I go back and forth with my running. Running is something I’ve done since I was 8-years-old, so after 18 years, it’s such a part of my identity that I feel guilty if I haven’t run in awhile. My favorite analogy is comparing it to a relationship. Sometimes you need your space but you inevitably find yourself missing it when you stay away for too long.
When I was 19, I trained for a marathon and was in the best shape of my life. Unfortunately, I didn’t take care of myself as well as I should have during that rigorous training, as I experienced a couple of health problems during that time. I haven’t trained as hard since and running doesn’t come quite as easily as it did for me then. For example, back then I could finish a run without stretching and not suffer any repercussions. At some point this year, I injured my calf muscles. Now, if I don’t stretch as well as I should (which, honestly, is every time I run), my calves are in pain on the next run. I don’t like feeling that. It makes me feel old. Supposedly you hit your peak shape at 23. I’d like to be in better shape than I was at 23. I feel like I have a lot of time to hit my peak shape. I want to be one of those sixty-year-olds running marathons.
This year, I haven’t been running as much with my running group. I was working out of the downtown office for awhile and couldn’t meet up with them, and instead started running in the park after work, which was nice. But then my brother came to stay with me for a summer, and instead of going to run after work, we’d go on little adventures instead. I started working out at a gym religiously again, and as I found myself getting stronger, I decided that I needed to return to my running group. They were really welcoming and I was very glad to be back.
I almost didn’t go yesterday because I was tired and hungry, but I knew if I didn’t go work out, I wouldn’t get to exercise until Saturday. And I am running a half-marathon in February, so I kind of need to be in shape for that. I started with a slow 1.5 mile to 2 mile warm-up, trying to ignore my tight calves. The weather was brisk and cool as I met up with the group afterwards. I found solace in the familiarity of our warm-ups, in the company of the other crazy diehard runners outside in the cold.
Our main workout was a 3-mile run, which were done in intervals – 1.5 miles, 1 minute rest, 1 mile, 1 minute rest, and a half mile. We ran along the dam. As I breathed in the crisp air, looking at the crescent moon lighting the lake, I was reminded why I love running so much. It felt so good to be out there, to work through my soreness, to feel my muscles getting leaner and stronger. It felt good to be breathing in the crisp air and running faster so I could stay warm. I had a strong finish and felt terrific by the end.
I may take my breaks from it, but I will always be a runner. Not only because of the physical benefits, but for the emotional benefits as well – it just makes me happy.