BB King said it best (well, actually he sang it…) “The Thrill is Gone. I can see it in your eyes. I can hear it in your sighs.”. Thrill? What thrill?!
Patriot’s Day (the 3rd Monday in April), is a day celebrated by six states in New England, commemorating the first battle(s) of the American Revolution. Odd that Montana doesn’t celebrate that one, eh. Ground Zero, however, is Boston, Mass with the granddaddy of all celebrations, the Boston Marathon.
This year’s Boston race was the 126th annual event. I have raced in three of them and attended four others as a spectator. I love my Boston memories, was pleased with my performances (except for the year I dropped out) and see it as one of several pinnacles in my racing career. But… the thrill is gone.
As is the usual, I get a lot of calls from my running buds and R.B.s on and near Boston race day. One of the communiques stated, ‘it’s the only day of the year I wish I was still running marathons.’ To which I replied ‘Oddly, this year, not I.’. In year’s past I agreed with that sentiment. I mean, I know of few if any marathon runners who don’t desire to meet the qualifying standards to run the Boston race (yes, generally speaking, you need to qualify to run Boston by running another marathon under a certain time, based on your age).
In year’s past, I’d get that sense of really wanting to be a part of the day, even toeing the line and competing with the best and fastest in the world. I gave up marathon training 15+ years ago and don’t really miss it. But on certain days (Patriot’s Day), I used to get the sense of desire and longing to be there again. But not this year. Not. One. Bit.
Most runners I know, and especially the long haul runners, evolve over time. Research has shown that the average runner takes 6-8 years to reach a peak before performances start to plateau or even taper off. This time frame can be impacted by varying training stimuli, changing race focus, improving diet, rest, and other outside impacts (quit your job?). But time catches up and we all hit the other side slope in performance and desire.
So if I have lost the thrill, does that mean my running days are done? Oh heaven’s no! There are as many racing challenges to be had as there are makes and models of running shoes, socks and energy replacement foods. Meaning… lots! On road, off road, tracks, trails, hills, flats, team events, solo endurance races, theme events, specialty challenges, destination runs, mud runs, spartan runs, beach runs, odd distances (what the heck is a 9k), multi-sport events, biathlons, duathlons, triathlons, multi-stage races… I think you get my drift.
I can’t choke down one more ‘flat and fast’ 5k, nor do I have the stomach to train 60 miles a week for four months to cobble together a marathon. I just don’t. But I DO love running and racing still. And there are tons of options for me. Guess I should go figure out what a 9k is.
If you are starting to get the ‘thrill is gone’ sense about running whatever it is you have been regularly running, it’s okay. It doesn’t make you any less of a runner. It just means it’s time to evolve into another kind of runner, and let that challenge set you free. I’ve run 29 marathons; I don’t need #30. What is it that you feel the need to move on from?
“The thrill is gone…” Sing it BB!
I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails.