Ever since my bike accident a week ago, I’ve had to find an alternative workout. My shoulder is getting better only now, so CrossFit was pretty much out of the question. I grumbled at first when I realized that I had to cut my running break short, but ever since, something wonderful happened.
Now, see, after the Munich marathon in October and the Big Sur half marathon in November, I had ordered myself a long running break. Possibly to last well into the spring. Why?
Because I was spent. After two big races so shortly after one another, after having trained hard most of the year (I ran and PRed another half in the spring), I needed a break from running. I suffered from a lot of overuse injuries and most importantly, I didn’t enjoy running anymore. I was always training with strict focus and chasing paces and miles and splits and I was looking forward to not having to do any of that.
So when I realized I had to return to running after only 3 weeks of break, I wasn’t too happy. Having no other choice last Sunday, I accepted my situation for what it was. I put on my sneakers and I ran.
I was amazed how liberated I felt. How carefree. How joyous. It was a cold, wintery day and being outside felt wonderful. As I was running, I was thrilled to realize that I was actually excited about running. I loved it. I was having a good time.
Because it was a no-pressure-only-pleasure kind of run. I had kept it short on purpose (only a little over an hour), set my Garmin to run/walk intervals and well below what I knew I could do if I had to. I didn’t look at the pace and instead ran by feel. I ended up running at a decent pace and picked it up nicely toward the end. But solely because I wanted to. Because it felt good in that particular moment. Not because a training plan told me I had to run X miles at pace Y. My only goal for this run was to enjoy myself. And I knew that if I stopped having fun well before my planned time was up, well then, no big deal.
The joy from last week’s run kept me excited all through the week. Today I ran again, a little longer too. And I can’t wait for next week’s runs.
While I’m competitive and there’s obviously absolutely nothing wrong with having a plan, training with purpose and trying to achieve something, being forced out of my running break sooner than anticipated, made me realize that sometimes, it’s just enough to move your body for the joy of moving.
[Funnily enough, now that I’m starting to enjoy running again, I’m also getting excited about the idea of racing. I don’t think I’ll be running a full marathon next year but the idea of a half or two is definitely something I’ll give some thought.]