I think I’ve found the answer. No, not to life, the universe, and everything. My nephew tells me that’s 42. I’m talking about the answer to my running slump–and maybe more.

Awhile ago, I wrote about my struggle with my running routine, how it had become a mindless habit and how I wanted to get the joy back. When I wrote that, I said that if the old reasons for running weren’t working for me, I needed to find new ones. Well, I have.

First, let me tell you that I never stopped running, though I did back off the miles a bit. I gutted through the slump (thanks, Ang), trusting that somewhere along the way I’d find what I needed. Then, a friend’s mother-in-law serendipitously gave me a few of her old running magazines (thanks, Linda). Reading others’ stories sparked my excitement. The more I immersed myself in the articles and features, the more I wanted to lace up my shoes and GO. I knew this feeling was critical, so for a few weeks, I devoured every running mag I could find, front to back to front again. I also bought my own subscription (thanks, Lauren).

Then summer arrived with daunting gusto. When the thermometer showed 90 degrees at eight o’clock at night, my burgeoning-but-still-fragile motivation shuddered. Besides feeling miserable, running in the heat can be downright unhealthy. Coincidentally, the current edition of Runner’s World features an article about running in extreme heat–how to overcome it and knowing when to stop. That was just what I needed.

To counteract the heat, I’ve traded speed for distance–and I’m in love again. I get such a high from feeling as if I could run forever, enough that I don’t feel too guilty about the minute per mile I’ve given up for the time being. Although my competitive self struggled with letting go of my all-out approach, my rational self knew I needed to do it for self-preservation. For once, the rational self won. The first time I did it, I knew I had made the right choice. I’m back in the game.

Looking back, I realize there are some important lessons in my prodigal (mental) return to running, lessons I can apply in a broader context.

  1. Gut it out through the rough patches.
  2. Find a community for support.
  3. Do it a different way.
  4. Get it done.

Sharing this struggle helped, too. The transparency kept me accountable, and it opened the door for others to help. Who knew?

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