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Dealing with disappointing runs
Into every life a little disappointment must fall. It's how we deal with that disappointment that makes all the difference. - photo by Kim Cowart
When I was pregnant with our second baby, my husband was in the running for a job hed been working toward since we were engaged. Hed done everything he could, including moving us to Utah to take advantage of better opportunities. At the time he was an intern and was all but guaranteed a permanent position. Everything was coming together just as wed hope. And then it fell apart.

Dec. 23 we received word that he would not get the job hed hoped for. That scene from "Christmas Vacation" where Clark Griswold lets out a tornado of verbal punches about his stingy boss ruining his Christmas? That was us.

No matter what youre working toward, its frustrating when progress eludes you, especially when youre doing everything right.

Running is no different. Lately my runs are filled with frustration. Im not recovering as quickly. Im struggling to maintain a decent pace. Im much slower than I was even a year ago due to a season filled with injury. Ah, yes. Injury. Despite yoga, stretching, PT, rest and ice, Im still dealing with nagging injury. Add that to my list of frustrations.

Knowing Im not the only one who may be struggling with running setbacks for whatever reason, here are a few tips helping me get past the frustration and find joy in running.

First, keep everything in perspective. Im slowing down, partly due to age, partly due to my lack of desire to train hard. Big deal. Nikes not knocking on my door anytime soon. My family doesnt rely on my winnings to pay the mortgage. My children couldnt even tell you what my marathon PR is. They just dont care. In fact, 99.9 percent of the people in my life dont care and that .1 percent, theyre lying about caring. I didnt lace up my shoes the first time to win trophies. I laced up my shoes for me.

Second, make new goals. Its not likely that Ill place overall in any marathons this season due to my lack of speed training. Maybe Ill never place overall again. But that doesnt mean there arent new worlds to conquer. Now that Im 40, I can set my sights on the masters division. Ill set new PRs in my new age group. Its the one benefit of getting older.

Third, focus on the good. The other day I ran in the rain. Coming from Oregon, this is a luxury I just cant get enough of. Instead of thinking of my sore hamstring, I reveled in the raindrops. It was the best run Id had in weeks. Im lucky enough to have great running friends willing to share in my crazy adventures. While on vacation I discovered a beautiful new trail in Boise and was thrilled to be healthy enough to take advantage of it. My runs havent been great, but Ive never enjoyed them more than I have this year.

Fourth, stop trying to recapture the past. Tethering ourselves to the past prevents us from moving forward. Rather than dreaming of glory days gone by, try to make today as good as possible. Despite my protestations, my daughters continue to grow up. Rather than being sad that they no longer want to snuggle in my arms, I take joy in watching them jump off the high-dive or ride their first roller coaster. The sooner I can accept the fact that I will never be my fast 32-year-old self, the sooner I can move on and see what these 40-year-old legs can do.

Fifth, take a break. Injuries arent cured overnight. Burnout doesnt suddenly disappear. Your situation wont change unless you change the situation. Take some time away from the roads. Indulge in another passion, fitness related or otherwise. A little time away can rejuvenate your passion and reinvigorate the legs. And while taking a break, give yourself a break. Most of us are stronger than we think. We are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for. We are healthier than most people are, by choice or circumstance.

Whether I run 6 minute miles or 16 minute miles, Im still running miles. Hard work pays off, but sometimes the payoff comes in unexpected ways. My husband eventually got the job he wanted in an unexpected place, and I will find joy in this new phase of running. So long as these legs still move, there will be no Clark Griswold rants from me.
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