This is Running

I’ve grown a greater respect for the complicated dance that is involved in aligning the variables to be able to run well. I used to just go out and run. if it was a bad day, I assumed I sucked that day and let myself believe the voice in my head that told me so. There’s more to it than that though.

I think of running as this thing that is greater than myself. Every day I set out to tackle it and to go on the quest of conquering what it holds. But when I do that, on any given day, I come at it with different weapons and different armour. And lately, a different sense of self-compassion and gentleness with myself and the mile splits I can produce.

These last five days of running haven’t been okay with me. I’ve been disappointed by my paces, discouraged by my progress (or lack thereof). The forward trajectory of my training doesn’t seem to really be moving forward, and in many single incidences, it’s a struggle and a slog and a more of a gear grinding push. “Running is never linear,” I whisper to myself.

I could stand back and blame it on the weather, fighting several days of rain and wind, that nearly gave me deja-vu of Boston 2018: each run has been in the early morning dark hours, on the slippery, slick sidewalks. I could blame it on the fact that I was in a course all weekend, starting my runs early to make it to the sessions, and mentally at capacity from learning and listening. I could also blame it on the lack of sleep inherent with said demands.

It is human nature to blame our shortcomings and failures on something or somebody else, and take all the credit solo for our success. But I’m not interested in the blaming. I’m interested in coming back to that part of my mind that reminds me, “yeah, but it’s okay.” It’s okay that your running felt a little off and out of place, because so many of the other factors didn’t align to make it anything but. 

And then today I did speedwork. The thing about running ruts, or a few bad days of running, is it’s like this hole that you can let yourself fall into. When you run these days that feel bad, and you tell yourself you are bad, your mind believes it: and the next day you run slower paces again and you dig yourself deeper into the hole. When does the shovel show up for you to dig yourself out? Here’s the thing: it doesn’t. You have to go get it.

When the other factors work in your favour and your sleep is on point and your stress and mental load is less, and you know there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to run your prescribed paces, go after them. Remind your mind and your body that you are capable, and that the ability is inside of you. It might be deep and buried, but it’s there. Be brave in the face of that voice that tries to tell you otherwise and have courage against the recent run history that tries to knock you down.

Zane Robertson says it as “the body remembers.” When we remind it of its strength and ability, when we feed it and fuel it and give it the tools, and then mentally push it forward, it remembers what it is capable of. And that is true for after a long stint from an injury, a slew of off days, or just a bit of a running rut.

The process isn’t linear and it never guarantees progress or success. But it is a process. It is a journey and a trajectory. Some days, I know my runs end up off the path or I travel astray and it takes me a few days to get back on. I have a bigger respect now for the pieces that have to come together in order to get back on.

But when I got back on, and hit those paces in my speedwork session today and I felt that fire inside of me, and that resilience behind the mind, I was reminded of how empowering it is to go after something that is this big. “Run your run,” I reminded myself, because you still have it inside of you.

Laura PeillComment