This could be the title of a post about any of my weekday morning runs, but this morning I was feeling especially nostalgic and sentimental about this favorite hobby of mine. It started when another headlamp-clad runner did the thing I love most, gave me the silent wave of solidarity that can only be exchanged between crazy runners in the predawn hours. It’s not so much a wave as a hand raised in recognition, much like I imagine a cheetah would do upon seeing another cheetah in the Serengeti after only crossing paths with elephants for three weeks. (I mean, right?) I was a little tired this morning, but still glad to be out and moving, and I was also feeling a little more adventurous than I usually do when choosing my morning routes. I found myself going in new loops, connecting favorite spots with new side streets. I started to think about all the miles I had already covered, the parts of town I had already seen, before my day had even really begun, and, I don’t know. It was a great feeling.
This running high was very unlike the usual post-workout euphoria that comes after you’ve pushed yourself really hard. It was more like pausing after a big, involved project and realizing the scope of what you’ve accomplished. I suppose my sense of accomplishment this morning wasn’t connected to achievement, per se, just a respect for the continued process and the dedication it takes any of us to get up morning after morning to do this whole training thing. There’s been a slow-burning excitement for me lately. It’s more constant than the promise of something big and flashy, it’s more like being granted a bottomless stash of your favorite chocolate and knowing you’ll be able to nibble on it every day, or having some fun secret you only share with a few other people.
Some of my favorite running memories are so boring, so every day, that they’re not even worth mentioning to anyone who is not also in on the secret, so if you’ve made it here, hopefully you are, in fact, in on it. They’re not big things like the time I crossed the finish line at X race (well, those are in there too), but a lot of them are things like the time I ran 16 miles in the pouring ran with my MP3 player in a plastic baggie. PSA: not a great idea, I created a mini tropical rainforest, which doesn’t not bode well for electronics. Predictably my MP3 player died, but then during the final mile, it magically cut back in with The Who’s Baba O’Riley, which will forever be my fight song.
Well, anyway, this morning was another run for time, and while I failed to articulate the gist of my point yesterday, this morning I think I hit the crux of it. Maybe I was thinking more clearly in the euphoria. It’s simple: pace doesn’t matter. The beginning of my run was super slow, but it didn’t matter in terms of how long I was going to be out. 80 minutes is 80 minutes. I resisted the urge to round off my mileage, i.e. exercise some training log compulsion to go ahead and run until my watch hit its next mile marker. I will survive with today’s total mileage ending in .86 instead of .0.
I’ve been craving some yoga lately, so I might try to do a short session geared toward restoration tonight when I get home. My body is screaming at me for more TLC, I think. No aches or pains, no nagging injuries I’ve been ignoring, just a desire to stretch and relax for a bit. I’ve started biking to work in the past week, so I think this is also a factor. It’s not a long or especially hard ride (about 5-10 minutes each way), but I’ve quickly learned which of the required leg muscles are not being utilized by running.
P.S. This is day 16 of my writing challenge.
*Photo credit: waldopepper