I started running when I was 18. Right out of high school, right when I met my husband. I’ll never forget that first time I ran a mile. Took me weeks to work up to it, but when I finally did, it seemed like such an accomplishment. Since then I’ve run and run and run. I’ve completed lots of half marathons and one full marathon…actually trained for two but had to back out at the last minute from an injury. I’ve done trail races and countless charity 5ks. Our family is FULL to the brim with amazing long distance runners. My point is to tell you running has been a big part of my life.
BUT I have some beef with the sport, or really the way I do the sport. You see, I’m either in “running mode” or not. I run a lot or not at all. I’ll run and run for 6 months then nothing for 6. I train for marathons or I don’t. It’s an all or nothing mentality that I’ve had since I can remember. I know a lot of runners are like this too…I’ve talked with them. Even though my brain works in this semi-neurotic way, I consider it a gift. It’s what gives me passion and drive to do all the things I do. When it comes to running, however, I just don’t feel like it’s healthy to put your body through that sort of roller coaster ride. In hindsight, I think the reason I stop running each time is because I push myself so hard when I do run. I get bored and exhausted with it. Then after I time away, I miss it and start the cycle all over again.
Runners always seem to be striving to go further or faster don’t they? I understand that, as it’s only natural people want to push themselves. You run 4 miles with ease and then to get that same “great workout” feeling you once had, you need to push it to 5 miles or 4 but faster. How can one continue to be a runner, but not fall into the trap of long-distance-wear-out-your-body-injury-laden-4-hour-long running??
I love Heather’s blog, Heather Eats Almond Butter. She was once a long distance runner too, but now finds more joy in yoga and walking her dogs. Read through her FAQ to see her thoughts on the matter. She talks about it more in this post. It’s old, but still relevant and great.
I’m not ready to sign off on running all together just yet though. I really do love it, nothing gets your heart and endorphins pumping quite like a nice run (especially on trails). What I am ready to say goodbye to is runner’s mentality. Faster, stronger, longer, harder. No thanks. No long distance training for me. No races. This is what I want my running to look like. Take Garrison (our dog) out to our local trail system and just “go for a run”. It’s that simple. Run until my body says walk, or stop silly, or try faster now! Not OMG my legs are killing me and I feel a blister coming on but I have to get to 10 miles!! I’m done with all that.
On my list I wanted to accomplish running 4 miles a day for a month. Maybe I should just tell you what inspired this post and my new (kind of new) thoughts on running. Here’s what happened. I went to the gym and ran my 4 miles on the treadmill. I just got to thinking about how DUMB it all was. What was I doing here on this perpetual leg mover thing, pushing myself into a sweaty mess? Seriously, think about it for a second. How silly running must look to people doing productive exercise (like shoveling snow for hours or gardening all day). So, I’m not counting yesterday’s treadmill run as part of my goal. I’m starting fresh today, but with some new guidelines. Move my body 4 miles across this earth. Sweat if I feel like it. Stop and smell the flowers. Take photos of pretty things if I see them. Talk to the neighbors. Stretch. Breathe.
After this month of happy running, I’m going to reevaluate. I’m curious to see if I will feel the same as I do now.