Gift of Running

>> Monday, December 22, 2014

I ran 8 miles last night, and it felt awesome. For the last several months, I’ve cut down significantly on my running, and it’s been tough. I’m not going to lie. Less tough of late, though, since the days have been dreary, frigid, and icy and the sidewalks have -- until recently -- been covered in snow. Still, I somehow find myself plodding along most days of the week, even for just a couple miles at a time.

It’s funny how my life can take these twists and turns and loops and highs and lows. I have these tricky situations and inconsistencies, yet running remains my constant. So long as I’m not stressing myself training for something major or in the throws of an injury (the two usually go together), running is almost like water for me. I need it . . . but it’s not so much a physical necessity as it once was.

It’s purely mental these days.

I’ve already written about this at length, but I’m continually struck by the truth of it all.

I’ve tried countless other routines. Yoga. Cycling, both indoor and out. Swimming. A myriad of fitness classes, etc. Nothing gets me the same way running does, and I’m sure most of us have a pet activity (even if it’s playing violin or knitting, etc.). What I’ve been the most pleased with is how adaptable running is to whatever stage in life I’m experiencing. I used to think of it mostly in terms of PRs and races and working toward goals. Now it’s completely about me, I couldn’t care less about the rest.

Lately I’ve been going out listening to Serial (I’m on episode 10 -- don’t spoil it!) and jogging at whatever pace allows me to best follow the narrative. For me, this has been 9:20/mile -- a solid minute over my “usual” easy run pace. And you know what? It’s glorious. I step outside, it’s too dark to do most of my normal routes around the neighborhood anyway . . . so I stick to the same 2-mile loop (the one with the sidewalks and street lamps).

I was incredibly excited to check the holiday forecast and see that we have some 40 and 50 degree days in the future. Sure, I’d love a good snowstorm, but I know I can run some higher mileage in the next two weeks -- and I plan to take full advantage. I’ve been keeping up one good double digit workout a month, one good speed session (so I want to do a race -- 5K or 10K), and then a lot of 6-8 milers.

This is all a disjointed way say that running is my happy place. I plan to do a lot of it over the holiday. I hope you find time to enjoy your favorite activities, too. It’s important that we do the things (whatever they are) that bring us the most joy and centeredness. So, carve out some time for yourself. You’re worth it, and it’s a simple, free gift you can give yourself in all the madness.

Fellow runners: What’s your Christmas running tradition? 

I love heading in the dark on X-mas Eve and taking in all the sights and sounds of people buzzing around to see family or go to church, etc. I also love looking around at the Christmas lights. Can’t wait -- just two more days!

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