Is there anything more basic and simple than running ? Mankind has been doing it since before we even walked upright. It’s an instinctive action for any creature with legs. So if the act of running is so ingrained in our subconscious, and we spend thousands of hours practicing it, and crazy amounts of money for just the right shoes, clothes, gadgets, and accessories, why is the “Perfect Run” so incredibly rare ?
I’m certainly not eloquent or prosaic enough to adequately describe the perfect run. I could use a form of The Supreme Court’s definition of pornography; “ I know it, when I see it” !! I think the best way to describe it is when your physical, mental, and spiritual selves are in perfect harmony. ( I’m using the word “spiritual” to refer to your sense of self, emotional well being, and general outlook on things, if that has a religious connotation for you, that’s fine, but it doesn’t have to. ) Maybe I should be calling it the “perfect moment” because I suppose if that happened at any time it would be perfect. For me, however, those moments only happen when I’m running, and don’t happen all that often, but when they do, it’s absolutely blissfully magic. Running feels effortless, you are only mildly aware of your stride or the impact of your feet on the ground, there’s no gasping for air, or feeling of exertion. It’s exhilarating, and you feel like you could run forever. Eventually you’ll come to an intersection, or hear a car horn, or some other interruption will bring you back to reality, but you will have been forever changed as a runner and a person, in a good way.
I’ve been thinking about this lately because I have a race approaching in a few days and want everything to be just right. It won’t be. I know that. There will be hiccups in my planning, gaps in my training, and logistical snafu’s that can’t be anticipated or prevented. I’m running a distance I’ve never actually completed, in a city 1400 miles away, with no idea how to get from my hotel to the race, for a 6:00 am starting time. If I can’t make the “perfect run” happen when I want it to on my home route after sleeping in my own bed, and running 4 or 5 times per week for years, what are the odds that I can plan to have a really good run on race day ? The truth is, it doesn’t matter. There are some things I can control, and I have to do the best with those that I can. The things I can’t control, I just have to deal with as they happen, and not let them derail my efforts, or cause me to lose my focus. Then I’ll have the best race I can, and learn what I can do better the next time.
For those of you that have never felt “The Perfect Run” just know that it’s possible. That some day when you don’t expect it, your feet, body and mood will feel lighter, the road will slope downhill, the sunshine will get stronger, and the world will become a better place. It’s a glorious feeling, and once you experience it, you will chase it for the rest of your life.