Do you remember the first run you ever went on? Do you remember what prompted you to decide to start running in the first place? Perhaps you didn’t enjoy it initially but after one amazing run, you were hooked. Perhaps the weather was beautiful, or you saw a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Were you all by yourself, did someone drag you out the door, or did you head out with a group of friends?
Now, when the euphoria wore off, why did you decide you go back out for a second run? We’ve all tried plenty of things once to be adventurous, and then decided they weren’t for us, but this was different. I raise these questions because I think it’s really easy to forget the answers after you’ve been running for a while. I’ve only been at it a few years, and I still need to remind myself what got me hooked in the first place, so I’m sure others that have been at it much longer than me are doing the same thing.
During the winter months, the theme of so many running-related stories is about survival. We are thinking about how to survive the snow, the cold, the ice, the treadmill, illness, darkness, and boredom. In the process of going on the defensive during the winter months, it seems pretty easy to treat running as something to get through and move on, but you miss out on whats around you when you are preoccupied with getting past it!
I can admit that I have been guilty of heading out on a run with a “must get it done” attitude, and I know I haven’t enjoyed those runs as much. I also know that I’m far from being a fan of the winter months, especially in the midwest, and I don’t enjoy the extra work involved in layering up just to get out the door. However, I want to always remember what an amazing gift it is that I have the chance to lace up and head out in the first place.
A week from now, I’m going to be relaxing on a sunny beach in Trinidad (or more likely, hiking through a rainforest), and I got all of my travel vaccinations last week. This is my first experience with international travel, so I didn’t exactly know what to expect. After an hour and a half in the travel clinic, it was hard not to be worried about everything from dengue fever to diarrhea, but I remained positive. In addition to the yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis A, and flu shots, I also received a pneumoccocal vaccination. For most folks, this isn’t a bad shot, but in 1% of patients, in can result in high fever, along with aches, pains, and chills. I won the vaccination lottery
I spent most of this past week on the couch with a fever anywhere between 100 and 103. I’m pretty sure that the most productive thing I did for three days was move from the couch to the bed. Now, I should mention that I’m really bad at being sick. I hate not being able to get things done and not having control over my time. Thus, that fact that I couldn’t run all week was really frustrating for me. I know I should have looked at it as an excellent recovery period for my legs and enjoy the rest, but I just couldn’t. The fact that I woke up three nights in a row lying in a pool of my own sweat after my fever broke didn’t help either!
Not my friend!
When Saturday morning arrived, and I was feeling well enough to head out for a run, I was as happy as a kid in a candy store. I planned to take it easy and keep a somewhat slower pace so as not to overdo it, but I was just happy to be out there. I ran the first leg by myself, and felt this overwhelming excitement and sense of joy with everything around me. I felt my foot falls, listened to my breath, thought about my gate, and just took in the world around me. Then I met up with some friends for the next leg and it was wonderful to reconnect with everyone. Saturday mornings were already one of my favorite times of the week, but it was that much better this week. After having so little human contact for 4 days, it was great to be around people. I had some great conversations and formed some lovely memories to add to the mix. After we finished our loop, I headed back on the third leg of my run to complete my morning training.
When I got home, I realized that I felt that same new and exciting sense of joy that I felt when I fell in love with running the first time. The fire has been burning for quite a while now, but the spark was relit and renewed. It brought back all of the memories of my first run and of my journey. In the process, I was not only reminded of why I run, but that I never HAVE to run…I GET to run. I am always thankful for that.