Sometimes I just want to write about running. And I don’t mean the fast sexy runs within races, or even fancied-footed track workouts, I mean the runs that are short, painful, late in the afternoon, and usually my 2nd or 3rd work out of the day. The runs that make me want to slam my head on the pillow the instant I finish lacing up my shoes. The runs where civilians stuck in traffic stare, gawk, and honk at me in wonder and shock, because it is hot outside, during cocktail hour, and I am moving slowly. They don’t get it, but I do.
These runs are my favorite.
I learned early in my running life that these fatiguing runs are what separate exercisers from competitors. Thank you, Coach Ede.
I remember the first time I completed a 2-a-day work out in the summer of 1993, before my freshman year of high school. I was thirteen, and loved every minute of that excruciating day. The first run of the day was longer and quicker than the second, but it was the second, easier run that transformed me. I could feel, taste, hear, and digest every ounce of effort I put out during those four easy miles. At first my body was limp with disbelief, because it had never been asked to put in this kind of effort after hours of rest and relaxation, but after some encouragement from its Team Captain, my legs, she came around.
My legs wanted to run.
They always do.
Running is simple, and yet it requires everything we have to give. I have depended on running to maintain my sanity since I was thirteen years old; that’s a heavy burden, and it isn’t fair, but it is what it is. I run because I need to. It is how I work out stress, how I use my imagination, and how I become my favorite version of myself.
When runs go well, it’s awesome, but rough runs are even more important.
The second run of my day is usually gruesome, but beautiful. It’s how it should be, my legs stirring up and leading my heart and mind on an adventure of self-discovery through pain, sweat, breathlessness, and exhilaration.
It’s the best feeling in the world.