When doing a long hike, it's important to take "zero days" in order to recover. On a zero day, you typically stay in a town, eat a ton of food that you've been craving, stretch, and relax. It sounds easy, but when you've defined yourself as a hiker, it's hard to fight the urge to keep pushing on. You have this constant reminder that Maine is in the distance and you've got a long way to go.
As a compromise, I've done a lot of "near-o" days--short hikes either into town or out of town. Yesterday, for example, we did just over 4 miles after leaving Franklin, NC. I say "we" because I have been hiking with two girls (Freud and Farasi) that have matched my pace and made the trip a lot less lonely. Still, when we arrived at the shelter after a mere 4 miles, we all felt the pull to keep going (we didn't, and I'm thankful for it). It's been tough, but I'm learning to rest.
On the trail, I want to work on defining myself not by what I do, but in other ways: how easy conversations flow or caring for those around me. One of the best parts of hiking is that there is accomplishment in simply continuing. I don't have to be the fastest or best or anything else; all hikers become equal so long as we each continue. It opens you up to seeing that there's a lot more to life than always trying to beat out others.