Did you ever notice that once you started doing something for reasons beyond pure enjoyment that the thing became less enjoyable? I mean, if your passion became your job, would you still be as passionate about it? For me, I briefly lost my love of running when it became a competition. Let me explain.
When I was 12 years old I ran my first 10K with my dad and I loved it. Training was a great way to spend time with my pops and just finishing the thing felt like such an accomplishment. Fast forward to high school when I was on the track and cross country teams and running became a daily chore. Don’t get me wrong, I was actually pretty good – I routinely won my hurdling and 400M events – but I started to hate running. As soon as track season was over I’d stop running completely and I’d hold off as long as possible before starting back for track season in February.
In college I still ‘had’ to run but this time it was Uncle Sam that was cracking the whip. Each semester we’d have to pass a physical fitness test that included a 1.5 mile run and each semester I’d wait until about a week before to get ready for the test. I still finished near the top of my unit but even the short 1.5 mile run was miserable.
After college I moved to Colorado where the average elevation near my house was above 6,000 feet and breathing was tough. But the scenery was amazing and running was a great way to explore. I started to enjoy running again and I haven’t really stopped since (though cold, early morning runs are still tough). That was almost 8 years ago.
Of course competition doesn’t spoil running for everyone and I know some folks who actually need competition to make running interesting. If you’re feeling burned out from running, try easing (or ramping!) your competition level to see if that makes a difference. I’m guessing we can all find a way to make running fun again.