1,000 Miles: Month 2
It was yet another dark, gray, rainy morning. The alarm went off. I pressed snooze, and then snooze again. Finally I got into that window of “if you don’t get up at this very second your whole morning routine is going to be off” time and I dragged myself out of bed. The run was hard. Harder than I wanted to admit. I was tired and slow. But I kept the “remember how good you will feel afterwards” mantra. It was really all I could do to keep going.
If you think that running a lot makes running easier, it doesn’t. Well ok, it sort of does. But even when you run a lot, running is still hard.
Let me explain.
Certainly, two months into a commitment to run 1,000 miles in a year has made me stronger and faster, and a five-mile run today is much different than it was even a month ago. But runs can still be hard for me. It’s still a pain to get out of bed early and lace up your shoes to go run in the wet, pouring down rain. “Why the hell am I not in bed like a normal person?” you scream to yourself internally. And then you remember that you are not a normal person anymore. You committed yourself to running 1,000 miles this year. Right.
But I say this, because sometimes when I find myself talking about my running routine to others (probably a bit too often for their liking) I realize that from the outside, a runner must sound crazy. And we do tend to glorify a lot, leaving out the hard stuff. Something like this:
“I got up early to go on a morning run, despite the rain. I felt amazing!“
What we really mean is, “I could barely muster the energy to drag myself out of bed, but I have turned into some weird workout zombie that likes pain and therefore I ran right into the rain. It was raining so hard it hurt my eyes. I wanted to stop. I was pissed off the whole time. Until the last mile when I remembered the coffee I would drink after I was warm and dry again. And then I got home and stretched, and then and only then, did I feel amazing.”
Running isn’t always glorious, and I can understand why the non-runners would think to themselves, “can it really be that amazing?”
Runner’s high is a real thing, and that’s what keeps you going. Somedays it’s the only reason that I head out the door. But it’s not the only sport where a similar thing happens. Here’s the little secret that you haven’t wanted to admit to yourself: working out may be hard, but your body enjoys it. It actually craves it. We weren’t meant to be couch potatoes. We were meant to move. There’s a reason we emphasize the “afterwards I felt amazing” part of the run. Because we do.
There’s a woman I know named Krissy Moehl who is a badass ultra runner. In fact, when I hit the 100 mile mark this last month, I though to myself “Krissy does the same mileage in about 24 hours.” Note to self: don’t compare yourself to ultra runners.
On her Instagram, she often references the phrase, “suffer better.” I love this concept. The idea that no matter what, you’re still suffering when you go on a hard workout, but your body is simply trained to deal with it better. Even if you have been running for years, you can still suffer through a five-mile run, that suffering just looks and feels different from someone that is just starting out.
In fact, there are those days when it just hurts. When I am pulling on every single mental force to move myself forward. In those moments I question whether or not I can even call myself a runner. Because obviously if you are slugging through a few laps around a park and thinking of how much you don’t want to be running, then you clearly can’t actually be a runner. Which is the silly type of thinking that goes through my brain when I don’t feel like some amazing, bounding gazelle that all the advertisements tell me I should be feeling. If you’re running, then you should be able to call yourself a runner.
But maybe that’s it. For some reason, even when it’s hard, I get up the next morning and I do it all over again. Sometimes it feels really good, and sometimes it doesn’t, but ultimately, simply getting out and running is so much a part of my daily routine now that not doing it feels worse.
Which brings me to the question: how much do most of us push ourselves physically in a day? Considering that the majority of us don’t have physically taxing jobs, at best we walk or ride our bike to work (most of us are on the bus or in a car though), sit at an office all day, come home and then lounge on the couch before hitting bed. Unless we make a concerted effort, physical activity isn’t part of our daily existence.
And yet, through much of history, humans have had to exert physical energy. First to run after animals to kill for food. Later to till the land that grew our vegetables. Physical exertion wasn’t something we did for fun, it was simply a necessary aspect of ensuring our own existence. We were meant to push ourselves. We were meant to move.
In fact, we were meant to suffer a little. And all I can ask from running a lot is that I can, in fact, suffer better. That I can enjoy that physical exertion instead of abstaining from it.
Our bodies should be dependent on that physical activity, that depletion of energy. It’s not doing it that should be seen as odd or crazy.
Get out and get after it (even when it’s raining/it’s too early/you’d rather be sleeping). Onto 1,000 Miles Month 3.