The highs and lows and highs of running
No I’m not talking about the runner’s high. The truth is — I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced that “high” but more on that some other time.
What I’m referring to right now is the overall joy of running. I’ve been consistently running since 2013 with my mileage growing each year until 2017/2018 where I plateaued. For the last 7–8 years entering 2020, I loved going outside and hitting the pavements — no matter the season. In fact, one could argue that I loved running during the cold winter months more so than the hot summer months of NYC (there’s a lot of reasons for this but I’ll spare you the details).
Running was and still is freeing.
It’s a chance for me to be alone and experience the world around me at my pace and at my choosing. While running certainly can be a social sport, it’s not one for me. I would much rather lace up my sneakers and go outside alone than run with friends (no offense folks). It’s where I am my best in many ways. My chance to think things through; solve some problems; or do nothing whatsoever but run.
Yet when 2020 came around.. something wasn’t quite right. Yes the pandemic hasn’t helped but it’s too easy for me to blame it on the pandemic or the ensuing lockdown here in NYC. No ultimately I think I went through a burnout period with running.
2019 was a banner year for me when it came to my health. I had lost the most weight ever that summer thanks in large part to going through Whole30 during the month of July as well as consistently going out on a progressively longer long runs during the summer month’s weekends. I clocked personal bests in marathon times (overall in Chicago and a PB for the NYC marathon) as well as the NYC 60K in Nov. I felt absolutely great physically.
Yet looking back now, I realize I’ve been awfully tired since 2020 started.
I’ve been tired both physically and mentally for much of the 1st half of this year. It’s had a big effect on my overall demeanor, motivation and energy levels. The pandemic certainly didn’t help either (nor the day-in and day-out news coverage of how shitty a world we live in these days). As such.. the months of March, April, and the first half of May have been a real struggle for me — especially when it came to my desire to go outside and put one foot in front of another.
But you know that saying — the hardest part us stepping out the door? It’s so damn true. I never really had that problem until this year and I was witnessing it big time. I knew if I could simply lace up and step out that door (I had no problems lacing up to walk my dogs tho) then I would be able to get myself going — at least for that moment in time.
And so.. that’s what happened a few weeks ago. I had signed up for the Virtual Brooklyn Half simply because I knew I could run that distance at a moment’s notice (well.. as it turned out I couldn’t do it well). I forced myself outside and ran the three bridges connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan — Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and Williamsburg Bridge. It wasn’t pretty but I completed the Virtual Half in a very slow 2:20+ but shit.. I got it done.
For whatever reason that half turned something back on inside of me. It was the spark I needed to rediscover the joys of running. Here I am two+ weeks later, and I find myself thinking about running more consistently again.
Perhaps it’s because the temperatures are climbing again. Or perhaps it’s due to the fact that the coronavirus outbreak here in NYC has eased (if only it was true for the rest of the nation and world). Or perhaps it’s simply the fact that I’m trying my hardest to step out that door again. OR perhaps it was that virtual half.
Whatever it was, I’m slowly rediscovering the joys of running. To simply be with the road or trail ahead of me without worrying about any goal or time or measure of distance. To simply take one step and then another. To enjoy the neighborhood; the park; the city; and the world around me via a single step at a time.
I’m discovering those highs again.