Why I Run

I originally published this post back in 2015, before the injury I struggled with for over a year. In rereading my 2015 post, I realized that while it still rings true, my perspective has changed a bit, and I felt that it needed updated. 

Why do you run so much? Ask my students, my family, my friends. I shrug and give the simple answer: I run so much because I love it.

But my true reasons for running are deeper, and many. When people ask that question, they don’t really want my entire answer. But if they did, here’s what I’d say:

I run so much because I love it. I love the challenge of a hard training run or race: the fire in my legs, the ache in my lungs, the bile in my throat, all telling me that I’m giving it my all, that no matter the outcome, when the run is over and I collapse, I can be satisfied, knowing that I stretched my limits as far as I could.

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I love the euphoria following a win, and in a strange way, I love the despair following a loss — because it’s the losses that teach me, that make me analyze my weaknesses, that inspire me to work harder and come back fitter, stronger, faster than before.

I love the hard efforts, especially after an injured hamstring kept me running easy for months. But in some ways, that injury made me appreciate the easy runs even more. After being sidelined for weeks, running at all, no matter how slowly or sporadically, felt like meeting an old friend — the kind of friend who loves you and accepts you no matter how long you’ve been apart or how much has changed. While healthy, I’d taken for granted the easy runs, but returning from injury reminded me that nothing brings me peace like the serenity of a quiet early-morning run, bathed by the light of the rising sun, serenaded by the first birds of morning. Evening runs are special, too: the day’s stress melts away with the sweat, and as the miles tick away,  my mental storm clouds clear. Running helps me put my world in perspective. In both a figurative and the most literal sense, running keeps me grounded.

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I love the places running has taken me, from literal places — exploring a new city while travelling or moving,  discovering trail running and the beauty it brings — to mental journeys — pushing through a hard race to hit a once-impossible PR, slogging through crummy weather.

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Running has always been my alone time, my chance to regroup and calm the chatter in my head. But running also gives me a social outlet, a chance to meet similar-minded friends, a way to connect without my usual awkward shyness. Running helped me meet people after we moved. It connects me with trail runners more experienced than I. And running brought me a sisterhood in the form of the Skirt Sports community. The solo runs are wonderful, but I’ve learned that running with others creates a bond unlike any other.

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It doesn’t matter if I’m running trails — the mountains, the streams, the wildlife, the uneven terrain keeping me from obsessing about pace and holding me in the moment — or if I’m running roads — the pavement pressing against my feet, my lungs burning, the miles passing faster and faster– or even if I’m running on the treadmill, zoning out to mindless television and playing mental games. Wherever I am, running is my happy place, my stress-relief, my alone time, my friend-maker, my self-awareness enhancer. And I love it.

That is why I run so much.

 

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Horsetooth Half Marathon Training, Weeks 7-8

Looks as though my blog is becoming just a training log, eh? Oh well. It’s better than not blogging at all, right?

As my mileage is building back up, I’ve been feeling pretty good. I’m really trying to listen to my body, as apparently this hamstring thing is just one of those nagging injuries that never really goes away, so I want to keep it in check while getting myself back in shape. That means being less of a slave to my training plan than I ever have been before — it used to be that no matter how I felt or what was happening in my life, if the plan said to run 8 miles, I ran 8 miles, dang it. I’m working hard to break that mindset, stay healthy, and organize my training around my life, rather than vice-versa.

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Keeping some perspective on why I run. Headband from Skirt Sports. You can use code 841SONN for 15%. (Not an affiliate link, just making your life easier. You’re welcome.)  

Here’s how it’s gone the last two weeks:

Week 7: February 19-25

Monday: This was a wicked-cold week., and it felt worse since Colorado’s had such a mild winter. We had a high of something like 13 degrees on Monday, and I needed to lift in addition to running. We also had snow on the ground, and I knew that if I ran in the cold and got all wet and gross, I would just get in my nice, warm car and drive home for a nice, warm shower. So I hit the treadmill for 8 miles of “hill” intervals, then lifted.

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This is my “taking a selfie at the gym is awkward” face. 

Tuesday: My PT doesn’t want me running more than 5 miles on the treadmill, and I found out why: the ol’ hammy was pretty sore on Tuesday. I listened to it  (praise me, please), and did a made-up-by-me spin bike session for 40 minutes, then did some core work.

Wednesday: I couldn’t take any more indoor stuff, so even though it was still cold and icy, I bundled up and headed out for 8.3. I was an ice cube when I got home, but ice cubing is better than indooring.
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Thursday: Rest day.

Friday: Again, it was super cold, and again, I needed to lift some weights, so again, I hit the treadmill. Capped it at 5 like not-an-idiot.

Saturday: We had a Skirt Sports Ambassador meet-up, which are always super fun. We ran along the Boulder Creek Path (I think? Goose Creek Path? Something Creek Path). There was nobody my pace, so I jogged along with a few different groups and sometimes alone for 6 miles. Then, we had an oatmeal bar and tried not to buy all the things. Even though we’re supposed to take lots of pictures and spread the love at these things, I’m the actual worst and only took two pictures, neither of which turned out. Just imagine a lot of women having a good time, okay?

Sunday: Finally, the weather turned, and Sunday was in the 40s: perfect for 10 miles with 3 at goal pace. Last time I did this workout, my splits were way off. This time was much better: the goal pace miles were 6:55, 6:53, 6:55. I don’t think that “just under 7” is my goal pace for Horsetooth, because of the hills, but it is for the Skirt Sports 13er in June, so that’s what I’m basing training paces on.
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Week 7 Total Mileage: 37.3

Week 8: February 26-March 4

Monday: 3.6-mile recovery run, nice and slow, followed by a bunch of stretching and foam rolling.

Tuesday: 7 miles easy, then strength training. If last week was brutally cold and snow, this week more than made up for it. I was in capris and a T-shirt and got too hot.

Wednesday: Tempo intervals: 3-mile warm-up, 3×1-mile at tempo with 90 seconds rest, 3(ish)-mile cool down. I did the tempo part on hills because I guess tempo intervals don’t suck enough already? Either way, it was a beautiful day and a good, solid run.

Thursday: Yoga to stretch out yesterday’s hard workout

Friday: It was 65 degrees. I  told myself to stay at work and get some things done, but… it was 65 degrees. So I ran 8 glorious miles, then strength trained. I regret nothing.

Saturday: Another downright amazing day of weather. I hoped to run some trails in the foothills, but after last week’s snow and this week’s sun, all the trail reports said they were a muddy mess. Instead, I ran 14 miles on the Poudre Trail (a paved bike path that connects Greeley to Fort Collins). My legs were a bit tired from Friday’s workout, so I took it easy,  especially at the beginning, and just enjoyed soaking up the sun.
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Sunday: My training plan said 4 miles, but my body (especially Mr. Hammy) was tired and a little sore after yesterday’s long run, so I rested. See that? I may actually be getting wiser in my old age.

Week 8 Total Mileage: 41.6.

These last two weeks felt good. I feel like I’m slowly returning to myself, and that’s a really, really good feeling.

 

I ask the same questions every time. Tell me something new.