Cause vs Ego
Cause vs Ego
Ego - noun
A person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance
"Your ego is your conscious mind, the part of your identity that you consider your "self." If you say you have a "big ego," then you are saying he is too full of himself." - vocabulary.com
In 2022, I found myself running for ego far too often. This led me to multiple injuries, a roller coaster of emotion, and ultimately, a feeling of failure more often than otherwise.
Early in 2022, I was chosen to represent athletic brands that aligned with me. They were brands that I was already wearing or repping, but when it became official, I put a lot of extra pressure on myself to perform at the highest level possible. I wanted to be known within those brands. I wanted to be part of the exclusive club within those brands, and I allowed that desire to fuel my training.
I got covid in January of 2022. I ran through it, nearly every day, pushing myself and thinking, "if I can run through covid, nothing can stop me."
In February, during my first race of the year, Louisville Lovin' the Hills, I aimed to podium finish. I had just recovered from covid fully a few days prior. My legs and lungs weren't quite where they needed to be, but I was running my home trails and was confident in my ability to run hard and finish strong. 5 miles into the 15 mile race, I strained my hamstring. I felt one of the muscles snap like a rubber band under my skin and limped back to the start/finish area at mile 6, instead of finishing the race.
I took two weeks off, then began training again in March. My next race was 5 weeks away, a 100 mile trail race in the North Georgia mountains. I pushed hard in March to get my back legs and lungs back to where they were prior to covid in January, and probably pushed too hard. I did manage to train through aches and pains, but avoid sickness and injury, but I over-trained in mileage and went into that race tired.
I completed 56 miles at Endurance Hunter 100 before calling it quits. Ultimately, I found myself at a point of simply not being able to run and I allowed my yearning for a warm bed and the touch of my loved one to win over my desire to finish the race. I punished myself the next day by running a hill workout HARD. I told myself it felt good but knew deep down that I should have been resting instead. I continued running, and training, through the month of April, but made the decision to let go of the following race in June.
Ultimately, that decision was a good one because I suffered an avulsion fracture to my right ankle early in May. I was with some friends, doing a long, night trail run, and once again exerting more intensity than I should have been. 10 or 11 miles in, I stepped between two rocks and part of the ligaments "popped off" the front of my right foot. Kelly urged me to stop, and he would come back and pick me up at the nearest road, but instead, I asked to borrow Doug's trekking poles and limped back the remainder of the 5-6 miles to where we began. I took 4 weeks off after this injury.
Early in June, I did a couple short to mid-range test runs. I bought a pair of trekking poles. Then I helped mark the War Hammer 100 course, completing about 25 miles of the course over 2 days. 4 days later, I paced Ashley to a 50k PR there. Overall, the ankle responded fairly well, but deep down, I knew I shouldn't have been logging those long miles on it. I took most of the rest of June off.
In July, I buckled down and began training for Breaks Ultra in September, which would then lead me to No Business 100 in October. My July and August training went well, but I was using too much intensity in nearly all of my workouts and runs. The minor left knee problem that had been a nuisance, off and on for about a year, was growing more present. But I wasn't listening. I was focused on Breaks and No Business and I was pushing my body hard in hopes to perform well at both events.
I made it to Breaks injury free, but definitely not pain free. I ran extremely well through the first half of the race, managing my effort, but pushing simultaneously. I stayed in the top 3-5 spots through the first 30+ miles of the race. Unfortunately, around mile 25, I took a wrong step and rolled my ankle hard. It hurt bad, but it seemed to be just a minor sprain if that. I pushed onward. A few miles later, I found myself coming down the most difficult 4 mile downhill section of the race. My ankle wasn't having it and I was relying heavily on my bad left knee. By the time I got to the bottom, my knee and ankle were both torn up, but with only 13 miles left to go, there was no chance of throwing in the towel. I finished Breaks, falling from 2nd to 10th overall, but did so in intense pain. The ankle quickly took a back seat to the knee, and I wasn't able to bend my left leg for nearly 48 hours post-race.
I made the decision to cancel my trip to No Business 100 and called my doc instead.
"Extreme patella tendinitis and possible arthritis." So that's why my knee had been feeling like metal grinding on metal at Breaks. It was quite literally my bones scraping together as I moved down the mountain at Breaks. I'm 37. Arthritis at my age, at any age, is a game changer. And so, my depression began...
Entering 2023, my mantra became "Easy Does It." Don't run so hard the intensity causes injury. Run easy and allow your body to adapt. Don't force things due to ego. Run for cause and good things will happen.
We may only be 14 days into 2023, but this mindset shift has been huge. The times in which I've felt most successful, as a runner and human, are the times I've moved with peace and ease in every step. I have slowed my pace way down this year. I've stopped to take pictures. I've recited some of my poetry aloud while running. I've danced in the rain and sloshed through calf high puddles. I've seen darkness turn to light. I've smiled more than I've frowned and slowed down when my body wanted to.
I know that if I continue to force things, in running and life, something will burst from the pressure and intensity. With ease, I can chip away at my goals, instead of needing them to happen immediately.
I'm running for cause this year, instead of ego. It's no longer about me. It's about the causes closest to me. So far this year, the causes are No Stigmas Mental Health Equality, Vegan Powered Athlete, and Bluegrass VegFest 2023.
I'm running for mental health. I'm running to speak out about my stressors, anxieties, and depression. I'm running to remind everyone that suicide is preventable.
I'm running as an advocate for the animals. I'm running as a voice for the voiceless and to spread the message of veganism and its benefits to health, climate, and ethical treatment of animals.
I'm running for the greater good of what I believe to be important in life. Not winning races. Not becoming a high-level athlete. Not for a brand or recognition. Not for ego. I'm running for cause. Because it feels good to do good. And I'm proud to have shifted my perspective from what it was, to what it is.
If you would like to learn more about the causes for which I'm running, please check out my other blog posts in the "Blog" section of this website. If you would like to donate to my No Stigmas Chicago Marathon journey, there is a link within that blog post where you can do so.
Thanks for reading. Have a blessed day and take care.