Back When Running Was Simple

by - Thursday, April 24, 2014

I remember a time when running was simple -- when I ran purely for the joy of running, even though I was slow (so, so slow -- 12 minute miles slow). A time when I didn't care about splits or pace or heart rate.

I remember when I used to wake up in the mornings, lace up my sneakers and head out my parents' front door to log the miles I needed to train for my first marathon before leaving to head to my first full-time summer internship.

Pretty views on my runs in PA

I remember spending Friday evenings driving around in my car down long and windy country roads, watching the trip counter so I could plan a route for the next day's long run because I didn't have a Garmin and I had never heard of MapMyRun (it may not even have existed back then).

I remember waking up early to go on said long runs, scarfing a peanut butter PowerBar and grabbing a lemon-lime Gatorade out of the fridge to carry in my hand. (Not in a fancy water bottle with a nice hand strap or something).

I remember my mom warning to me to watch out for skunks because in the country those are problems you might have in the pre-dawn hours.

Running was simple back then.

When I was training for my first marathon, I was so proud every time I finished a long run, hit a new distance or maybe ran a tiny bit faster.

Somewhere in the last eight years, I lost the simplicity and the joy of just running. I started taking distance running for granted. A 10 miler wasn't anything special, it was just another item I had to check off my really long to-do list.

Look at all my tech gear...Philly Marathon 2010

I struggled to find routes I loved in the city. I missed my open windy country roads with pretty scenery. There's a freedom to those roads that I just don't feel dodging angry drivers in DC.

So running lost some of its glitz and shine. What used to be my stress relieving "me time" started becoming an uninspired chore.

I wasn't running fast enough, long enough, hard enough. My times weren't improving, I was sidelined with injuries. I was running on routes I hated.

Well that run didn't go as planned. Thank goodness for @arcticease
Injuries upon injuries

Everything about my running felt forced and miserable.

And all this really hit me when I was home in PA for Easter. I went out for two runs while I was there on those same windy country roads that I logged miles and miles on while training for my first marathon.

I had no Garmin, no fancy gear and I felt the biggest sense of freedom in my running that I had in a long, long time. I didn't care about pace or time or even really distance.

It felt like I was a newbie runner again, experiencing the simple joys of feeling my legs moving, my heart pumping, my lungs enjoying the clean, fresh country air.

I felt free.

And now that I'm back in DC, I've been trying to find ways to replicate that here. No I don't have beautiful country roads, but there are some nice trails, and you really can't beat the views of some of the monuments. I've been leaving Garmin at home, not worrying about pace or time.

C and O trail. About ten miles in to this run
One of many DC trails

Monument from hains point. Almost 13 miles in. Jefferson from same spot on Haines point.
Washington and Jefferson

Right now, I'm just trying to rediscover that simple joy and freedom I used to get from lacing up my shoes and heading out the front door.

I don't know that I'll ever be able to find it in DC the way I can so easily find it in wide open spaces, but I can certainly try.

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  1. Glad you are finding your love of running again. I would be happy to run a 12 min mile and don't think that it slow at all. I guess it is all about perspective.

  2. I swear, as I read your posts, I feel like you are talking about my life right, my running, my training. I have been running since I was eleven and I will be twenty-one this year. It has been a long battle and I am learning to unplug, take in the world, and focus on me. I am learning to love running again because I know pace will come. Checking my watch like a crazy person and running just to get done are not going to help me. Running for the love of it will. We all have highs and lows, keep up the good work and remember why you fell in love in the first place.

  3. Leaving the Garmin at home for easy mid-week runs is a great way to enjoy running and remember why you love it. If you are going out for "about 45 minutes," does it matter if you go 40 minutes or 50, and if you are running 9 minute miles or 10 minute miles? Not really. More important to keep enjoying the sport.

  4. I get that a lot too. The novelty of ironman training has totally worn off and I'm stuck in the routine of it all now. Other things get in the way and I never get everything done. ugh.