When I start to feel this way I know it’s time for some recovery. Last night I had my first great run in a few weeks. I had no idea how far I would go, or how fast. I just went with it. I ran from home through the picturesque Balboa Park exploring little areas I usually zip on by during a speed workout. I felt gratitude for the sun beaming down on me and the perfectly clear blue sky. The smell of flowers enveloped me as I whisked through the park, relaxed and free.
I ventured out of the park and down 5th Avenue. Although I walk down this street daily it looked different as I ran. The palm trees lining the street soared high above me in a way I never noticed. I smiled at people walking down the street and to my surprise they all smiled right back. For a moment I imagined I was in a music video, dramatically running in slow motion.
I thought about my family that I miss and pictured each one of their faces. I could have been moving at 8 minute pace or 10 minute pace; I had no idea and I didn’t care either way. I was treasuring each stride.
I became overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for so many things – big and small. I was feeling thankful for my healthy body, my accepting family, reuniting with my best friend, the almost seamless transition of our life from Chicago to San Diego, my job with a fantastic organization and the list of gratitude goes on, but I will stop because it includes everything from frozen yogurt to puppies.
I needed this run. I was able to reflect upon all of the things I have been forgetting lately. Some runners have a habit of clinging tightly to their training program and becoming excessively structured. Structure is great but overload can lead to burn out and even injury. I am guilty of this myself from time to time, although I make an effort to stop and smell the roses whenever I can. I have learned not to treat every run like a work-out. There is a reason training programs have cut-back weeks and recovery runs. Use them!
Has it been awhile since you’ve had a run filled with joy? Do you push yourself hard every single time? Do you use a watch to monitor your pace on every run?