I’ve been running a long time and I’ve learned a lot about myself through running. I don’t know if it’s the solitude of running alone or being alone with my thoughts, but I seem to learn more about myself when I run rather than any other time.
If you’re new to running, the mere thought of lacing up your shoes and going outside in the rain, sleet or snow can be a little daunting but if you’re running for the right reasons, the weather becomes second nature. However, if you are training for a race or some other type of event, you learn to put the weather aside and join forces with mother nature to conquer your goal.
After many years of running, you learn to forget how the body feels and appreciate the fact that you can actually run longer, faster, or completely forget about where you are. I have to admit, that my training runs are generally more intense and structured so even though I’ve learned to shift my focus off of my body during these type of runs, I still have to challenge my physical limitations if I want to get faster or run longer. With this physical adaptation, comes some discomfort.
Training for a race is a choice. I choose to step out of my comfort zone and inflict some type of discomfort on my cardiovascular and skeletal system. I’ve learned many things during the decades about running. I don’t think I can remember everything as a child (when I first started racing x-country) but I do recall how I felt during a race and afterwards and it was a feeling of joy and satisfaction. It was easy back then. You were competing against others but it was for run. There was no keeping track of your time and trying to work on your PR’s (personal record). I don’t even think I heard of the term PR until I started running marathon’s.
During my high school and college day’s, I was one of the very few females on the x-country varsity teams as running wasn’t that popular amongst other female athletes. Sports such as volleyball, basketball, and even field hockey were viewed as a ‘true’ varsity sport. For myself, it wasn’t about popularity, it was about doing something that I was passionate about. I remember every race in college. It was a short season but the competitiveness was different. There was no tracking the times or wishing that I had done better. I knew that I ran my best and I had fun doing so.
When I finished college, I decided to conquer new goals. These goals would take me down a path of not only challenging myself physically, but mentally. The passion never left but the competitiveness entered me as I started to judge my success based upon my time. Just the mere thought of reaching a new PR drove me to train harder and longer. For some reason, running marathons had changed my perception of what running really meant to me. You can certainly have both, but my passion started to dissipate with each race as the thought of reaching a personal best drove me and to some degree it disappointed me. When I didn’t reach my target, I began to train harder and longer. Did running marathons lose my sense of passion for something I once loved so much?
I think the true discovery of one’s self comes through the injuries. I never experienced an injury until I started training for marathon’s. I learned quickly the impact of long distance running on the body. From multiple knee injuries to debilitating foot problems, I overcame and learned to run again. It wasn’t easy though. It was about testing my physical ability and to reach goals. Your goals can always change. When I ran marathon’s it was about reaching a certain time to qualify for the Boston Marathon or knocking time off and being able to run faster before a certain age. Those thoughts have left. I could care less about running a specific amount of races before a certain age, and now racing is really not that important to me. Being healthy and injury free is.
My last race a few weeks ago really solidified what running really means to me now that I’m in my 40’s and injury free after 5 years. You can still race and try and meet your target but don’t let the numbers take over the passion. For myself, when I learned to let go of the numbers, I enjoyed it so much more. I felt free and simple. Running shouldn’t be complicated. I do love to run and I want to run as long as I can even if it means decreasing how many times I race or how many times I run a week.
I had another race planned to end off the trail running season this year, but I decided to let it go. Instead, I’ve decided to hit the trails with the intention of getting lost in my thoughts, take in the scenery, and listen to rustle of the leaves with each foot strike to end off the year. I will continue to run on the trails for the remainder of the year until it is no longer safe but I know there will be another season waiting for me next spring.
Eat Clean & Live Green!
Your Compassionate Coach,