Middletown Athletic Club

(serving the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend, Delaware Running Community since 2002)

"That's the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is."  - Kara Goucher

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  • Thoughts on the Run - "When You Know You Shouldn't Go" - Andy Shearer

Thoughts on the Run - "When You Know You Shouldn't Go" - Andy Shearer

February 05, 2024 3:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

“I really shouldn’t be here”.  I kept uttering this to myself over and over again.  And to be honest, for once I was right.  I should not have been there in that mental state.

Where is there?  ‘There’ was the 2024 USA Track & Field Cross Country Championships.  There were seven races in one day, including junior nationals, the men’s & women’s open nationals (the races that select the U.S. representatives for the World Cross Country Championships), an all-comer’s race, and of course, the Master’s Championship (aka Geezer Nationals, or as one of my teammates put it, the race for team Advil).

The location was Richmond, VA, for a second straight year.  I ran in the 2023 championship meet and pleasantly surprised myself over the relatively flat 8k course.  The course was four loops, each being 2,000 meters (aka slightly boring after the 2nd circuit).  And the 2024 event was coooooooold.  Temps were close to 36 with wind chills closer to 20.

“I’m not ready to do this”.  And about 3,000 meters into it, I proved myself right.  A couple of my faster friends had already dropped out, and a few others were actually within spitting distance.  But in my mind, I shouldn’t have started in the first place.  To be honest, it wasn’t a completely unpleasant race, but it was a CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT.  Of everyone over the age of 40, I placed 140th out of about 170 finishers. 

Over the past year, I have struggled with consistent, pain-free running.  I’ve also struggled a bit with confidence and desire.  But mostly, I’ve just felt blah about the whole racing thing.  My routine of running 6 days a week just 20 years ago has morphed into three or four runs a week, two cycling days and two rowing machine days. 

As Master’s folks commiserate before race-time, conversation almost always runs through ‘what hurts on you these days?’.  Some of us lay it on thick and some of us downplay the ouchies and boo boos.  Some of us have given up completely and some of us are in denial.  And some of us are running like we’re 30 or 40 years younger. 

My stock response to all of this is usually ‘yeah but we’re still doing it’.  Denial.  If I have to be honest, I didn’t want to just be ‘still doing it’.  My friend Matt and I had this discussion just before the race.  His suggestion was spot-on.  He reminded me that every few years, no matter what age group you are in, you need to hit re-set and re-establish your ‘why’.  It is inevitable, even for the speediest among us.

So on a day that my mantra was ‘I really shouldn’t be here’, I probably needed to rephrase it a bit and say ‘I’m okay with not being able to run even what I ran last year, but I’m here’.  I might not have been race-ready, but after 45 years of running, I’m still a runner.  And we all need to remind ourselves of that every so often.  Hit re-set as you head out the door.


I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

Middletown Athletic Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 99 Willow Grove Mill Drive, Middletown, DE 19709

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