Runners Delight: 5 Things An Old Love (Re)Taught Me
It's been about four years since I've jogged more than 3 miles. The last time I did it was when I was marathon training for Miami. Although the Miami Marathon is a nice "beginner's" marathon, 26 miles is still 26 miles. I tell everyone the story about how I trained for the marathon, but when it was time to go down to Miami to run, I headed out to San Diego. Being in Miami, party capital, and not being able to fully enjoy myself or drink because I would still be in training mode seemed like a cruel joke. I was young.
After coming back from San Diego, which I instantly fell in love with, distance running just didn't appeal to me. Light jogs and light sprints kept me going mostly. I moved to Miami some years later and initially I tried to get back into distance running on the beach, but my heart just wasn't in it. Every time I saw that ocean, I became disinterested and went to the shore to meditate—it was more important to me at the time. Yesterday I figured I'd go for a nice three mile run on the Venetian, away from the temptation of the shoreline. I learned some things:
1. I Missed It
It's a familiar feeling. Like a hug from a loved one you haven't seen in a awhile. The movements of your leg, the sweat on your face, back and chest, and the moisture in your shorts as you become soaked are all familiar. The initial uneasy feeling when you hit that first quarter mile and wonder "why am I doing this again" immediately gets replaced with with a huge smile across your face. I didn't think I'd miss it. I figured it would just be something to do. But it's something to love.
2. Runners Euphoria Is Unique
I've been a fitness fanatic for bout 12 years. With the exception of biking, because you're sitting down mostly, nothing is as great as Runner's High. You never know when to expect it because It never happens at the same moment twice. It could be mile 1, mile 5, or mile 10. But when it hit's me, I feel like I'm running on clouds and away from everything. It's more than just a second wind, it's a feeling of being invincible.
3. The Wall
The opposite of the Runner's High is the wall. While on this run I thought about when the wall might hit me. My walls are usually in multiples of three. When I first started training I couldn't get past three miles. I was stuck there for about two weeks. One day I hit the three mile mark and kept going and going and going. I jumped right up to six miles with a lot of extra effort of course. I kept training and then six miles become my wall. I was devastated. Then again, one day I kept pushing and hit ten miles. So now whenever I think about getting stuck at a mile mark, I know I can just keep hitting it and my body will adjust down the line. Patience is key!
4. Be Free When you Run
If anyone wanted to torture me, all they would have to do is dump water on my feet while I had sneakers and socks on. Once the itching started, I'd cave instantly. My favorite type of jog involves a light drizzle. I love when the raindrops hit my body as I stride. Naturally the floor gets wet and as time goes by the water seeps into my sneakers and my socks. Even with that I still used to hop and skip around puddles. I fear wet socks. No more. As the rain poured on, I realized it was too late. I leaped into the puddle and I smiled. The only thing I need to avoid are cars. Everything else is fair game.
5. Listen To Your Body
I can credit yoga mostly for this, but running put it in a different perspective. When I run I am more aware of every individual body part: relaxed shoulders, loose hands, long legs, light feet, strong core, even paced strides, lactic build-up in my quads, heaviness in my chest—running is a full body sport. Sometimes your legs might be tired but your lungs are able to withstand more. Sometimes your lungs are done for but your legs feel strong. I had to realize the difference in the two and adjust my run to get the greatest benefit. I can rest my lungs for a bit with a quick walk and keep going if my legs feel strong, but if my legs are taxed, I have to respect that and call it a day.
(Re)Learn from old and new loves.