Rediscovering why we run

I didn’t intend for this to become a running blog.   And, I hope that it doesn’t become that because I think that would be so boring.  But, with that said, tonight I will be blogging about running.  Why?  Because I had an amazing run tonight and it’s worth sharing.

If you have read my previous post about my 19 miler up in Fort Collins, you may have gathered that my world- at least so far as running is concerned- is in a minor state of panic.  My longest run, thus far in my training, has been my shittiest run—possibly ever.  And, as you can imagine, this has left me feeling pretty nervous about the upcoming race (next Sunday, May 1st!).

I have good reason for my nervousness.  My training has been lazy and/or inconsistent.  On the one hand, it has been good because my IT band still feels decent, but on the other hand, while I know I can finish this race, it might not be pretty.  It might be straight up ugly.

I haven’t felt all that motivated lately to run and it’s been kind of a bummer.  First, I was running on treadmills early in my training.  In my opinion, running on treadmills sucks all the life out of running and is almost worse than not running at all.  So, yeah.  You can imagine how well that went.  And then it got warm and I had a few really good weeks of running, but my mileage wasn’t super high.  I did a lot of pacing and speed work per D’s instructions which was a nice change of pace.  But eventually, as the race date started getting closer I was feeling antsy about my lack of long runs and starting to question the use of the ex as a coach–was he setting me up for failure?!  So, I began doing some long runs on my own, but with all the speed work I had under my belt it felt like I was having a hard time pacing myself and was getting frustrated and sick of running.

So, to remedy this I have stopped working on speed and have recently just been going out and cruising at whatever speed feels good in the hopes that I’d re-connect with my inner runner and start remembering why I like running. Tonight I did just that.   It was rainy and overcast–my favorite running weather–so when I got home from work, I put on my shoes, a fleece, and my alpaca hat and hit the road.  As I ran I made a conscious effort not to skip any songs on my ipod, a practice that I find takes me out of the zone and makes me feel unhappy with my running unless I can find the “perfect” song.  I just sank into the music and my rhythm.

Before long, I was in total zen running mode.  I was enjoying the grey evening light and the mists and the thoughts just tumbled through my head without my conscious mind being aware of their progression.  It brought me back to some of my really great runs as I was training for my first marathon the summer after I graduated from college.  I was remembering tonight, how much I loved running in the Twin Cities  along the river and through the tree-lined parkways and boulevards in St. Paul.  That was one of the happiest times in my life–whether because I was running and active, or because I liked the research I was doing on the Cape Wind Project, or because D and I were in a really good place– that summer is seared in my memory.  I would work my shifts at Patagonia, do research for Roopali’s Cape Wind project, and then come home and go for a long run, usually between 6 and 9 miles, and then show up at D’s place, eat a bagel and we’d make dinner and throw a frisbee around.  It was a simple, nice routine, and it all felt really easy back then to fit the various parts of my life together.

These days, it sometimes feels much more complicated.  But, tonight’s run reminded me that when it’s going right, running is like dreaming.  It lets the controlling part of my brain take a break and things begin to float into their proper spots—it’s like defragmenting a computer.  It makes more room for me to think clearly and store things.  Without running, my brain becomes a cluttered mess.

I left my house tonight feeling antsy and as though I had too many things on my plate, but came home feeling clear-headed and optimistic.  I remembered what I love about running.

Now the next step is to remember why I love running for 26.2 miles next Sunday…

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