Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Running Lessons: Just Shut Up and Run

If you're a runner and you don't read Shut Up and Run yet, I'd suggest you start. Not only because Beth is hilarious (which she is) but because she often provides some incredibly useful advice. Last week, one of her posts really hit home. It was about some of the excuses people use to avoid running. I admit I've been guilty of using more than one in the past few months. Beth's post reminded me that running is supposed to feel hard sometimes - anything worth doing generally does. That's how we humans grow and learn - by challenging our minds, bodies and hearts to do things that are new and difficult.

Which isn't to say running always hurts. Very often, when I'm running with a friend or feeling particularly energetic, it doesn't hurt at all. It's a joy to feel my arms and legs moving, blood surging, heart pumping. But there are days when my legs feel like lead and my arms and shoulders ache and my calves get tight and all I want to do is sit on bench and weep.

Over the past 10 days, I've experienced both kinds of runs. On Sunday, David trekked to Bridgewater to run along the river with me and was so unrelentingly positive and encouraging that 12k went by in a flash and felt great. By contrast, when I ran Tuesday evening after a long day commuting to the city for work, my body was stiff and achey from too little activity and the run sucked.  Friday morning's run wasn't much better. It took a stern "shut up and run" to get me out the door.

This past Sunday, I tackled 14k on my own and I confess I was worried. Would it be another suffer-fest or would I to settle into a comfortable groove and enjoy it? Fortunately, even without David's good company, the run went well.  It helped that it was a stunningly beautiful day

- windless, sunny and cool - and that I was well-fueled and hydrated but I suspect the real magic was my attitude. I awoke that morning feeling deeply grateful for all the good things in my life - my husband, our beautiful homes, dear friends, loving family, a job I enjoy, the time and space to run - and that positive energy carried me until my cranky middle-aged body finally woke up. By the halfway point, I was really starting to enjoy myself. My body felt relaxed and strong, my eyes and heart were filled with the beauty surrounding me, and my mind was busy dreaming up plots for a new novel.  

Don't get me wrong, the run still took effort. I had to dig deep to run up hills and my right leg felt tight and sore by the time I arrived home but it felt much better than the 10k run I did two weeks before - an encouraging sign that my body is still able to run longer distances so long as I prepare properly.

In the coming week, I have three more runs planned and hope to do four runs per week into the fall. Rum Runners Relay in just around the corner (our team finally has a confirmed spot!) and I'm giving serious thought to trying a half marathon later in the fall so I need to train a lot more regularly than I have been.

The other bit of running news is that I've been asked to speak to another Running Room group about chi running. This is the fourth or fifth time I've been invited and it's nice that folks think I have something useful to say. On the other hand, I feel a bit of a fraud since I'm certainly not qualified to teach chi running - something I stress at the start of each presentation. My goal is simply to encourage people to think about their form and consider whether chi running might be for them.

That's the running update from here. I'll try to write more soon. In the meantime, happy running and writing, friends. 

1 comment:

  1. Been following SUAR for years, you'll see one of her shirts when I visit. I've had both kinds of runs recently, so I can really sympathize. Lots of the Chi running is really good stuff, even if you aren't a 'chi runner'. I'm always reminding myself about posture, and relaxing, and lean. Those photos, such beautiful places to run!