Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why I Love Running - especially long distances (even though I'm not super fast)

Yay, another post in two days!  I used to write a lot, and it would seem I am in one of my writing phases, so don't be surprised if you see quite a few of these... at least... for the next week or two :)  I guess it also doesn't help that I finally had a couple of regular cups of coffee, which is the most coffee I have had in awhile.  Most mornings I haven't even been finishing a cup, or I've been drinking some half-caff.  It would seem I am sort of weaning myself off of caffeine!!!  I never thought that would happen, and this wasn't even on purpose... anyway, it has left me in a state of being a bit hyper - mostly in a good way.  Mostly. 

Anyways, onto my main topic... As I was on my run this morning, I started thinking about why I love running so much... I know, who thinks about running while running, right?!?  Totally just kidding, but anyway...  I think it is really the mental aspect of running that I like, because let's be honest here, I have a lot of crappy runs, and at those times I wonder why I am running. Honestly, before I took pretty much all of last week off, I was questioning my love of running.  I mean... I wasn't trained for that ultra at all, and had never in my entire live done something that far, nonetheless doing it for around eight hours (yes, I was very slow - my goal was only to finish!)  The hardest part was the mental aspect of the last seven miles, which were pretty much all uphill, with some rocky portions, and stream crossings, and it was all cool, but it seemed to go on FOREVER.  Now, once I've had time to recover, all of my runs have been pretty much awesome... well, all two of them :)  My five miles fast yesterday felt amazing, and my run today felt pretty darn good.   I think it kind of goes to show how good it can feel to see hard work pay off.  I even look at myself now versus two months ago, and I have already improved quite a bit.  Granted, I was still kind of getting back in shape from my stress fracture - and any other number of random things that were popping up at that time, so I was sort of in the getting back to where I was phase.  But with speed work and tempo runs, and some longer runs (or races!), I have definitely improved beyond where I was.  I actually think I'm probably in the best running shape ever, and that's a good feeling... assuming I don't jinx myself and hurt myself again.

I think the above mental challenge is also why I like distance running so much.  It really is quite a bit mental as opposed to just physical.  Physically, I think we are capable of quite a bit if we don't let our minds give out.  For example, that last part of that 50k was terrible mentally.  I just wanted it to be OVER... it felt as if it would never end.  And while it takes mental strength to keep running fast for a 5k or 10k, the physical definitely limits you more than the mental.  Your mental has to say keep fighting and don't give up, but when you are running fast, your legs can only handle so much... or your whole system, in my case, where I either a) feel like I am going to vomit, or b) do vomit.. distance is more strategy.  Perhaps because I am not a world class athlete who is accustomed to running long distances at an all-out paced, I have to figure out when to start speeding up and when to back off... and how to know the difference between my body hurting and my brain giving out.  I guess that is why I got so addicted to distance running; the whole feel of knowing that I pushed myself past the point where I didn't think I could keep going.  Of being tired and sore, but still going.

Of course, there is also the aspect of just the feeling of a nice run, particularly in the woods.  Even if it is a bit brisk outside, I love the rhythm of my feet and a light breeze.  It is meditative, and it makes you realize how little all of your problems are in the big picture. 

Sooo... these are the reasons I love running, though I'm not sure I can actually put it all into words.  There are too many reasons!  Alas, I think my coffee is wearing off and now I am starting to feel sleepy :( 


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