Ugh, I feel so out of shape right now. I was gone for 6 weeks of vacation, I’ve been back for 3 weeks and am hitting (most of) my work outs no prob, yet running still feels very hard and my short runs, even 3 miles, are littered with walk breaks. My stamina and endurance have more than suffered due to my sloth and bacon eating tendencies while on vacation.
(And whose fault is that??? Yeah, yeah, yeah…)
Nevertheless, I am trying to be very easy on myself- I maintain that I am still mentally traumatized from the San Diego RnR Marathon and am reassuring myself that I will get back to where I was, slowly but oh so surely. In the meantime, I sure miss the ease I had on the road… I miss the confidence I had in the distance… I miss my athletic self. Since being back home, I’ve been telling myself, “Laura, you must go for a run today BECAUSE you gained 10 pounds on vacation, BECAUSE you want your clothes to fit again, BECAUSE you have all these races coming up, BECAUSE you made a commitment to Team in Training, BECAUSE you will more than likely have a hamburger for lunch.”
Notice how none of those reasons include: “BECAUSE I love to run and BECAUSE I want to.”
Wow. Whatta bummer.
I think that if I keep hanging my runs on all these reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with “the joy that is running”, I won’t enjoy the run. When a run becomes a must-do because of some reason outside of myself, it also becomes work. That may just be me and my rebellious tendencies but I really don’t like being told what to do, especially when I don’t want to do it. Running for me, right now, is taking a LOT of effort. I still enjoy it, on one level, but am finding it hard to mentally get back to where I was- when running was fun and effortless, when I ran because I wanted to and not because I had to.
Of all my posts on this blog to date, the most viewed is 13 Reasons Why I Love Running– isn’t that interesting? So, I guess I’m not the only one who sees (or wants to see) running for a reason as the means to an end; but, I realize, there should be no end. If you’re a runner, you run. That’s it. You don’t stop, you find that passion and keep on going not just to look cute in tight jeans but to simply make yourself happy from within by virtue of doing something you love to do. It’s so much easier said than done…
In his book “Born to Run“, Chris McDougall asserts that possessing that pure joy of running is not only innate but also how ultra-marathoners like Scott Jurek, Jenn Shelton, Billy Barnett, and the late, great Micah True (aka Caballo Blanco) do what they do: they simply love the run, they smile while doing it, and 50 miles later, that smile remains. McDougall writes:
“That was the real secret… they’d never forgotten what it felt like to love running. They remembered that running was mankind’s first fine art, our original act of inspired creation. Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain… Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn’t live to love anything else. And like everything else we love–everything we sentimentally call our ‘passions’ and ‘desires’ it’s really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run.”
Therefore, it is in me. It is in you. It is in any of us who have the passion, desire and will to go beyond our limits and achieve greatness. “Greatness”, in this case, may be defined as a time goal, a distance goal or a certain event goal, but for me, greatness in running stems from the joy within.
Finding that joy again, well, that’s a work in progress… but, I do know it is there and that’s a great place to start.