Saturday, December 8, 2007
I was supposed to go to Team in Training practice today for my long run, but when I found out it was being held at the Subway Track again, I decided to make my own plan. My training plan dictated that I should run for an hour and twenty minutes. I knew that I could get creative and get in an hour an twenty minute run that did not involve running in circles around a track. Eleven and a half laps equals two miles? No thank you. So I took Niko up to the North Bivouac trailhead and ran for an hour and half outside.
Saturday is my day for the long run, which is my favorite. I know that all of the runs are important, but there is just something about the long run that until now I could not put my finger on. I discovered a little bit about why I love to run this weekend.
I have not always been a runner. In fact, I didn't start running until I was 25. I remember when I was younger and we were required to participate in Presidential Fitness tests where we had to run a mile. I hated it. It seemed like such a pointless thing to do. Why would I want to torture myself like that? I wanted to play a sport that had a purpose. Or one that allowed me to run fast for short distances. The meaning of the word endurance completely eluded me. I didn't see the value in running at all.
I think back to that time and I understand why I hear so many people today say, "Why would you want to run?" "I hate running." "I don't get it." I usually just shrug it off and never expect to be able to explain it to someone who doesn't run. I was inspired by an article that I read in Runner's World last night about the long run. The author used the word "symphonic" and it suddenly became clear in my head.
For the first few miles I struggle to get warmed up and it feels kind of awkward. I am forcing my feet to propel forward as I work to keep my upper body relaxed. Every nagging pain I have been feeling for the past week now suddenly comes to the forefront. After a few miles I feel the blood start to rush to my legs and arms and I loosen up. For the next mile I try to settle into a pace that feels comfortable, but an effort to keep up. The pain melts away.
That's when the symphony begins. The first thing I hear is my breathing. It's slow and rhythmic, but loud. Then my heartbeat chimes in. I notice the shush, shush of my wind jacket rustling as I swing my arms and the crunch, crunch, crunch of my shoes on the snow. Then I hear myself breathing again. And I feel good. My body is working hard to keep this rhythm, but my mind is calm. Every muscle in my body is working, but somehow I feel more relaxed than I ever have in my life. And I feel like I can go forever.
Eventually fatigue sets in and I slow down, but for a moment I feel as if I can do anything. That's not a bad feeling.