MANDA TOWNSEND » a personal blog

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ON RUNNING

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.

  • Robyn - Love the post. I, by no stretch of the means, think of myself as a runner, but running is something I think about a lot, probably ever since college. I always remembered how in high school every year we would have training to run a mile and NEVER once did I ever run a complete mile. I’d do a combination of run/walk. Since rediscovering the awesomeness that is running (and not being forced to by a school) I have run a mile. Now I’m onto a 5K goal, but no matter how many times I start training I start to feel that same thing you talk about “it will never be enough” and the impending fear that once I complete that goal that I will just not want to run again. So, I take breaks here and there. I too wish I could be consistent and be happy with that. I also wish that I could take breaks and not have to start over at square one. “oh, I can run a mile” a month later after not running at all “what? why can’t I run the mile anymore?!” In November I finally bought my very first treadmill. I thought this would be the answer. I would no longer be subject to weather or having to drive across town to the gym. But guess what? It’s so predictable, but now I’m complaining how I wanted to have it upstairs in our living room and it ended up being setup in our back room in the basement and that’s just enough excuse to not use it already. ugh.
    Whether a person runs a mile or is running marathons, I think it is safe to say that running is a great sport/activity. As much as people may love/hate it, it’s still always there and sucks you back in.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney - I loved reading your thoughts on running. I have a love/hate relationship with running and I want to do a goal similar to yours and add in the “stop and smell the flowers” as well.

    -Courtney

    P.S. I’m glad to “meet” you as well!ReplyCancel

  • Heather Eats Almond Butter - Hi Manda! Oh how this post made me smile…and laugh. “What was I doing here on this perpetual leg mover thing, pushing myself into a sweaty mess?” Haha, too funny and I’ve so been there!

    Like you, I remember the first time I ran a full mile. It felt like such an accomplishment, and I was amazed at what my body was capable of if I gave it the proper training. However, “proper training” evolved into pushing myself past my limits again and again until I was miserable. If I enjoyed running as much as I did the day I ran that first mile, I’d do it, but I no longer do. Maybe I will some day, and if I do run again, I hope I 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, and breathe. :)

    Wonderful post, and now I’m off to find you on Instagram.ReplyCancel

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