running in a 5k. Think of how many people will never run that distance and know that you've done it...more than once!!! That's something to be proud of!

  5. To me.. you're not a quitter because you're not really quitting on running overall. I admire you for trying and I agree with Kathleen & Amber, not everyone is a runner. I hate running as of right now.

  6. I don't think you're a failure at all. It's being smart. Changing plans is never any sort of failure in my mind, at all. Last year I was training for the Soldier Field 10 mile. I had a knee injury after my biggest long run (9 miles). I had to stop trainig. I hated it. I cried. I binged on junk food. I was miserable. But then I figured out there was a length that will work for me (5k and 10k) and so I went after that and you know what? It felt good. Something I could. Something I *enjoyed*. That makes all the difference in the world. I think you're incredibly smart to take something you don't like out of your life. I don't think we do that enough of. So as far as I'm concerned? pat yourself on the back. Seriously. You rock.

  7. This is not failure, Stephany. Really, this is you doing what's right for your body & your mind. Giving yourself more time to achieve a goal. Recognizing your limitations, for now.

    I admire you for this post, for your dedication, and, yes, for your perseverance.

  8. I wouldn't think of it as a failure.. sometimes we just choose things that are too big for the moment. You have A LOT going on right now.. trying to finish school and everything. It makes more sense to accomplish smaller goals, like maybe commit to doing atleast three 5k in the nearish future or something like that. When you body is ready to run more, you'll know. Working out should be a struggle, but not THAT big of a struggle. Ya know? Personally, I love to run 5ks and maybe even some 5 mile runs but I have absolutely no urge at this point to do a 1/2 marathon and I am fine with that. I work out to get healthier and I love running as one of my workouts, but not 13 miles!

  9. First off, I am so happy that you chose to share this. And second, like Dixie Bell Designs said, I wouldn't see this as a failure.

    Stephany you have done SO much and you have a lot to be proud of. So what if you didn't do this? Whatevs. Keep working at the things you LOVE and want to do because they make you happy. That makes you a winner.

  10. You know, I agree with the others... this is not failure, this is admitting to yourself that you started something that you don't really want to do. Admitting that and making the decision to quit is a sign of strength, IMHO.

  11. I know YOU know you made the right decision, but I just want to say that again to you. I wanted to be a runner for awhile too, and then realized my body either isn't ready for it, or is not meant to be a runner so I'm going easy on it for now. Don't feel bad with all those other people around you on April 10th - feel proud because you're running a race!

  12. aw you are clearly not a quitter, quitting would be giving it up completely. you have to listen to what your body is telling you and set your pace for what is best for you. good luck!

  13. I struggle with this a lot, as I work through Couch to 5K. I'm trying to learn to love it and I'm not sure yet if I'll ever be a runner. What matters here, Stephany, is that you tried. Now, you can move on to trying other things: biking, yoga, etc. that you might enjoy more. Who wants to spend all that time doing things they don't like? Do what you want to do, and enjoy it.

  14. Stephany! You should in no way feel like a failure. You listened to your body and that is the most important part. Going from a 5k to 13.1 is a big leap. 5k's are a great way to build confidence and work on improving in a smaller distance. There's no rush :) 5k or long as you are trying your best than that is what makes you a runner.

    And if you decide running is not what you want to do, there are plenty of other forms of exercise Just do what makes you happy!

  15. I know the feeling. I tried to run both the San Antonio Rock and Roll and the Houston Half Marathons a couple of years ago. I never even signed up for them. By the time I decided I wouldn't even sign up, I had been "training" for 3 months and still couldn't run three miles without walking or stopping. I was depressed and decided that I could just never be a runner.

    The minute I took that pressure off of myself, I found it more enjoyable to go for runs/walks with my friends. And I didn't even think about pushing myself. I just enjoyed what I could do. Which at that time was alternate running and walking three miles.

    Listen to your body and listen to your heart. When something becomes a burden rather than a joy it has taken a bad role in your life. Step back, run your 5k and maybe take time off - look into other exercise forms - cycling, swimming (you do live in Florida after all), zumba, or anything that makes you excited rather than the runs that you dread.

    Serious kudos for sharing with us. It's a scary thing to do and a scarier thing to admit. I'm proud of you for doing both.

  16. You are so brave. And NOT a failure at all. I commend you for listening to your body and doing what is best for you. That is very healthy and you should be proud of it. I struggle with that.

    I agree with everyone that you don't have to be a runner to be an athlete. And running does not come naturally to all! The fact that you are trying so hard is inspiring.

    And don't discount the 5K. 5Ks are H-A-R-D. I get more anxious about 5Ks than any other distance. So keep rocking the workouts! We love hearing how you are doing, even if it is strugglin or not meeting the plan you have set up for yourself!

    I have a feeling you are going to enjoy working out a lot more now that you feel that weight lifted :)

  17. As much as you want to be the girl who runs 13 miles, you should never force yourself to do something JUST because. I think it's great that you dropped down, and when you AND your body are both prepared, you'll kick butt in a bigger race. Good luck! :D

  18. Don't think of it as quitting, dear! I think it was the healthiest decision for you. And really, if you are not enjoying it, maybe it is not the sport for you? Running is not for everyone. I think there is sort of a disproportionate # of bloggers who run/love running so I think these becomes this skewed view that EVERYONE loves running. But it's not for everyone and if it's causing you stress, that's not good! So just take it easy and see how the 5k goes and go from there. I think it's good to ease into doing a 1/2 marathon as 13.1 is a LONG ways to run!!

    Don't beat yourself up, ok? Gosh, you are already handling so much right now, like shingles!

  19. I totally understand where you're coming from with feeling like a failure, but you're NOT. You're realizing your limits and not pushing yourself to do something just because it sounds good in theory. It's a smart thing to listen to you body and go with what you know is best. And hey, running a 5K is pretty darn good!

  20. you're not a quitter! You're just not ready for that challenge yet, and there's nothing bad about that! Hell, I can't run a QUARTER mile.

    You have all the time in the world to train, and if running isn't fun anymore, maybe you should take a break. I know that sounds like a bad idea, but obviously your body is telling you something is wrong.

    Good luck!

  21. You are definitely not a failure! I have been there and had to drop a half marathon last year because I just wasn't ready for it at all. Remember, it's always about what you enjoy and not what others enjoy. It's great to have a support system through other bloggers and sometimes it's hard to keep focused on one's own goals while others make it seem so effortlessly to run yet another 6 miles.

  22. You shouldn't look at letting go of something that you don't enjoy as failure - it's an opportunity to find something else you do enjoy. I know exactly how you feel about running, my runner boyfriend made me want to get real into it, but simply put, it's boring as hell! I'm just not a runner. But there are so many other sports and activities I DO love. Have you tried swimming, biking, or rowing? I've found them all to be much more exciting than poopy running. I also think aerobics classes are so much fun, because they're always different and the instructors are usually very motivating. Hang in there! You'll find your niche, you just have some exploring to do :)


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