Let’s talk running.
This summer, I was doing a fairly job making running a priority in my life. Not summer of 2011 good, but maybe 2010 good.
Then, as happens in life, THINGS started happening. And, as happens, at first I was doing a grand job keeping up with the running. I was traveling to the Midwest on a just about a weekly basis, but I was managing to stay committed. Sometimes I managed running while on the road, but even if I didn’t, most of my trips were so short that I was able to keep up with my running plan [which at the time was just a sticker chart I made myself to aim for 3 runs a week] when I was at home in New York.
But then, as happens in life, THINGS kept happening, and some of them were hard, and things changed. I brought my running gear to Chicago with me to run out the emotions after spending time with and saying goodbye to my grandmother, and the run did me in. I ran. I cried. I walked. I ran. I cried some more. I continued this rotation until politely vomiting* in a ditch and heading back to the hotel to shower off the disgust and face the day of travel ahead of me.
When I returned home from that trip to Chicago, I stopped running. It was crunch time before HLS and I didn’t even pretend to make working out a priority. Sleep was a priority. Time for myself was a priority. Nutritious meal choosing was a priority. Running was not a priority.
Two and a half weeks later, I found myself completing two mega-short, yet mega-important-to-me, runs in Minneapolis.
The first was Friday morning before registration. I planned to run out to the sculpture garden and back to make sure I knew the route before the HLS Fun Run Sunday morning. I invited Kelly, Alicia, and Mindy to join me.
It felt good. It felt good to run with three of my closest friends, and the girls who help motivate and encourage me in running each year. It felt good to run together, to not have pressure, to take breaks, to sweat out some eagerness, and to start the day off with some activity. I liked that at any given moment, any one of the four of us was “leading” the pack. I liked that it happened naturally and that even though that out of the three of them, I’ve only ever run with Alicia by my side before (we’ve run many a races together,) it felt like running a couple of miles together on a Friday morning was completely natural and something we “do all the time.” It felt like I was a runner running with my runner friends. And I liked that.
The second was that Sunday morning HLS Fun Run, which was another out and back. I thought, and even mentioned to the group, that I wasn’t going to run fast and that the group could plan on 10:30/11:00 minute mile pacing if they were going to follow my lead. I encouraged others to run faster and pass me if they wanted, and then we took off towards the garden.
After a minute or two of running, I looked around and noticed a bunch of my favorite friends, new and old, were near me at the front of the line and smiled, taking in the energy around me. The group talked about our love for city running and my several-year-long goal to run a sub-30 minute 5K came up in conversation. I shared that I was in no way prepared to run sub-30 now, and that one of these days I was going to actually train and do it. The girls near me were all super uplifting, and then someone asked what we were currently pacing. I looked down at my Garmin and was a bit shocked to see that my planned 11:00minute mile was no longer; we were keeping a steady 9:15 pace. This was encouraging in itself, but a few words from Ari and Nicole stayed with me from that morning. They may not even remember saying anything at all, but their belief in my ability to run and reach my goals really helped to light a fire in me. I think back to the conversation often and every time I do I find myself re-inspired to go after what I want in terms of my running life.
After taking some awesome group photos at the Walker Sculpture Garden, I ran back to the hotel with Danielle. Elizabeth from My Neon Running Shoes joined us for part of the run, too, and we had a nice time chatting as we made our way back to the hotel. When Elizabeth split off from us to run an errand, Danielle and I continued chatting; mostly about how awesome it would be if we lived near one another and could run together ALL THE TIME. This was our first time running together since my “healthy living journey” and I really wish it was something we could do more often. [Seriously. Let’s work on that teleportation machine, scientist!] Danielle has had SUCH an impact on the person I am today, and it really cherish that short run we got to take together.
When I came home from the Summit, as has happened every year since 2010, the passion I have for running and my running goals was reignited, but this year in a new way.
Instead of training for a race or PR, I simply want to train to truly FEEL and BELIEVE I’m a runner.
I want to run 3-4 times a week, no matter the distance, no matter the route, simply because I ENJOY running and because running makes me a happier, healthier human.
I want to know that each week, I’m going to log some miles. I’m going to spend some time on the road. I’m going to put my running gear to good use.
I want to improve, of course. I want to build my endurance. I want to improve my speed. I want to do better and be better.
I want to run a sub-30 minute 5K, of course. And I know it’s possible.
Since returning home from the Summit I’ve run 3-4 times a week, every week. Running is starting to really feel like a part of me, again, and for that I’m grateful. I think changing how I think about running [less in the “train for a race” and more in the “be a runner” mindset, that is] has really helped keep me consistent. Without a training plan written out for me to follow, there have been a few changes to my running routine that I’ve really taken a liking to in the past few weeks.
I run 2-3 evenings after work, and once on the weekend. [want to hear some tips on running in the evenings, after a day at the office? Read this: I’m a PM Runner] I don’t think about it too much. I look at the weather at the start of the week and decided when I’m running [I do enjoy taking a day off in between runs, still] and then I run on those days. If I don’t want to run, I run anyway. This started after I had a mini-revelation that the only thing I needed to do to FEEL and BELIEVE I’m a runner is simply run. So now I run. A few times a week. Every week.
I’ve stopped running with ear buds in, for the most part. I lost my iPod in Minneapolis and I’ve embraced the listening to the sounds of the neighborhood over the sounds of podcasts and have really enjoyed the change. I thought it would drive me BONKERS not having distraction when I run, so this was a welcomed surprise. I have used my phone once to listen to an episode of EHG once, and I think I’m really going to rely on this method only on days I really am dreading the running, as a sort of “reward” for getting it done. [or maybe what I mean is a bribe?]
I’ve been focused on one mile at a time. A method I picked up on from a friend several months ago, I’ve kind of fallen in love with the evening runs of “run a mile, rest, repeat.”
I run without my Garmin at least twice a week. I’ve been using map my run to plan out and back routes to accomplish in the evenings, especially. I especially love a good one mile out, rest, one mile back. It’s my go-to on days the office-work leaves me exhausted and cranky and has become my favorite way to exhaust emotions of any kind. [angry run, celebratory run, complacent run, eager run, etc.]
I ran 2 miles without stopping for the first time in a VERY long time the other day. And I had negative splits. And I paced almost the exact pacing as I did two days prior running 1 mile out, rest, 1 mile back. And it felt like the biggest accomplishment of my life. Which may explain why I love running so much.
What’s going on in your running life?
* the use of the word “politely” here may be an exaggeration. Have you ever seen a polite vomit?