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  • Interesting article. I am currently dealing with an injury that has taken my running down to a walking routine. As I try to keep some miles in each day I wonder what type of racing I would target after healing. Will it be to become faster at a 5K or will it be long easy runs and running marathons to finish comfortably versus running for a particle time.
    New phase of my life coming up as I will be retiring next month. Look at the bike in the shed that has sat there far too long. Time to pump up the tires and get into biking? Maybe. Life is an adventure meant to be enjoyed. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Funny how it sometimes takes an injury to get us to reexamine our goals and priorities, when even without the injury it might be a good thing to do so. I’ve had a lot of similar thoughts to you but somehow always come back to distance running (and increasingly long), but with the 100 accomplished there’s definitely a void.

  • Great run-down! I approve wholeheartedly FWIW! In the spirit of moderation, I’m a fan of running for the sake of running.

  • I’ve known for a while that continually focusing in working out leads to procrastination in many areas if my life.. I feel like I am addicted to running and biking and staying in shape..recently ran pgh marathon and thought I might find some type of relief after training for so long and finishing well..but I did make a Boston qualifying time and am seriously considering registering.. This would lead to another year if selfishness and procrastination..needless to say I am leaning towards going for it..

    1. Andy, what I did for Boston was train just hard enough to finish. I had worked so hard at getting there, that it felt like getting to run it was my reward, and I should relax and enjoy it. In hindsight I’m not sure that was the best decision (I really wished I was in PR shape once I got there among so many dedicated and fast runners), but it’s an option.
      Congrats on qualifying!

  • Thank you so much for this post. I needed a reminder that running is a cycle that can ebb and flow. I was in great shape last summer – ran my first 50K and later ran a marathon PR in the fall. Then I moved across the country, went back to school full time, and took a really difficult part-time job to pay for school. Needless to say my running is not where I feel like it *should* be. Thanks for the reminder that we can achieve our A,B, and C goals (and more), in running and life. 🙂

    1. Janet, what I’m gradually coming to accept is that the ebb and flow happens not just with running or any other single activity, but that we go through “seasons” of life and that in some of them, rest is the order of the day. I’ve realized a few years ago with running that I can’t force it, but I’m only just starting to be okay with the same in the rest of my life.

  • Hi Matt~ I started following you not too long ago because I’m gearing up to run my first full marathon this November in Savannah (R&R). I’ve run a half marathon but that’s before I changed my diet. I’m a huge fan of Dr. Douglas Graham. I teach people how to transition into a high-fruit lifestyle with my Fruit Til Five™ program. I’m determined to run this marathon on fruit, veggies, nuts, and seeds. I’m 44, not a great runner, but I love the satisfaction of a good, powerful run. Thanks for this great blog post, for keeping it real, honest, and transparent. Asheville is my hometown. Tell the Blue Ridge hello for me.

    1. Neat! Fruit Til Five sounds a lot like what we’ve been doing … though we’ve found that dinner is often the BEST time to do a fruit meal, for not having to cook/clean/cajole our son to eat his dinner. 🙂

  • I’ve always liked your prospective on things. I agree that there is transition from one thing to another which allows for us to recover from whatever we have endured for sometime. For you the 100 miler for me training for the NYC Marathon 2 years in a row and then following up with some other challenging runs during the early spring. Over the past few weeks I’ve been “resting” and feeling guilty about it especially since I haven’t moved into the next “project” phase yet. I have to admit that not running on an almost daily basis adds some guilt and confusion to my mind but I am working on getting over that.
    The best take away from your article is that you have recognized that down time and family time is important and you are smart enough to enjoy the good things in life while balancing work. Thanks again for the post…It has made me think about what’s next for me.

  • The timing on this is perfect. I haven’t run at all this winter and have procrastinated starting up again even though it’s something I enjoy. While I’m nowhere near your level, it’s encouraging to learn that you’re going through your own reboot as well. And if you’re doing it, then I should too. Thanks, Matt!

  • Hmmm… not clear if you’ve been injured or just so busy that your running mileage has suffered?
    Whichever, it makes me wonder about a blogger’s brand.
    If by injury or lack of interest, you no longer were an “athlete”, would you tweak this site’s (and your) brand. What about if you decided to become carnivorous again? What would happen here then?
    These are rhetorical questions, Matt, but I’ve wrestled with them myself, and find it interesting to think about what a blogger w/ a large following would do if his/her initial value proposition changed.
    Anyway, may you get to Boston, if that’s still the goal.

    1. Hey Joe, always good to hear from you! No injuries; I’ve just been so busy with other things that running has taken a back seat. I’ve made sure to run now and then, just nowhere near my mileage from last year.
      Hmm, if I were to stop running … I’m sure I’d find another sport, and I could write about that. Or if I stopped doing all sports, I could have guest posters or even hire other writers to help out.
      If I were to stop being vegan … well, if I just went back to vegetarian, that’d still be “no meat,” so okay there. But if I stopped being even vegetarian, it would seem wrong for me to still write a blog with this name. I could sell it, I suppose. Or I could just stop updating, make a static homepage and organize the articles more nicely, and present it as a big resource guide.
      Good questions. Thankfully, not ones I anticipate having to answer in real life!

  • Thanks for this awesome post, Matt – really needed that today. It’s a weird/discomforting feeling when you go out for a run after taking some time off (from marathon or half marathon training) and realizing you “lost” what you worked so hard to train for. But we all have good days and bad days.. reasons to train and reasons to rest. Have to embrace that I can’t give every single aspect of my life 100% at all times. New hobbies can replace old, other things become a priority, etc. I will definitely have to check out the 12-Week Year!

    1. Thanks Lauren; I’m glad this post helped you! Yeah, 12-Week Year is great. After many, many 1-year goal-setting sessions, it’s been fun to shift to a shorter-term mindset. I still have a 3-year vision for the future that I try to read every day, and then think of the 12-week goals as stepping stones.

  • I appreciate your transparency! As a coach and having read a few of your pieces, I submit to you that your next ‘obsession’ will most likely be whatever leads you to add value to others. It appears to me that this is what got you started down the path of NMA. My suggestion is to create your life’s PURPOSE, if you haven’t already. Whatever comes your way will be an simple choice to make whether you dedicate time and energy to it based on whether it supports your PURPOSE.
    Best wishes!

  • You are always so inspiring. I love your honesty and ability to reflect. Introspection with flair and structure is quite refreshing.
    Thanks Matt, always a great read.

  • This is a great post! I’d rather hear how someone is taking control of their life than frantic drama any day. Love that you cleared out your procrastination corner of life and you admitted it took four months- inspiring me to do the same. Thanks for writing and good luck with your goals. 🙂

  • Yet another great post, thank you. I’ve been feeling frustrated about my general lack of enthusiasm for running lately. I’ve just been happier with other ways to exercise. I’m pretty sure it’s my inner self telling me to take a break.
    I’d love to hear about your raw eating experiments. I’ve been doing a ton of reading and I’m slowly adding more raw foods to my diet. This wouldn’t be a permanent change by any means, but summer is a good time to see how I do.
    Thank you for helping so many of us live better lives!

  • I can totally relate to a lot of this. I’ve recently been undergoing some major overhauls, centered around productivity. I highly recommend you check out the KanBan system I posted about it here: http://goo.gl/pIocZ0 It has completely transformed my work and personal life. I get more done, I’m less stressed and have more time to spend with family – without always feeling like there is some work related thing I need to be working on.
    Also, good luck on your raw food venture. It worked well for me for a couple of years, but ultimately I decided it wasn’t something I wanted to keep long term. Mainly because I felt like it isolated me from relationships with people. But, I will say it put me on a course for better health choices and overall increased healthfulness.
    Also, check out http://www.cleanseamerica.com/ Paul runs regular cleanses and it’s a great way to jump start into raw foods.

    1. Interesting! KanBan seems like a visual representation of Getting Things Done, which itself helped me tremendously with organization once I got past all the rules and adapted it to work for me. What I do now seems like KanBan within Evernote — having the to-do list broken into several lists, like “waiting for,” “delegated,” etc.

  • Hi there, I just wanted to say that I really like the way you write on your blog… it’s just very clear and comfortable and personable and easy to read at the same time 🙂 Good luck with whatever is next!

  • Don’t focus so much on the end result, but more the process of running or being the moment. I’m 49, run trails 8-12mi almost daily. Not cause I love running so much, cause I don’t like calling myself a runner, and I tell people that. Cause I love being on the trails, gaining elevation, being out of my comfort zone. It’s hot here now in California, 90 degrees, but I still go. I just my way of thinking and adjust the goal for the day. Go “inside” before you can work on the outside. Work the process! Be present.

    1. Gabriel, I’ve tried pretty hard to focus on running for its own sake, and still haven’t really found much success without a compelling goal. My run streak (of 75 days or so, two summers ago) was the closest I’ve been, but even that was a sort of goal. But I haven’t given up on running just to run — the “idea” appeals to me; it just hasn’t worked in practice.

  • Hey Matt, good for you! I had hoped some mindshift like this would happen to you. I remember you once wrote that you’re a lifelong selfhelp junkie, and I clearly remember your Turning Pro post, and it always left me feeling a bit worried for you for taking on too much. I think you’re truly a fine person, with or without your big goals.

    1. Thanks Brent! I’m hesitant to say I’ve undergone a mindshift, though … so far this feels more like a little break in the action before a new, exciting goal comes along and seduces me. But I don’t recall ever being so content with just being, so who knows …
      You’re definitely not the only one who had that reaction to the Turning Pro post. I got several concerned emails. 🙂

  • Excellent post and ridiculously good timing for me and what I’m thinking about. Still trying to work out though whether it’s better to sequence things as you say (A, B, C, then A+ etc) or in parallel. Both can be stressful! Anyway, I’ve got a hardcore year ahead of me but will start planning my downtime as well! Thanks again.

    1. Thanks Bill, glad the timing was good for you! I’ve learned about myself that the series approach is definitely better than the parallel one for me — too often I get really inspired about 3 or 4 goals at once, and don’t get anywhere with any of them because I lose focus, get overwhelmed, or just forget. But I think this answer varies from person to person — how about trying both approaches, a few months apart, and paying attention to how each feels and which yields results?

  • I would love to hear more on how you went about eliminating procrastination from your life. I have recently realized that I need to tackle my procrastination problem, but I’m lost on where to start which is leading to more procrastination. And the cycle continues. Your experience could help me or others break out of the procrastination cycle.
    Thanks for this post. It inspires me to read about someone overcoming something I am struggling with. Keep writing about whatever you do and you will find people who find it inspiring.

    1. Hey Eric. You know, I didn’t really use any strategies to fix procrastination — it was more just getting clarity (and getting fed up as a result), and feeling really motivated to go catch up with everything I’d gotten behind on. In the process I learned to recognize when I procrastinate, and almost automatically go into action mode when I do catch myself. It’s not that I never procrastinate anymore; I just have lower tolerance for it.
      If brute force isn’t working for you, check out Zen Habits — Leo has a lot of stuff about beating procrastination with a mindfulness approach.

  • Really enjoyed this post because it’s something I’ve wrestled with – and learned to accept within me – as well.
    The conclusion that I often come to is that since I’ve taken up running and changed my diet, the “okay” version of me is worlds better than the “best” version of me from half a decade ago. I’m still on my own journey, but I’m much fitter, healthier and happier than I used to be. I may feel like I can still get better in a lot of areas, but I’m okay with where this journey has taken me so far.

    1. That’s a really great point, PJ, and one I hadn’t thought of. It’s very easy to compare with our picture of our ideal selves (or other people we envy), but rarely do we take time to compare to our former selves (except when it’s to wish we were running as much as they did!) and see how far we’ve come.

  • Really, really great post. I’m so happy for you. And I can definitely relate – I’m a very all-or-nothing person and I procrastinate if I don’t feel like I can give something 110% quite yet. Thanks for sharing your story and perspective!

    1. Me too, Janelle. All-or-nothing, which is a blessing and a curse. Recognizing it and making the most of the strengths is a big step though! Best of luck.

  • My first run in 27 years (due to injury). Running 30 seconds and walking 2 minutes. Repeat 10 times.
    I am running again 😀

  • Great Post! I was having trouble accepting that I’m not ‘training as well as I should be’, for the past few months, but I have a 6 month old daughter who is my priority right now. I’ve signed up for some sprint Tri’s this summer and I’m going to accept that these are fitness placeholders and I will get in good enough shape to finish them, and I will not end up on a podium this year.
    This is what I really needed to hear right now. 🙂
    And for what it’s worth I”d love a post on TRE and your experience with it.
    Thank you Matt!

  • I enjoyed reading your blog today. It definitely struck a chord with me…. as today I am experiencing a “peace-filled day”. And as you have found out yourself, these moments are passing. So we must appreciate them. It’s a state of being OK without being excited or depressed. Just “coasting” if you will. Don’t get me wrong – we all LOOOOOVE those times of excitement and extreme joy. It’s absolutely addicting! But we also know that with them comes the “drop” afterwards….. and those can be hard to take. Especially if they come too frequently.
    My running has been MUCH more sporadic than yours. Sometimes I ask myself WHY I run and I don’t have an answer except this little nagging that keeps pushing me to do it.
    I think it is no coincidence that my peace-full day comes after a short session of meditation of some sort. Found it interesting that you mentioned Trauma Release which I have not yet investigated but wonder if it is similar to releasing trapped emotions (look up The Emotion Code by Bradley Nelson) which I have felt was a helpful read and practice for me. I have definitely been drawn to the whole-body, spiritual/physical connection. Love to read about Reiki and energy medicine and put them into practice when I can.
    I have also found myself to be an all-or-none person. Is that an extremist? I don’t know…it’s me regardless.
    I started training for a marathon at the beginning of 2013 when my 2nd metatarsal snapped in my right foot. 10 weeks without running. Talk about starting at the bottom of the hill!!!
    After that, I had no desire to pick up long-distance running. Not sure why, but it simply disappeared. So now am happy to run 5K distance and a long run would be 5-6 miles for me. I have let go of the double digits. And I do feel a sense of “home” and “happiness” when running through the woods and trails.
    I also love to run in Vibrams. I know, they aren’t for everyone and I have heard a lot of negative opinions on them. Still, I can not ignore how good I feel with them on. My feet love them. My legs love them. My soul loves them.
    I think the best thing that we can do is to pay attention to how we feel about anything and follow those things that you can do with a happy heart.
    Sometimes it’s just necessary to go within in order to fix everything on the outside. And whatever you need to do to accomplish that is perfectly OK.
    Stride on!

  • Hey there!
    Really great post which I can completely relate to – at least 70% of the time. I have struggled with an eating disorder for about three years and am just now making a serious effort to end my bad habits. I have terrible issues with binging/starving/unhealthy obsession with exercise. I eat very healthy, 80% vegan (except for the occasional smoked salmon and raw honey). Although, I have a terrible problem with portion sizes – I cut back way too much and am too afraid that I will gain weight to stop. I realize my problems are not reasonable and that I am not doing my metabolism any favours, but I suppose problems like this are never really controlled by rational thinking. I have a very hard time focusing on anything that isn’t my weight, body or skin.
    In the past year, I have been working in college towards getting my certificate as a Pastry Chef (a career extremely contrasting with my lifestyle) and I have been very busy – which has resulted in cutting back with food and going too hard with exercise resulting in binging and depression. Although I am now moving to a fairly remote town for a summer work placement, where I can go for runs by the water, bike to the farmer’s market, and be very secluded and independent for most of my summer. I will be living out of a mini fridge and a blender basically, but this is the first opportunity I have had where I am in complete control of the amount of exercise and food I choose to indulge in. I have spent a lot of time with my boyfriend over the past year which generally results in soy ice cream sandwiches (sandwiches being VERY plural). So, I am somewhat worried about how I will manage my need for control over my body.
    I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy reading your posts, and will be trying to live a completely healthy lifestyle inspired by your/other’s advice, perspectives, and tips. This is the only blog I look at which involves two things which I aspire/care for: no meat and running. I appreciate your outlook on these things and although I have never really commented on any blog…. or really anything before, I wanted to send some good vibes your way! Thank you for your offering advice. Cheers!

  • Great read Matt!
    My case seems to be the opposite, where I’ve moved away from “training” and just focus on always being ready to run…or ride. It’s been quite a while since I’ve gone even 4 days without something, I’ve got 3 kids too, so it’s a matter of finding a good time that doesn’t interfere with family time, which usually means early morning.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Hey Matt,
    Glad to see you are investigating raw food nutrition, I like your balance of the experiential and science in your writing.
    I would hope you do not get caught up in the Arnstein frutarian, the 100% rule, or the Raw to 4 divisions, that are the rife in the raw food lifestyle community.
    As a raw food barefoot athlete, over the past 7 years I have seen what the various “gurus” have dished out and cringed at the $ industry sprouted from “Minimalist footwear” it can be a confusing message to say the least.
    You mentioned you had been reading various books and one of the topics was mindfulness. This modality for health, is for me, the glue that holds all the benefits of good nutrition and exercise together.
    Mindfulness is a concept that has been around for generations and is found in many forms, I personally utilize the MiCBT framework.
    I would encourage the development of the state of equanimity in a persons life as a very positive step. Applied as a salve to many of life’s wounds it has wonderful healing properties in all aspects of life.
    Regards Russell

  • Just what I needed! I’ve let my fitness/diet/life slip this past year and I’m ready to jump back in. I’ve signed up for a tri I have no business doing right now, but I’ve decided that I’ll “be okay with being just okay” and just do it for the sake of doing it.
    And as a mom of 7 (ages 2 to 12) let me say this: No matter what other goals you have, ALWAYS remember how fast kids grow up.

  • I think for those (myself included) that are addicted to the go hard or go home mentality, embracing moderation may be a worthwhile and challenging goal, akin to trying to eat raw or training for an ultra. Yes, there is not the praise or adulation or feeling of acute accomplishment at the end, but the reward is the development of habits that will sustain us. Because the binge/purge cycle is incredibly stressful to the body (not just with diet and exercise, but working so hard we sacrifice sleep and then “catching up” etc) and we may be putting ourselves at increased risk for chronic disease and premature death.
    I’ve been struggling with this myself, trying to do a little bit of [exercise, writing, etc] every day, even if it is just okay, not perfect. And interestingly, this helps with the procrastination. Removing the feeling of needing to do so much every day or else it is a waste also removes the associated guilt and anxiety.
    Anyways, great post – thanks for the introspection.

  • Thank you for your article. You don’t mention your wife. I’d like to hear about how she handles all your “busy-ness,” especially with a new baby (who just turned 1), as well a what she does, what her interests are, etc. Does she run too? I imagine she must be a great support for you and all your endeavors! Thanks!

    1. Great question, Anne. My wife was a saint during 100-miler training, because the baby was brand new while I was training and even during the race (which my wife helped crew, kids in tow). If not for an infant, the 100 training wouldn’t have felt like such a sacrifice; it really wasn’t all that many more miles than marathon training, just very long weekend runs. Erin is also a runner (3 marathons) and a cyclist, so she does get it. And I’d make the same sacrifice for her if she ever wanted to train for an ultra or something that took up as much time (though I know I wouldn’t so calmly handle 2 kids as she does!).
      Most of my busyness this year has been work-related, so she treats it as necessary, and a good thing for our family. But for the past few months I’ve felt so busy that I was bringing work stress into family time, and I recognized that as a problem.
      You’re right, she’s an absolutely great support and I’m very lucky.

  • Another refreshing and honest article. I’m in a similar position as you, with respect to the running. I finally got up to a full marathon and then through a combination of procrastination and life events I didn’t run for a few months. Now I’m back near the base trying to build back up for marathon #2 this year, but this time using a ChiRunning approach. I’ve thought, and even wrote a little on my blog, about this exact topic. Part of this is to enjoy the journey from wherever we are at that moment. The past is the past, let’s leave it there. Goals are great and we need them, but need to take them from where we are not where we wish we were, even if that platform was a previous level we already achieved. It’s the same advice we give people new to something, don’t worry about what others are doing (including your former self, in this case) just concentrate on where you are and where you want to go from there.

  • This may be in too late for you to read it but I love this post. I’m trying right now to get [pumped up to start training next month for an October marathon and I can’t seem to get out of my own way: 10lbs too heavy and nagging heel pain. I think it’s great when we have periods of time that are reltatively stress free. It’s amazing how much stress and anxiety unwittingly put on ourselves.
    Go easy. Remember to breathe. I have to tell myself this all the time.

  • This really spoke to me, Matt. I had an up-and-down year, and I, too, realized that I really needed to withdraw a bit from some of the obligations I was stretching myself thin with, and go inward for a while. I have no regrets. I’m glad that you’re cherishing family time.
    My post-bacc was my first walloping dose of being “just OK” at something major. It was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever experienced–not being able to excel at a goal I wanted, badly–but I am an infinitely wiser person for having done it.

  • Hey!
    I read Charlie’s article on Tim’s blog when it came out a couple of weeks ago and would be totally interested in your experiences with TRE since I can’t really image what to make of it. Sounds interesting, though!
    So, if you at some point feel like sharing I would be happy to hear about it!
    Regards from Stockholm,

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