May 20, 2008 at 9:06 pm #9398
I hope this doesn't come through as to much of a rant….recently I developed a chronic injury, and have been more or less sidelined from running for a few months. I've spent time cross training and doing other things to try and stay healthy, but not running. Before these last 3 months I used to run hard, run a lot and run to be as fast as I could at whatever goal I had set. In short, I trained. Taking running away for a few months has changed my perspective some, on why I run. I have this picture at my desk my wife took of me when we were college, backpacking in Ireland. I was finishing up a run in a small town we were staying – it was lightly raining, but warm, nothing in the background except green hills and sheep, and this stretch of road was empty and I was just kind of cruising down this road in the picture smiling.
Anyway, the way I felt in that picture is the reason I personally run. Yesterday i was able to get out there and kinda cut loose for the first time in what feels like a long time – feel the heavy oxygen in my lungs and legs burn. It felt good. That is why I run. Not all the goals I've set for myself, as I suppose I used to think. They were a biproduct, the picture is why I run.
Take it away for a minute, and you get down to the core.
May 21, 2008 at 1:22 pm #25201
from last year… I was at Boston, knew my right foot wasn't 100%, got to mile 15 and knew I should stop, but I had worked so hard to get there I pulled into the firestation (just past 17) to have it taped… gimped to the finish… the resultant injuries (PF/heel bursitis & compensation) made me wonder what possessed me to finish… the podiatrist who was the last stop (after my massage therapist & an accupuncturist had unravelled most of the compensation issues) told me that at my “age” I would probably have to “manage” my issues from here on out…
but every time I get past the first mile of the day I realize that while I will never be fast or competitive I LOVE to run… if I never ran another race it would be okay… but I also enjoy marathons and plan to run them as often as the rest of my life allows me to, and do them with the hope of not hurting myself further… so I'll be part of the embarassingly slow group till I figure out how to “manage” to get more fit without hurting myself… I'm not going to stop marathoning just because I can't pull a PR every time, just because I have no hope of a BQ, just because it's a crazy thing to do… when I get to mile 18 (most times) I can reflect on my fitness and know that I'll be able to walk the next day and I'll be wondering why I didn't run just a little faster…
my husband has 'the picture' on his desk, it's (only) a half marathon finish, run at Virginia Beach… I had sent him the link with a note to look at how my (short) hair had 'punked-up' from the salt from my sweat and looked terrible… he bought the darn thing and told me that while I thought I looked horrible it made him proud to know that I was strong… and I was grinning because I was having FUN!
May 21, 2008 at 2:14 pm #25202
While a much shorter time away from running, I went through the same feelings as you about 5 years ago. Dealing with a misdiagnosed injury and a doctor telling me I'd never again be able to run the way I once did, I went through a lot of reflection will spinning away on the exercise bike.
We (or at least most of us here, I'm sure) are runners. We just don't get the same thing from other sports that we get from running. Just like a cyclist who doesn't find joy in running, I don't find joy in cycling (at least anything beyond casually tooling around town). I used to think I run because I'm a competitive runner. I run for the races. Now, I know that I race because I'm a runner who is competitive. While I train for the races, I run for the joys I find in running.
No matter what happens with my competitive nature, I'll always be a runner. I suspect I'll also always be a competitor but I know I'll always be a runner deep down, even if something would happen that would keep me away from running. Why? Because running is what I love to do. Whether I'm doing a grueling training run in preparation for my next big race, just out enjoying a relaxed run, in middle of a race, or anything else, it doesn't matter. If I'm running, I'm doing what I love to do. I suspect this is the case for many of us here. While we are serious about our competitive goals, we are runners first.
Recently, there was a discussion of people from high school and college teams disappearing from the racing scene once they graduated. I'm convinced that at least most of these people were competitors first, runners second. They ran because they loved to compete and running was the sport they could compete in. The ones who stuck around are mostly the ones who were runners first, competitors second. They can't walk away because that would be walking away from who they are. That's why you are coming back from this injury and reveling in moments like that recent run, that's why Rita is continuing to run marathons at whatever pace she can handle, that's why people like Chris just can't walk away from running even when doctors tell them it's all over, and that's why I picture myself 40 years from now being that 71 year old guy you see at races trying to mix it up with people half his age.
May 21, 2008 at 3:40 pm #25203
People used to ask me why I run. I told them because I can. That was what I believed. I didn't believe that I could like the pain, the work…etc.
Something keeps me coming back. I must just like too much about it. I started believing a few years back that I actually do like to run….huh.
May 21, 2008 at 3:47 pm #25204
I definetly agree Ryan. It funny you bring up cycling. I have a freind here at work who is a triathlete. Roughly, this translates into (for him at least) a talented cyclist, a runner a distant second (for him putting in the training runs for Ironman is something of a chore) and as he puts it, anyone can swim. When all this began a number of months ago, he wanted to cheer me up and insisted we get in a ride together. He was determined to show me that cycling could replace running for me. Long story short – not even close. It wasn't even the same ball park for me. Funny how things work that way.
For him…putting 50 mi's on a bike sunday afternoon is a release. For me, its going out and pushing through some hard miles – feeling just a little burn from the tempo in the legs and lungs.
May 21, 2008 at 7:37 pm #25205
Chris, I think I saw that transition from a competitive runner to a runner who competes, as I put it in my previous post. This is why it has been so difficult for me to see you go through what you have gone through. If you were still a competitive runner, you would have walked away and thought nothing of it. You'd probably never have come back here and, had you run at all, it would have been once a year at the alumni meet. However, after becoming a runner who competes, I knew that wasn't going to be something you could do. Running became more than just a means to release your competitive spirit. That's why I'm also not surprised to see you returning now.
TG, to each his own I guess. I can't take cycling. Some people can't take running. As for your friend's comment about the tri, I'm proof that he's wrong on the “anyone can swim” account. I can stay above water for a while but my swimming abilities are so limited, I'd end up at the bottom of the lake if I even attempted an Olympic distance tri. Anyway, your friend has cycling and you have running. It's great that you both found what you were meant for, both because you can excel at your sports while maintaining healthy lifestyles and because you found your personal ways to get that all-important release.
May 22, 2008 at 5:57 pm #25206
If they figure out how to make a pill that gives me the peace of mind and clarity an hour run does, I'd think about buying it. But until then, I guess I'll keep running.
I love pinning on a number and mixing it up, but I don't have to race. Having a race on the calendar definitely motivates me, but so does being able to eat what I want? I guess I have lots of reasons for running.
I suppose I should just be happy that I can.
May 22, 2008 at 7:25 pm #25207
I read this forum every so often, and this is the best post I've read in a while.
I'm 43 and had not ran since high school until 3 years ago. After going to Wyoming hunting, I realized I needed to get in better shape. While not in bad shape, if I was going to do it again and enjoy it I needed to step it up. Taking the advice of one of the best back country bowhunters and a dedicated long distance runner, Cameron Hanes, I began running. Little did I know that I would enjoy it.
After the initial shock of how out of shape I actually was, and my body began to improve, I began to look forward to the long runs, how they made me feel mentally and physically.
Then my competitive nature kicked in. Starting with 5k's, the 10ks, then a 1/2. How do I compare to others my age, how fast can I run one I would ask myself?
In February while training for my first marathon, I came down with a stress fracture and had to take time off. While spinning on the bike during this time, I looked forward to the time when I could go out for a easy long run and realized that I like to run and I compete as a way to keep it interesting to push me and how it made me feel when I crossed the finish line.
May 22, 2008 at 7:51 pm #25208
I understand and can relate completely Phil……thanks for the post.
rob – “Just being happy you can” is well put.
After this injury onset, I was disappointed that I couldn't participate in the marathon I was training for…an the other lead up races I had planned. But the difference is that, the goal became not what I wanted, but what I needed. I WANTED to compete in some races, but I NEEDED to run. I felt that if I could get myself back to running every day, that I would be alright. It was pretty rough mentally before I could pull some miles in again…
And I am just happy that I can run…
May 23, 2008 at 1:16 am #25209
And I am just happy that I can run…
Never forget that feeling. That's where I was 5 years ago and, while I've had many frustrating runs since that time, I've never taken the ability to run for granted. I value every run, no matter how good or bad it goes, simply because I am out there running. There's no better feeling.
May 23, 2008 at 2:07 pm #25210
Well said Ryan…..because I definetly did take it for granted before this.
And has each run get better, and I (seem to be) pulling myself through this injury….I want to jump out of my skin with elation.
happy running everyone.
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