Friday, July 30, 2010

For the Joy of Running

I finally got to run today! Yay! After 2 weeks of 0 miles of running, I ran 3 miles around Lake Eola tonight. It was super humid and my Garmin didn't cooperate, but I didn't care because I got to run! And there was NO pain! To say that I am super excited is a major understatement. This run reminded me of why I run and put my priorities into perspective.

I had lofty goals of getting faster and becoming a marathon maniac this season by running 3 marathons in 90 days, but none of that seems important now. The only thing I care about is that I keep running for the joy of running and for the rest of my life. Races come and go, but the pure joy I experience when I run will only last for as long as I take care of myself and never forget why I do this.

I started the season with a new faster running group, running 3:1 intervals, and doing track work. Things were going great; I was enjoying the runs and the new routine and felt really strong. Then I developed Plantar Fasciitis and that put an end to speed work and hills for a while. My first thought was how this would affect my training and if I'd be able to try to run a 5:15 marathon and become a marathon maniac. I was initially bummed when I realized I may have to give up on my goals, but then I realized that I was asking a lot of myself for no good reason. Sure it's good to have goals and push myself beyond my comfort zone, but not at the risk of injury.

Three weeks ago I decided to switch back to my beloved 2:1 group halfway through my 11 miler because I was struggling in the heat and there was no reason I should be running a long run as fast as the 3:1 group. It was wonderful and it reminded me why I was doing this. What good is it to get faster if I can't make it to the start line of my next race?

At that moment I was at peace with my decision to step back my pace and run for the joy of running. Everything else melted away and I no longer cared if I didn't get to run a particular time. Then I fell off my bike and I couldn't run, so I took a week off to heal, enjoyed some non-running activities and it was wonderful. I hadn't really had a break between seasons, and it felt good to rest and fill my days with other things. One week quickly turned to two and then I got antsy. My head began to fill with fears and doubts, and it made all those race plans seem even more trivial and arbitrary. I just wanted to run!

So when I got to run today, it was amazing. I didn't care about anything else but the fact that I was out there running again and it felt effortless. Now I am adjusting my expectations and will be content with becoming a half fanatic or not. If I am able to fit in the training to still run the Space Coast Full marathon, I will. But I am not going to put any pressure on myself to make that happen. I am going to enjoy running and the rest will just be a bonus :)

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