Running Away

Running can get a bad rap for being a sport with little variety. People say it’s “boring,” or “gets old” — and to each his own, I know it isn’t for everyone. For me, though, running is anything but monotonous.

As a runner, I could address this common criticism from multiple angles. I could discuss various workouts and training for different distances. Or, I could talk about the importance of cross training, strengthening different muscle groups, stretching, eating right, and all that goes into becoming a strong runner.

I could go on and on, but one of the simplest things that I often think about is how there are many different kinds of runs.

Sometimes, you might go for a “fun” run (I know, any non-runners are probably laughing at this word choice). This entails just getting out in the fresh air to move your legs, chat with a friend, listen to upbeat music, or simply let your thoughts race without feeling weighed down by a single one. You have pep in your step, and you feel light, free, and calm. You come back refreshed, happy, and ready to take on the day.

Other times, you might go for a “serious” run, which is going out with a specific workout/pace/distance/time in mind. Due to my varsity cross-country and track background, I often take these pretty seriously. They’re tough runs, but they leave you feeling strong, confident, and determined to keep working even harder.

There are also runs in between these extremes, but I won’t bore you with an entire list. Probably the most common run for me is what I refer to as the “running away” run.

On these runs, I push myself and feel fast on my feet, but after a few minutes, my body falls into a comfortable rhythm and lets my mind get to work.

On these runs, I’m able to “run away” from my stresses, as I listen to music that matches my mood, or completely zone out and “run away” from reality for a while.

On these runs, I’m able to help my worries “run away,” as I sort things out, think things through, and gain clarity about whatever is on my mind.

When I get home, I feel like I’ve left it all out there on the trails, and I can resume my day prepared to deal with whatever challenges come my way.

These runs help me reset my attitude, strengthen my mind and body, and keep me moving forward on this path we call life.

In order to get through any of these runs, I have to start off with my morning fuel. Usually, this consists of coffee, some sort of protein bar or peanut butter with fruit, and my daily dose of blog reading.
It may not come as a surprise that I have different sneakers for different runs. These are just a few pairs from my rather extensive collection. Over 8 years of running = over 16 pairs of sneakers.
Many times when I set out for a run, I don’t know exactly where I’m going. I simply put one foot in front of the other and let the path take me wherever it may lead.
Other times, I know exactly where I’m going — a familiar trail, the painfully repetitive track, or the good old treadmill (some days better known as the “dreadmill”). No matter where the run takes place, the act of running takes me out of the monotony of my day and helps me escape reality.
During some tough runs, I suddenly reach a point where all my body wants to do is quit, which then begins to consume my thoughts. All I can focus on are the hard parts of running — the tired legs, screaming lungs, and racing heart — the things that make me want to stop.
But, I’ve learned over the years that once you push through the rough patches, you remember exactly why you never want to give up. Stepping out of your comfort zone and sticking with it are much more enjoyable and rewarding when you notice the beauty that surrounds you and appreciate the time you get to just be at peace with yourself.
In addition to being grateful for the time on the trails, remembering that simply being able to go out and run is a blessing in and of itself. I’ve been sidelined multiple times in my running career, so to me, injury prevention is key. I always make sure to hydrate, stretch, and roll out my muscles after every single workout.
Although the act of running is what this sport is centered around, there’s actually a lot more to being a runner than just running. Strengthening, toning, and cross training are great things to incorporate into a fitness routine, but rest days, adequate sleep, and good nutrition are vital to being a good runner, as well as to living a healthy life.
Sometimes the stars align and you reach your goals. You have a great run or race and go home with the ultimate runner’s high. Other times, things don’t go as planned. We all experience the good and the bad — it’s part of being an athlete. It’s part of being human. Whether you get a PR or come in dead last, all that matters is that you gave it your all. Plus, win or lose, you can always reward your efforts. I like to do so with an awesome meal…
…followed by chocolate.
The ability to run is something I don’t take for granted, and something that has helped me through the ups and downs of life. Regardless of my mood, the weather, or the kind of run I have, I always feel that my day was better because I ran. To me, running is a constant light that shines through no matter what, and I hope to never lose sight of it.