With every achievement, comes more pressure by setting loftier goals, instead of enjoyment. Kevin Dooney wants to step back to remind himself that running should be fun first and foremost.

A cap with a simple message sits on top of the dresser in my bedroom. A navy trucker cap which has “Make Running Fun Again” printed on the front.

The cap stems from a time when it was felt our college team needed a reminder of the reason we started the sport in the first place, simply to have fun. The mastermind behind the project, Hale Ross, is tragically no longer with us. As such, the cap serves as a poignant reminder for me to try my best to embody Hale’s legacy and enjoy the ability I have to be able to go out and run on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, this appreciation is often something I lose sight of. During a long winter of running solo in the dark, the prospect of any sort of run, at times seemed like an unbearable chore.

Despite racing and training well, some days the desire to do so just simply isn’t there. It’s a tough realisation when you find something that you have built your life around becoming no longer enjoyable.

In past years, largely through my own doing, there has been a constant increase in pressure due to having loftier goals, leaving little time to step back and enjoy the road. Crossing the line of one race leads only to looking at what’s next.

This week I will be running in the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, and instead of taking this for the achievement that it is, I find myself already willing away the time and planning my next track season, the following cross country season, and the longer road ahead.

The ability to plan ahead is often useful to keep the big picture in mind, but when I map out twelve months ahead any slight ache or pain can instantly become more daunting as I see what is literally my future drifting away from me.

The deeper down this cycle I go, the more I drift from the simplest message that I wish to embrace wholeheartedly, a basic desire to make running more fun again.

I often forget that this isn’t actually my job; this isn’t how I earn a living, in fact, its something done while losing money and supposedly as a “hobby.”

Yet it is what I want to do

I want to be able to look back at my time in running and know that I got the most out of myself, but equally have enjoyed myself along the way.

So losing my vision of the fun that can be had in the sport only serves to sting that little bit more. I am my own worst enemy in trying to operate on a black and white scale of what is good for my running career and failing to see the bigger picture of life going on around.

I often forget that I haven’t been living this lifestyle for all that long and still have many things to learn about how to balance everything. I’ve only been working full time for a year. Patience is not a virtue I have been blessed with so I must be able to accept that I’m not always going to make the right decisions first time round.

At least in all the drudgery of the first few months of the year I’ve still been able to achieve my goals, even if the level of joy in them hasn’t quite been there.

I feel this part of the year is always going to be hard with dark nights and bad weather, but I certainly did myself no favours by ignoring advice to get away for warm weather training and instead sticking to three months of the same routine Variation when I am in Dublin is equally key; the 5,000m time trial in Abbotstown in the build up for European Clubs was just the trick to keep the mind sharp.

Equally seeking out company is vital, my brother Conor is now back from injury which is a big boost for the after work runs. Darragh Flynn’s relocation to working in the City Centre and a new Wednesday routine of miles followed by burritos with Conor and him could also be just the trick.

It really is the small things that can make a very large difference, and hopefully things can be made just that little bit more fun again. Although perhaps the greatest shift could be an end to this “lousy Smarch weather.”

Kevin Dooney is part of the ‘class of 2018’ and this year will share his running journey every month. You can read Kevin’s previous posts here and further information about the ‘class of 2018’ can be found here.