Something’s Gotta Give

2011 has definitely been a pretty epic year so far for me. 

I ran Boston, I ran Big Sur, and I ran SFM all while devoting myself to more extracurricular activities than I could have imagined when the year started.  All this on top of Chris starting a new career and me finding a new job. 

It’s been busy, it’s been stressful, it’s been so fun, it’s been so extremely rewarding.

But I can’t do everything.  Something has to give.

August 010

My training has definitely suffered this year.  I haven’t had the same training spark since Boston training and I haven’t been able to really get in my groove.  I should have recognized this earlier on, but I was caught up in the moments of everything, am stubborn, and got sucked into marathons and training and running and everything that comes along with it.  I know there is a reason to take breaks after marathons and I know there is a reason I like to train hard specifically for one race. 

I don’t want to run another marathon without a good training cycle to back it.  I don’t want to push myself through training when I can’t commit what I want to commit to it.  I want to run a marathon well and I want to train well.  Being less than 5 weeks away from one and feeling like I am scrambling is not the recipe for a good marathon in my book.

After a lot of thought, a lot of back and forth, and a lot of just running to find my answer, I decided I am not going to run the Portland Marathon this year.  I am not going to run a fall marathon at all this year.

I am burned out.  I need to run without a training schedule because even when I say I am going to do that, I don’t.  Training plans are permanently engraved into my brain.  I need to get through another busy month without stressing about how to fit in a 20 miler and 60 miles of running a week.  I just need a break. 

June 535

Don’t worry, I am still going to be running.  I will probably be running a lot too.  I want to run trails, I want to run for fun, I want to go out and run solely for the reason that I just want to go.  I also want to ride my bike and do TRX and take spin classes and do things I never do because I am habitually “in marathon training.”

This decision was not easy and I am still a little bit sad.  I feel like I am letting myself down and just letting other people down.  But I have seen so many friends push through cycles that they weren’t invested in and always thought why?  Why do something when you don’t want to do it?  No one is making you do it.  So I took a little piece of my own advice and I feel better about it. 

 1121.6

I love to run and I love to train for marathons, but not if I am going to half ass it.  I will be back when I am ready and recharged, but until then I will be out running having a whole lot of fun while reigniting that marathon training spark for some time down the road.   

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66 Responses to Something’s Gotta Give

  1. alisa September 7, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    I think this is smart! You shouldn’t feel like you’re letting anyone down, why force yourself to do something you normally LOVE. Running for fun definitely has it’s perks. Enjoy your time away from marathon training. It’ll give you time to pick your next race =).

  2. Aditi September 7, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    I know exactly how you feel! I am in the middle of training for my 3rd half marathon of the year (not to mention the full marathon I also ran in the spring) and I feel like my life has been devoted to training plan after training plan! I think its a great idea to take a break and focus on the other things that you love to do. That way, your love for running will come back naturally! Good luck!!

  3. Page September 7, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    Oh Aron, I’m so glad that you were able to make a tough, but safe decision for you and your body. I realize that making that decision was not easy at all, but major props to you for being bold enough to make it. You’ll fall back in love with running and come back even stronger than before!

  4. Bev September 7, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Good plan. From experience, I know you will come back STRONGER after this break. Have fun!

  5. katieRUNSthis September 7, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    For starters, you have accomplished some REALLY impressive things this year. In fact, you have completed in one year, what some people have on their bucket lists to complete in a lifetime. Kudos and high fives to you, lady!

    While totally rewarding, I can relate to the feeling of having to cut something loose. If your goal was just to complete a marathon, then I would say, “Keep at it!” However, it is obvious that your goal is to RACE a marathon…and it sounds like you are on the verge of severe burn out, my friend.

    It is TOTALLY okay to take a step back from training. Again, you have done some pretty big things this year. It is 100% acceptable to give yourself a break, give your muscles a chance to rest, and give your brain a step back from schedules, plans, and mental miles.

    Whatever you do, don’t let running or training get to the point where it isn’t fun anymore. After all, isn’t that why you started in the first place?

  6. marlene September 7, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    I could have written all of that! As you know, I’ve been struggling with the same thing this summer and while I *did* decide to go ahead and run the marathon, your post has almost convinced me to change my mind. Again.

    I give you soooo much credit for making this decision because I KNOW it’s not an eas one by any means. We have both completed back to back (to back to back…) training cycles and run numerous marathons in the last couple years – some good and some bad – and it’s really hard to get it out of my head that it’s what I’m “supposed” to do.

    Anyway, I’m happy for you. This will be good. Enjoy the break and HAVE FUN! You have a lifetime of marathons ahead of you.

  7. LeeAnn September 7, 2011 at 7:49 am #

    Good for you!! Enjoy the trails…perfect time of the year for it! :-)

  8. Amy September 7, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Good for you Aron! It sounds like you need some time to just relax and recharge. Enjoy it – you’ve more than earned it.

  9. Meghan September 7, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Sounds like a decision you thought through well! Enjoy running, you’ve got a lot going on!

  10. Celia September 7, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    I think you are making a good decision. I think it is really easy to get into a cycle of running marathons because “everyone else” is and that is what you are used to doing, but if it isn’t fun or you feel like you aren’t going to get out of it what you want, it is good to take a step back for a moment and take a little break. Running a marathon and racing a marathon are totally different.You will come back much more refreshed and refocused.

    My fourth marathon, which I rushed the training and came back from injury too soon for, ending up being a disaster and I decided to take almost a year off from marathons. When I did the Iceland Marathon this August I PRed by over 12 minutes.

    You have a lifetime of running and marathons. You don’t want to burn out completely so that you hate something that can be such a wonderful part of your life.

  11. Lizzy September 7, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    Good for you Aron!! I really believe this is the right decision for you. You’ve done so well this year and its smart to listen to your body and take a step back! I so wanted to run a fall marathon this year but after Boston I just couldn’t get into the training. So I’m not beating myself up and I hope to get back the drive and dedication next year. You have so much time in your life to run marathons!!

  12. lindsay September 7, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    i’ve actually been thinking this about you for awhile… i think i probably made a few general remarks about it. it’s not something you want to push as an ‘outsider’ — the individual has to figure it out for themselves. people left me numerous comments about burnout and i refused to accept that for so long, but ultimately i do think that’s what my issue was (for like, all of 2010). you had some great training cycles and great races, and i know you were wanting to keep the momentum going – i can’t blame you! but you probably just didn’t get enough rest/time off in between. it certainly seems like “everyone else” only takes 1-2 weeks off after a marathon, so why can’t i?

    enjoy a little break – hopefully you won’t need to take 4-5 weeks COMPLETELY off like i did in order to get your mind back in the game :)

    i am also concerned for marlene – she’s had some stellar training/racing and not much of a break! i don’t want to be the debbie downer but i also don’t want people to end up in a huge rut like i did for a year and a half! (!!! such a long time to not be jiving with running)

    anyway, congrats on making this mature but difficult decision. there’s more to life than running marathons every season! enjoy a break and get ready to slaughter a spring ‘thon, or whenever your next one may be.

  13. katie September 7, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    I’m going to chime in with another “GOOD FOR YOU.” I’m glad you are recognizing the signs of your own burnout. Take time and let your brain recover from this year.

  14. Rebecca September 7, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    I respect you for having the courage to recognize your slump. A lot of us just keep going even when we feel burned out because we are afraid of what people will think.
    I went through this in the spring. I backed out of two races and started running trails aimlessly. When it was time to train for a fall marathon I had a pep in my step again and the excitement that I’d been missing.
    Have fun running for fun!

  15. Marie @ Chocolate and Wine September 7, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    You’re an amazing runner whether you have a bib number on or not. This might be the spark you are missing!! Good luck .. I’m gunnin’ for ya!!

    xo Marie
    Chocolate & Wine

  16. Amy September 7, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Good,but hard choice! I had to make it this spring with the Big Sur marathon due to a nagging IT band and burnout. I was very upset after making the call, but it was the right choice. I gave myself time to heal, found joy in trail running, group fun runs etc. Now I’m mid fall marathon training and crushing my workouts. Have fun running!

  17. Kerry September 7, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    I know how hard of a decision this was for you. I have some wonderful trails with your name on them in Marin. Join me anytime :)

  18. Laura September 7, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Awesome…seriously. The best thing I did was not running a marathon this fall and I don’t regret it all. I will be back to train for a spring marathon but running shorter distances this summer has been bliss.

  19. Angela @ MyPinkyToes September 7, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    I definitely think that you are doing the right thing! It’s hard to try your best at something when you just aren’t feeling it and when you can’t give 100%. You have already accomplished so much this year, and you are still an inspiring runner, even if you aren’t doing anymore marathons! I think it’s so admirable that you are still going to be running a lot without a training plan. I am definitely struggling with finding my running groove without having a race on the calendar.

  20. Alyssa September 7, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    I think you are smart, and I’ve been going through the same thing — hearing your decision makes me feel better about mine. Enjoy your break!!! (Spinning is the best!!)

  21. Jess September 7, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    You could have taken the words out of my mouth! I decided to complete mine for fun (a couple more halves) and then totally back off. I am even considering not training for a spring race at
    all, and just trying to regain that running for fun mindset.

    I’ve been mentally beating myself up for not having good runs lately, and feeling like a “fake” runner. Thanks for putting this out there and reminding me that this can happen even to the best of us, and that i’m not alone.

  22. Cate September 7, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    I definitely think you’re making the right decision. I would be SO incredibly burned out if I had done all the marathons you’ve done this year! You’re right, 2011 has been awesome for you between Boston, Big Sur, Lululemon, your new job, and everything else!

    Have fun spinning/TRXing/trail running/cycling… there will ALWAYS be more marathons to run!

  23. Jana September 7, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    That is the great thing about marathons; there is always another one around the corner. If not Portland this year, you have so many more to choose from when the urge arises. Go out and have some fun! And ping me for those trail runs!

  24. Lauren @ Sassy Molassy September 7, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Aaron, that’s a tough decision to make, but good for you. I know that I’ve felt that way this summer. I want to do so much all the time (hot yoga, boot camp, running, hiking, cycling) but then I’m like “wait, how am I going to fit in all these miles on my plan?” Luckily, I’ve balanced it pretty well, but it’s not easy and you have been go go going for a long time. Your body, mind and husband I’m sure will appreciate a little time to enjoy life and whatever exercise you choose.

  25. Jaime September 7, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    I think that sounds like an awesome plan! I could tell from reading your recent posts that something didn’t seem quite right. Good luck and enjoy running for running.

  26. Marilynn September 7, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Very hard decision to make but admire you for your wisdom – you are taking care of your passion by not overworking it!

  27. Lynette September 7, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    So proud of you for making this difficult decision. I know you love running marathons, but most of all you love RUNNING! You have also become quite the trail runner, cycler and overall athlete. I’m so glad that you are giving yourself permission to enjoy all those other things! As I’ve said many, many times…you never cease to amaze me! Could a Mom be any prouder?? I think NOT!

  28. Kristy@RunTheLongRoad September 7, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    definitely a good idea if you feel you need it. training for a marathon when your heart is not in it is NOT fun. i’ve been training for back-to-back marathons too and after sunday (race day), i’m taking a break.

    enjoy all your “fun runs”!!!

  29. Kristine @ Running on Hungry September 7, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    I think that while that decision had to have been extremely tough, it’s the right idea for you if that’s the way you’ve been feeling.

    Let’s run again (for fun!) together soon! Or take a spin class or TRX! :)

  30. Petra September 7, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Dear Aron – I am SO sorry for the long comment absence but this post really rang a chord in me. I was amazed (and am still amazed) at all you have done since Boston but this sounds like a really smart decision. I know from my own experience that when the fire goes out, and stays out, for a while, you need to make a different move and try something different. you can’t keep banging your head against the wall – you’ll have a miserable time. Go out there and have some fun – and give yourself a chance to really focus on your new job as well. Marathons will still be here!

  31. Audrey September 7, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    What? You’re not letting anyone down! Trust me, I totally understand and support your decision. That’s why I took practically all of 2010 off from running. I do feel bad that I didn’t embrace other things during my break from running but it’s OK. And the only reason I’ve been able to get back into it this year (and wow, that has been a loooooong struggle) was because I was so excited about running NYC. I’m sure this was a super tough decision but I do think it’s the right one. No need to half-ass any marathon much less a destination one!

    Enjoy the non-marathon-training season!!! :)

  32. kim September 7, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    You are absolutely making the right decision and I’m proud of you for being able to step back and do this for your mind and body!

  33. Beth @ Boston2Berkeley September 7, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    We all obviously recognize what a hard decision this is to make, but congratulation to you for doing exactly what’s right for YOU! I think nearly every runner has a story about running themselves right into an injury or a burnout because they ignored the signs. I was disappointed to give up on my half marathon goal for this summer when I hurt my knee, but sometimes taking a break from the stuff you love just makes you that much more excited to come back to it! Plus Cate’s right, there will always be more marathons!

    I’m really excited for the Walnut Festival Run this weekend! I might even hit up Salutation Nation at Civic Park on Saturday and make it a Walnut Creek weekend :) Good luck with everything!

  34. Katherine September 7, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    I almost had a feeling this was coming, and I was worried. With all your posts about feeling off and not quite having as much fun as you’ve had in the past, I think it was bound to happen. I went through a little burnout this year, which not only had to do with training, but also my personal life. Everything was just too much, so I took a huge chunk of time off being on a schedule. I thought I’d wait to train for my 2012 half marathons, but surely enough, the break was so good to me that I decided to sign up for a fall half. You may just need to take some time to explore other athletic outlets, try new things, and rediscover the love of running. I know I suffered some MAJOR burnout as a college swimmer, so I totally get where you’re coming from. For the record, we would have a pretty good break usually in the spring after a championship meet, then again in the summer, and then another in the fall. So much constant training really wears you down. I’m glad you’re in tune with your body and mind enough to know when to stop.

  35. Fancy Nancy September 7, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    It sounds like you have made the best decision for you right now! Nothing is worse than pushing through a training cycle without your heart in it. You’ll find the fun in it again! There is no doubt that you are still going to be an amazing runner!

  36. Nelly September 7, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    I know it was a tough decision to make, but like Lindsay’s comment above I think it’s the right call. It just seemed like your heart wasn’t in marathon training for Portland. I’ve always said that unless you are running for a team or something that running should be fun and if its not then it’s time for a break.

    It doesn’t surprise me that you are a little burned out – you basically reached the top of the mountain with doing Boston Marathon in April, and after that it’s kind of like – what’s next? Probably hard to get motivated after doing that marathon. And you’ve also had a lot of life changes going on, which puts running on the backburner.

    Anyways, I would just run for fun, and see where it takes you. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself thinking that you want to run a marathon. Just see where being on a whim takes you.

  37. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair September 7, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Sounds like this was definitely the right choice for you! Portland will be there next year and the year after that. Your mental sanity is more important right now. Especially with the craziness of starting a new job!

  38. Kelly September 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    I cannot imagine what being in a perpetual state of marathon training does to you, both mentally and physically. I think you’re being smart – you’ve got a TON going on and definitely need to keep your sanity. Running just for fun without any pressure sounds like the perfect solution. Good luck, Aron :)

  39. Sarah Kay Hoffman September 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    Good for you! I recently made many of those same decisions. It is hard….really hard. But in the end, you must do what is right for you….what feels right.

  40. Fair Weather Runner September 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    good for you, i had to do that this spring. i was struggling through forcing myself to train for a marathon when my heart wasn’t in it. i took a break and am now loving marathon training again! it’s worth it. and i can’t imagine you are honestly letting anyone down :) enjoy the run!

  41. Allison September 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Nothing wrong with a break at all.

    FWIW, I took a solid 5-year break from running when I started having babies. ;) Just wasn’t feeling it after I had my second one.

    You’ll come back ready. Enjoy your training break!

  42. sarah September 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    I know it’s hard to take a break from marathoning but you should be proud of the races you’ve already done this year. In addition, you have a lot on your plate, and I’m certain that when you return to a marathon, you’ll be fresh, sharp, and sooooooo speedy!!

  43. Karyn September 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    very smart despite feeling sad about it. time to regroup and get that spark back :)

  44. Sima September 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Really appreciated reading this, I admire your honesty…you are human after all! Celebrate your all your other 2011 successes. You have so many to choose from :) See you at run club!

  45. Kristen (inspiredbydooce) September 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Aw- I’m sorry it had to come to this (for your sake) but I’m glad you were able to find the right decision for you. I hope you feel lighter already and that your next run is joyful!

  46. Christine September 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    I think you are doing the right thing. At the end of the day, we wanna have fun and enjoy running. Free running will spike the spark and you will come back even stronger and more hungry next year! :)

  47. Jamie September 7, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Good for you recognizing you need a break! It’s tough to not go through with I and just get it done. I myself have been struggling this year with training burnout/trying to do too much so I know how you feel!

  48. Rachel September 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    2011 has been a huge year for you, and even with several months to go you’ve accomplished so much! i can imagine how difficult the decision was, but i can also imagine the relief it brought you. there will be other races, other marathons. sometimes a break from a schedule is exactly what you need to come back feeling stronger and more motivated. and in the meantime, you can enjoy running for the sake of running, and try new things, too! kudos to you for being honest and listening to your heart : )

  49. Julia September 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Hi Aron! I am a long time runner, yet brand new blogger. I find your blog to be incredibly inspiring, so I want to thank you for sharing your running experiences and stories to all.

    With regard to your recent decision on the Portland Marathon, I want to commend you on taking this break in running. I have also suffered from burnout, when I did not recognize the need for a pause and renewal in running motivation. The result is a long hiatus from running due to the leftover sour taste of burnout. It’s awesome that you were able to recognize it before it got to that point!

    Happy running!

  50. The Blonde September 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    A good, healthy, and wise decision. I completely respect you for it. It’s definitely a hard decision to make, but one that sometimes needs to be made. I firmly believe in the need to have seasons of running. A season to train. A season to race. A season to build. A season to run for fun! This is a sport we LOVE, so we should love doing it. If that means taking a break from a training cycle, then so be it. I think you will come back more refreshed than ever! A renewed passion and love for running! Enjoy your time to fun run!

  51. Jess September 7, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    This is such a good decision. Honestly, I’ve wondered how you manage to race as often as you do. Just enjoy some good, slow running. Build your base for a couple months for your next race.

  52. Amanda September 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    While I can’t lie and say I won’t be sad you won’t be there too, I am glad you are making a decision that brings you peace. Life is too short to be running around doing things that make you feel crappy. :)

  53. AR September 7, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    As someone who is on the fence about bailing from my fall marathon, its actually kind of a relief to see someone else expressing similar thoughts. If you know what I mean. It’s never an easy decision, but sometimes it needs to be made.

  54. Jenny Yew September 7, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    This is my first time commenting. You know I always read your blog. I am totally struggling too right now and reading your post made me feel so much better. Maybe I am feeling complacent after BQing in July but honestly I just don’t feel like I want to train anymore and just like you I am feeling totally burnt out. I want to love running like I used to. I want to do it because I want to….not because I feel guilty. I hope we both find the passion and drive we used to. And if not…….I hope we find something else we love to do! Thanks for the post. It really meant alot to me.

  55. Ana-Maria September 8, 2011 at 4:51 am #

    Good decision, Aron! I confess that I was not predicting a good race for you, given your posts. Too much going on. Recharge your batteries, there will be plenty of other races!

  56. Jake September 8, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    I think it’s wise to pass on a marathon if your heart isn’t into it. Feeling burnt out could lead to injuries during the race, a total disillusionment from running or many other things. It is great that you could take stock and make a decision.

  57. Heather @ Dietitian on the Run September 8, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    So smart, so true to YOU and a well-deserved ‘break’! Take this time and soak it in, the races aren’t going anywhere, but these times to just slow down and ENJOY whatever it is that’s going on around seem to fly by too quickly :)

  58. Krissy September 8, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    I have really enjoyed your blog since finding it a few weeks ago. It has motivated me a lot to get back into running after not doing it for 2 years (thru pregnancy and first year with a baby). I ran a half marathon a few years ago and then “trained” for the Disney marathon a few months later. I wasn’t committed to doing what was necessary and ended up backing out 2 or 3 weeks before the race. I was really down on myself and pretty much gave up the idea that I was capable of ever doing a marathon. Now that I am getting back into running I have a sprint tri on the calendar and a half marathon in the next 1.5 months. I am scared to sign up for another full….since I backed out of the last one. I am glad to read this post….it makes me think it is ok to accept that sometimes you just need to back down. That doesn’t mean you can’t do another. Maybe I can still do a full in the future? Thanks for the honest post!

  59. Morgan September 8, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    My coach and I had a big talk recently about feeling burnt out (just read my most recent post) and just like in life, so in running, at times you just get burnt out. The best thing to do in that scenario is to take a step back and find a new direction. Sounds like you did just that and made the best decision. You can’t do it all, life happens. Enjoy the art of just running for the joy of it this fall! I bet it’ll be the best fall you’ve had yet! Big hugs girl!

  60. Rosa - Fitness, Food, Fulfilled September 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    It’s better you recognize the burn out now than right before the race or become injured during. You’re not letting anyone down, but giving your body and mind a break. There’s no “sorry” in taking care of yourself.

  61. Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef September 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    what a smart idea! take a rest, take a break and get back into it when you’re ready. :)

  62. Layla September 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Whoa, 62 comments. I’m sure I’m repeating what everyone said, but I’m proud of you for making this decision. You have had quite the year, and it takes a lot of courage and maturity to realize when a re-evaluation is necessary.

    What you didn’t mention in this post is that you also spend a lot of time helping other runners. SFM, lululemon, Walnut Creek Run, various meet-ups, and this blog of yours — they’re rewarding, but they also add to your busy schedule. You’ve got a LOT going on!! I’m tired just thinking about it!

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