Running for It, Week 28: In which I am preemptively depressed

I am the kind of person who hates going on vacations because they inevitably come to an end and I know I will be depressed when they’re over.

I am the kind of person who dreads getting something good because there’s a part of me that will think, “well, it’s good, but it could be better,” and then something will go and ruin it anyway, in which case I will be depressed.

I am the kind of person who does not dare to dream of chasing down a dream because even if I could somehow achieve it, there is no way it could live up to the expectations I have built up in my head, and what’s the point anyway because it will never come true anyway, and I am thus depressed.

I could go on.

And so it is that I have realized that four weeks from today, it will all be over. I will  have spent like eight months of my life focused on a single goal (well, okay, two goals really, if you count June’s half-marathon as a separate goal), rearranging my schedule and my priorities and obsessively training to accomplish one difficult task. And then Race Day will arrive, and I will run the marathon, and it will be hard, but I will push through and do it, and it will be thrilling to cross the finish line, and I will be happy. But then there will be a part of me–I know this, because I know the kind of person I am–that will whisper: “Yeah, I did okay, but I could have done better.” Or “Sure, I ran a marathon, but it was an easy one (relatively speaking), so don’t get the big head.”

But the voice I fear most will say: “Okay, fine… now what?” That’s the worst. I know that once it’s over, I will be depressed because I will no longer have that singular focus. Once I’ve achieved it, then what?

And so, I thought I’d just eliminate the middleman and get depressed now. Why wait?

Is this normal? Does anyone else feel this way? Is it going to help, or hurt, my training? I mean, I’ve still got one big bad run left–the 20-miler slated for next weekend–and it can’t be a good thing to be down for that when common sense says I need to be up. I can’t be running down the road at mile 16 or so, thinking to myself, “Pfft. This is ridiculous. Why are you wasting your time? It doesn’t even matter.” (Maybe I could get Shannon to drive beside me the whole way, shouting that de-motivational slogan out the window of the van? It would save me the effort, anyway.)

I do know this: I gotta get past this somehow. Just sitting here writing about it has helped clarify the fact that this mindset is not helping me one bit. Intellectually, of course, I know this, but emotionally it’s a bit of a slog right now. And my running ability has very little to do with it. I am, if anything, more confident than ever of my ability to do this thing. I can tell that I’m improving, getting steadily better (yes, that’s pretty much the definition of “improving” — ed.) and I am frequently amazed that I can somehow look at a 12-mile run and casually dismiss it as “easy.” But for whatever reason, that’s just not enough right now. Maybe that 20-miler next weekend is just what Dr. Higdon ordered; maybe the thrill of setting the bar just that much higher will be enough to jog me loose from this funk.

But then, after that I slowly taper down for three weeks until I’m doing, like, two-mile runs. I don’t know how I’m going to feel about that. I’m sure I’ll find some excuse to complain about it. After all, that’s where I excel: the long-form whinge.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how my runs went this week: meh.

They were fine.

They could’ve been better.

3 Responses to “Running for It, Week 28: In which I am preemptively depressed”

  1. anne Says:

    I think this is why people set multiple goals, whether that be another marathon, or a triathlon, or one of those Warrior Dash-like races. Back when I was hiking a lot, bagging each new 4,000-footer in the New England kept me excited and motivated. You just have to switch your focus to a new goal, or set of goals! At least, as you say, you’ve elucidated some of how you are feeling and how it’s affecting you by writing about it. :)

  2. Jessie Says:

    My issue is more that once I attain a goal, I get lazy…like how I haven’t been running consistently since the Trolley Run 3 yrs ago! Oh, I did that, so why bother again. So I say, set some new goals. You do have lots to be proud about.

  3. Sandra D. Says:

    Your blog is fantastic. I’m really impressed with your writing. (not to mention your running) Many bloggers become best sellers. Good luck to you. Keep it up!

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