Since these legs and lungs aren't going to get themselves in peak condition without a little work on my part, I took to the road Saturday afternoon for a run. I did it again Sunday, pushing myself to run four miles in a little over 40 minutes. On Tuesday afternoon I was able to log another 2.5 miles between leaving work and picking up the girls. Yesterday The General had training which put him on the 6 am - 3 pm schedule. This meant the presence of another adult in the house allowing me the opportunity to get in an evening run after the girls were in bed. In less than a week I've logged about 12 miles of running (with the occasional 1-3 minute walk break as needed), and how do I feel about that? Amazing.
Most of you know that I was a runner through junior high and high school. I did okay in the sport of track and field, adopting it as "my" sport because it was the one where I actually seemed to show a little bit of ability. Now, I was no Flo-Jo but I enjoyed the training, the comradiere, and the discipline of the sport. Since graduating from high school fourteen years ago, my "running" has been defined as the occasional jog/stagger around town in a meager attempt at fitness or an ugly (very short) sprint around the yard during a game of tag with the girls. My endurance is pathetic, my pain threshold pitiful. Most people see running as a form of punishment (as is often the case in other sports like basketball or football, The General is quick to remind me), and it had gotten to the point where I was quickly adopting that same mind frame.
I used to love running. I loved the way my body felt when I was mid-race, like all systems were firing at their peak capacity. Now, all of the sudden I feel a shift taking place within me. After years of thinking that my running days were far behind me, I have realized that maybe I'm starting to enjoy it again.
- It's my time - even if it's just 20 minutes - without the demands of others.
- Running helps me clear my head, organize my thoughts, or provides me with the opportunity to not have to think at all. It's not often where I can find an activity that just allows my brain to shut down for awhile.
- It feels good to notice the changes that are already taking place in just a week's time. My breathing feels more controlled, my legs don't feel like they're made of concrete, and my ability to maintain a consistent pace across multiple miles is improving.
- I'm pushing my body to do things that I wasn't sure it would be able to do again. Do my knees hurt the day after a long run? Hell yes they do. But in some sick way that pain almost feels good. It feels amazing to know you have power and control over your body.
- The challenge of running is starting to become fun. Can I run farther than I did last time? Would it be possible to run another ten minutes? I'm often critical of myself, but after running four miles last weekend? I was damn proud of what I had just accomplished.
- Finding that "zone" where your body is moving, your mind is focused, and your breathing is even is almost like meditation (which doesn't happen on every run, trust me).
- I'm discovering and exploring new areas of the world around me not always seen from the front seat of my car. The extra exposure to the beautiful spring weather is an added bonus.
- I feel more motivated. Now, instead of feeling like working out is something I have to do, I look at it as something I want to do. I find myself looking forward to the opportunity to put feet to the pavement, even making time in my day to make that workout happen.
- Having an excuse to listen to your favorite music as it pumps through the ear buds is a nice benefit of time on the road as well.
- I love the almost euphoric feeling of the "runner's high". Just ask The General about my attitude after finishing a good run - he's usually the one that is subjected to my high-on-life, super philosophical tirades that come as a result of the endorphin rush.