So I just got back from 8 miles in the cold rain. There wasn’t a lot of joy on the roads today. I daydreamed for a while about running some trails on a warm sunny day with some friends, thoughts of work kept intruding into my consciousness, I never really warmed up, my fingers were numb for the whole run, and the battery on my iPod died about 15 minutes into the run. It may have been the best run I’ve had in months. You may be thinking “This blogging running dude is nuts” to which I would reply, Welcome to my blog, you are obviously new. Anyone who has spent any time here at all knows I’m completely nuts. So…why do I consider such a miserable run one of my best ? Because I’m chasing more than just a faster running time when I run. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love running for it’s own sake and the joy that it brings, and I feel great when I set a new personal best, but running to improve running is a little like teaching students to get a PhD. If any of my readers have a PhD, don’t worry, I’ll try not to confuse you, but going to school for a doctorate, pretty much guarantees that you’re going to stay in school as a professor. You enter the academic equivalent of an endless loop. You become a PhD to teach other students to get PhD’s so they can teach others to get more PhD’s so they ….well, you get the idea. Running just to be a better runner doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Why not just stop running and then it doesn’t matter if you’re a good runner.
Everyone has their own reasons for lacing them up and pounding the pavement for miles on end when their sensible friends are still sleeping, or lamenting the awful weather from the comfort of their homes. I run because it helps me enjoy myself. I have more energy, determination, motivation, stamina, and am just generally in a better mood when I’m running on a regular basis. It makes me healthier, keeps my weight down, sets a good example for my kids, and allows me to be more patient with them, and to require less patience from my wife. I’m sure I’m not easy to live with, but I know running me is easier to deal with than non running me. I can usually leave the stress of my job out on the roads and come back with a clear head, a few problems solved, and a new way of looking at some things that might have been bothering me.
Running on a crappy day isn’t easy, but once you get out there, and get as wet as you can possibly get, you start to feel kind of good about it. You start to think to yourself, I know a lot of people wouldn’t have gone out on a day like this. I might have a little more of something than they do. Be it determination, or dedication, or desire, or some other noun that begins with a “d” it’s nice to know that you are at least in the middle of the bell curve for it. You shouldn’t feel too superior, but a little self righteousness might be appropriate. Then when you get to work and something is difficult, you can tell yourself that you know you’ve got more of those “D-qualities” than a lot of people and if anyone can get through whatever crisis you’re in, you can too. The mental aspect of running is harder on those bad days, so I think whatever mental benefits you get from a run on a good day, you get more on a bad day. The next time you have a situation that you think is going to be difficult, you’ll hesitate a little less before you get started. When your friends and co workers get grumpy because of the bad weather, you’re able to appreciate that you’re inside now and have your run behind you. You know that it sucks out there and you went anyway. You should feel good about that, and feeling good is what it’s all about.
Just don’t stop running !