Just got the pictures back from my first half marathon in two years and I couldn’t help but laugh at my smiling face. Nothing about my picture is posed, I had no idea that the camera was there! Or at least, not until after I passed him (her?). I love the mental challenge that is running, the struggle to maintain a pace when people pace you early on (because let’s face it, you end up passing a lot of them later on) and the temptation to skip a water stop because it’s mile 4 and you still have a full water bottle. This is probably the first race where I feel like I did it right, correcting mistakes I made when I ran my first two without being too cocky in my abilities. After all, while I finished the race feeling great, I also finished thinking I could have gone faster.
This is the only of my now three completed half marathons where I did not wear headphones and I can’t help but feel as though not wearing them changed my entire experience. I did not, as I feared, find myself bored at any point in the race. Not wearing headphones actually made the race more enjoyable because I was able to engage in my surroundings and take in those around me. I was able to interact more positively with spectators because they knew I was paying attention to them. As an added bonus, I was less aware of the passage of time which meant I was able to stay motivated longer. At this point in my running career, I don’t really care about how fast I run the race — I just want to be surrounded by people who want to challenge themselves and have fun doing something that I love. Of course, the t-shirt and charity donation that accompanies race entry helps too.
For about a mile of the race, I ran with a woman who was running her 121st half marathon. As we spoke, I learned that she was flustered because she forgot her headphones and her running watch wasn’t charged. There I was, nothing on my wrist by a friendship bracelet and nothing in my running belt but my car keys, cheerily saying that at least she didn’t let that stop her from running. At least she could run. Despite my pointing this out, the woman continued to complain about how she had messed up her running routine and focus on all the times she had done it right. She sped up at some point a little before the next mile marker and I passed her when we hit the rolling hill portion of the course. She made a point of bragging that she hadn’t done any training specifically for this race, while I had been training for months. That’s why I like running 13.1 miles though, it’s all in your head. We both knew we could do it, I just didn’t need a smartwatch to tell me I was doing it correctly.
It’s one of the reasons I took a break from knitting over the last couple of weeks, opting to practice sewing through the creation of napkins, a pillow, and a dress. Learning that my vintage machine has stitches beyond forward and backward was an exciting discovery, something that shouldn’t overshadow winding my first bobbin or successfully shirring. My approach to crafting is the same as my approach to running, it’s supposed to be fun. Sure sometimes you reach a point in the project where the steps are daunting or confusing or not fun (ie weaving in ends), but that doesn’t mean you don’t like the activity overall.
If you’re not enjoying the ride, perhaps it’s time to step back and consider why you’re feeling burnt out. Maybe you need to cast on a new project or switch to a different craft for a while. Maybe you need to go for a hike instead of a long run. There are times when you need to push through, but remember that the main point of a hobby is the enjoyment of that hobby. Bonus points if taking a break leads to a frenzy of inspiration, but hopefully, the break leads to renewed enthusiasm or a new way of thinking about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.