While I’ve been really heavy into the triathlon stuff lately, my humble start was running. I can definitely call myself a runner without raising an eyebrow, whereas I couldn’t call myself a cyclist or a swimmer yet without a snicker. Perhaps a triathlete (though that still feels uncomfortable having only been at it a year and completing 3), but I feel more like a runner with a cycling and swimming problem (nod to the hash house harriers – they call themselves a drinking group with a running problem :D).
Runs have been tough lately. Between back issues (running is the last thing to come back fully – I can cycle and swim without any issues, but when running, it reminds me until I am 100% healed), disappointing paces, changing schedules, and just some general ennui with things, running and I have been a bit out of sorts. Particularly outdoor running, haven’t had a good one of those in a while.
Driving to a chinese restaurant in my ‘hood for some lunch, and then back, I realized that it felt weird to be traveling that route in a car, because I so often ran it. Then, feeling a damn lot of pride that I’ve traversed so much of my neighborhood, and quite a few surrounding ones, on fleet running feet. I know where the potholes are to avoid. I know where the hills are, the flats are, and the slight downhills where I can really open up. I know where the puppies are to say hi to. I know to avoid the 4 cats outside at one place.
I definitely have brief snippets of what I remember about the various neighborhoods I’ve lived in. Everything from bulletholes outside (yay first apartment) to drunken walks home from our neighborhood bar, to cool creaky bridges, to *way* too many screaming kids, but this one? Definitely, I will remember pounding every inch of said pavement and knowing the roads much better on foot or on bike than I do in my car.
Then there’s the camaraderie, even though I’m a lone wolf, so to speak, as I don’t have a running partner. The other runners, walkers, and bikers out keep me from feeling too lonely. Sometimes it’s a smile and nod, sometimes it’s a high five, but no matter what, it’s an acknowledgment that have both earned our entrance into a secret club of awesome people!
Beyond the obvious health reasons, and besides my obvious pride and feeling of accomplishment with running new distances and/or personal records, there is more. I need to remember that when I’m on crappy run #3 in a row or I have to tone down my paces due to heat, injury recovery, bad days, etc. There is more to it than just the numbers on the treadmill or my garmin.
Hell, even Zliten, who definitely prefers the cycling to a run, finally was cleared to take his first treadmill run today since the great Gladiator Games debacle, and after, he said he felt much better, more like himself. There is a magic that doesn’t happen with other sports or activities. That endorphin rush, the “runner’s high”, is like no other. It may feel a little more intense after PR’ing a half marathon or something, but I still got a decent hit even after my 12:00 minute mile back-hurty run.
Some people detest the treadmill, but I like it. There is something to be said about a controlled climate, even and soft terrain, and being able to scientifically and methodically push my pace. Speedwork is rarely as successful or enjoyable outside (unless I can get to the track in nice weather, that’s fun too), and what better to work on hill repeats than a surface I can click with the touch of a button. My gym has little TVs attached to the ‘mills, so I can zone out. For some reason, I default to: a) gameshows – wheel of fortune or minute to win it really distract me from the task at hand, b) cartoons – simpsons or the like, though anything works, or c) food porn – love the iron chef or man vs food. Makes me think about running faster so I can get through faster and get home and have dinner.
One of the best things I love about running though? I get to zone out and listen to music and have time to myself. Not time to think or worry or plan or scheme or schedule or dream, just really time to be. To be present. In the moment. A good hard run means not only can I not talk, but I can’t really think. Active meditation. Head clears, and the only thought is your body placement, stride, foot strike, how far you’ve gone, how far to go, and how fast you are going. The ol’ grey matter isn’t letting through work worry, body image worry, life worry, or anything. It is time just to exist and function as a moving object.
What do you love most about running?