Yesterday I got up bright and early for my Tuesday "run". That gets parenthesis because my "runs" still include a lot of walking as I rebuild my endurance and get back into the habit of a 5K being a "regular" run and not just a distance for race day. However, since running is involved I give the entire session the term "run" and yesterday was a great run. Not much faster than what I've been doing, but I blame the dog. Seriously, 4 poop stops, FOUR!! That has a way of taking the wind from your sails and slowing down the clock. Especially when you don't stop the clock while you stand and wait for the squat to end. Memo to self, change Runtastic settings to auto pause. Four *shaking head in wonder that such a small dog can produce so much waste*. Oh well, I'm not here to discuss poop. I'm here to discuss running.
I've had my running ups and downs and while I wouldn't call it a down, per se, I have been in the longest running funk of my running career. Tight hips, tight back, tight shins, and plain old laziness have eaten away at my number of truly great runs since, oh, about October of last year. I haven't had any of those truly awesome days where you KNOW you are going to run again because it was SO totally wonderful. If you've never had one of those runs that transcends the action and becomes an event I am SO, SO sorry and I hope that one of these days soon you go for a run and everything melts away as you and the run become best of friends.
Running and I have not been best of friends and I've been missing it. I determined that this would be the year that I just do it. I just go out and run and do what I'm supposed to do even if it feels like torture to do so. Baring injury and a justified reason to miss a run I would do my best to hit every scheduled run. I found out that virtual races help me stay motivated and that has been a huge help, especially when it comes to running the entire scheduled distance and not cutting it short just because I wasn't "feeling it", or it was cold, or the dog was being a kook, or whatever other reason I could imagine. The simple act of staying out there has gotten me back on track. My times are painfully slow, but inching back down to their normal slow pace instead of turtle slow pace. What was still missing was THAT feeling. The feeling that your feet and the asphalt were the only two things of any import in the entire world, at least for the next 45 minutes. The feeling that the road belongs to you. The feeling that nothing could stop you at this moment because you are floating, not running. The feeling that running is not a chore. The feeling that it is not something you have to do, but something you want to do. Too many runs, for too long, have been a chore. Me going through the motions of the action and not finding the joy.
On Saturday I went to the Electric Run bound and determined to just have fun, even if I walked the entire thing. I didn't walk the entire thing. I walked a lot. I walked the first half or so then told myself "when I get to that point there I'm running". I did. I kept the deal and for awhile it was like it has been. Just a run, nothing special, nothing transcendent. I ran, I walked and I ran some more off and on for a bit. Then, like magic, it came. Out of the blue. My pace settled into a good and happy pace. My legs felt strong. My body felt "right" . My run felt good. It felt magical and fun and like I could do it forever. Which, of course, I couldn't, because I've let my stamina fall to pitiful levels, but while I ran it was good and it was good for longer than I thought it would be. When I stopped and walked and then started running again the magic was still there. Ahhhhh, it felt so wonderful to LOVE running again.
Yesterday, in the early, pre-dawn hours, I wasn't finding the magic, but it was okay. I was still running high from the race on Saturday. My legs did feel great, not sore or as tight as they have been. My back wasn't too tight at the start, but I could feel a little twinge down in the lower back that was throwing me off. An irritant like a little fly. On doggie break number four he was taking forever (really, I'm not being hyperbolic here, not even a little-lol) and I was a bit peeved, I mean really, four times! Four times is kind of common for him though so I really should have expected it. Anyhow, waiting for the dog gave me time to stretch out that lower back a bit and watch a drop of moisture drip from my bangs. Didn't realize our normally arid conditions would be humid. I should have grabbed a bondi band. When dog finally finished we walked for a bit and then I ran and the feeling was back. The magic returned with the sunrise. The same feeling from the race was back. My pace was right, still not as fast as I'd like, but "right". It felt normal. The tightness in my back disappeared and my footfalls were soft. My legs were strong. My hips loose. Even though earlier I was having problems with a sock rubbing my foot wrong, that problem had evaporated. For an entire kilometer I held my pace. Even my breathing fell into an old familiar pattern that I knew would carry me further, longer. Not panting and desperate, but soft and quick. Wanting to finish my run actually running I took a half a kilometer walk break and as the last half k cued through my headphones I started up the small grade that signals the end of my route. I powered up the small hill that I've been walking for many weeks now instead of running. I had to tack on a tiny bit of a loop to finish the distance, but my legs were strong until the end. Yesterday's run was one of the runs that make me a happy runner.
This month I had scheduled to gradually bump my weekend runs from 5k to 10k and had been having doubts about that choice. I feel more confident now that I can certainly start adding the miles back in. Even if they are slow and I am walking a portion my relationship with running is on the mend and we have races to prepare for! I run for the feeling it gives you. I run because it changes the relationship you have with yourself. I run to feel the rain on my face, the breeze on my cheeks and to see the sun coming over the mountains. I run for strength of body and strength of mind. I run for the sweat. I run so that my bangs will drip with sweat and fog. I run because while sometimes it is a chore, the wonderful runs more than make up for the bad ones.