Monday, March 5, 2012

The Privilege of Running

You do not have to run, you get to run!

The first time I heard this phrase, it really stuck with me because it embodied who I used to be, who I became, and who I am right now.  Many of times when we run to lose weight or to burn off that big bowl of ice-cream we ate the night before, running becomes a chore - something that we must do in order to counteract previous actions.  And once upon a time, this is how I viewed running.  It was something that I had to do.  I did not a community of runners to share running with, I did not have a running partner to spend hours talking with while pounding the pavement, and I did not view my workouts as a means to improving race times and reaching race goals.  Instead, it was about keeping my weight and whatever magical number I needed to be at for that day, and honestly I hated running because of it.  I would dread running the night before, be elated when it was over - not because I had accomplished something but because it was over - and just ran because something told me I had to do it.  Running, in short, was not much fun.

Then things started to change.  Not all at once, but over time a series of events made me realize this and made me even stop running altogether.  I proclaimed to many that I was done with strict running schedules, running when I did not feel like it, and pushing myself to the point of countless injuries and unhappiness.  Yet, just as I made these "proclamation"  something happened, I fell in love with running.  I started running just for fun as I have said.  I thought about joining a relay team, not worrying about my times or particular races and just did what I wanted.  And as strange as it seems, within months, I was back to where I started - running races, pushing for different time goals etc. - but this time it was different.  No longer did I hate running or dread a long run.  Instead long runs became the highlight of my week - a privilege timed for me to go out with my friend and run miles upon miles.  I no longer looked at running as a way to allow me to eat the extra bowl of ice-cream but saw food as a way to fuel my runs.  Schedules were important because I had goals - I wanted to hit my speed and hill workouts to become a better runner not a skinner person.

I promise I really am having fun here..

When my doctor and I started discussing taking a break from running and training as well as possibly trying to gain some weight,  my reaction made me doubt myself.  Do I really run for fun if I am this upset about losing my speed workouts and long runs or do I still just use running as a way to remain "trim?"  I was nervous and ashamed that what I had boosted as an activity I did for all the right reasons were actually the wrong ones (I am not saying that there is something wrong with using running to lose weight, but the way in which I personally used and did it was unhealthy).  It took weeks and a conversation from a very wise friend to realize that this was not the case.  That yes I do run for fun but that means something different to me than just running without a care in the world instead it is the place where I allow my Type A personality to shine through, where I focus on goals and training, but also socialization and that all of this is ok.  When I realized this, it became a lot easier for me to be gentle with myself and mourn my break in training, the loss of races and endurance, and changes in my life.

I have such wise friends

Thus, once again I am changing my outlook on running for now.  I am still allowed to run but it has to be at a pace that does not get me too hot or my heart rate elated.  It also cannot be more than 5 miles at a time 10 miles max for the week.   At first, I felt as if what was the point.  If I cannot train and run my way, why bother.  I listened to Aaron and others talk about training and their races and felt sad and left out.  Yesterday, however I realized something just because I cannot run like I am used to running does not mean I cannot still be a runner and part of the running community.    With this in mind, I joined Aaron for his 4-mile race yesterday.  I found a new way to enjoy running.  I wore my fun skirt from this lady and I ran side-by-side with my husband cheering as other runners ran past us and a strange thing happened - I still felt that great "runner's high."  Not because I just PR'd or because I hit my goal but because I was out there running, screaming at the top of my lungs (to Aaron's dismay), and enjoying the moment.

Who things Janine needs to start selling these skirts - they are amazing!

Maybe there is something to this "running for fun" thing after all. Tomorrow means 2 miles with my husband and Friday a few miles with a good friend and I could not be more excited.

I think this is Aaron's "why won't she shut up face"

What is your relationship with running like? What does running for fun mean to you?


  1. Im glad you have this outlook... positive!! I love cheering on the crowd. :) my sis did say her and her hubs will be "those people" who we hate on the sidelines drinking coffee..... hahaha. Xoxo!

  2. I generally run 3-4 times a week, when I only run by myself running seems more like a chore, but since I started running with a partner once a week running is what it should! I'm thankful everyday I'm able to do any sort of activity because I know how quickly things can change. Positivity is the best medicine :)