Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Highs and Lows of Running: Appreciating Both

One of the things I am finding as I continue progressing in my running is the frequency with which I vacillate between the highs and lows of running.  One run, I will feel light as air and another run on the very next day, I feel as though my legs are made of concrete.  Who am I kidding, though?  This vacillation occurs within runs, not just from run to run.  I know it is just a part of the experience of running.  It has been part of the journey from the beginning.  I guess what is so amazing is the increasing frequency with which I experience the highs of running and the joy that comes with it.  These highs make the lows more bearable for me.  Yesterday’s six-miler was difficult at best.  The first four miles, I felt as though my legs were along only for the ride they were getting from my upper body dragging them behind, they felt that heavy.  I almost started walking at mile three.

When the thoughts about walking began creeping in, I was able to quash them quickly by remembering my long run from the previous week, in which I felt like my feet had wings.  I told myself to push through the deadness and I would get to the other side of it mid-run and feel better, or I would have the satisfaction of having completed my run regardless of how bad my legs felt.  I pushed on and I am glad I did.  Around mile four, everything loosened up and I was able to pick up the pace quite a bit and bring it home strong.  If I would have listened to that nagging, negative voice inside my head and walked, I wouldn’t have experienced being able to push through the tiredness, an experience important to developing into an endurance runner, because of the amount of time one must spend running and the distance required.  Since running ultra-distances is my ultimate desire in running, yesterday was a huge accomplishment.  I know what it feels like to push through.  I know that mentally I am capable.  I know my body does not have to rule my choices and my current mental state does not have to be the end-all decision.  I know I can dig deep and keep pushing on.

On the flipside of yesterday’s run was my long distance run last week, which I alluded to earlier.  I had not experienced what I went through during that run on any previous run, ever.  When I set out, it took just a short time to get into a good rhythm with my pace, my breathing, and my heart rate.  Everything just seemed to be working in tandem.  Before I knew it, I was at mile six of 9.6 miles.  I thought to myself, “Wow.  How did I get here so quick?”  The next thing I knew, I was crossing an intersection I couldn’t believe I had already approached.  It felt like I should have been only halfway through my run, and yet, I was nearly three-quarters of the way home.

My body and legs felt as though they were light as a feather, gliding through the air, just barely skimming the surface of the pavement as I ran.  I passed landmarks I felt I shouldn’t have been passing yet.  The miles just kept falling away, until I was in the final mile headed towards home, my least favorite section of all my runs because of the slow, steady climb that seems to drive my heart rate through the roof, regardless of how my heart rate has been through the rest of the run.  Ah, but not so on that day.  That mile fell by the wayside in the same manner the rest of the run had.  It was a wonderful, fantastic experience.  I can’t wait to experience it again, no matter how long it takes.  I know as I get to my running weight, I will experience it more than I do now.  I also know it will not be part of my experience every time I run, or even every other time I run.  What I am finding is that because of the experience of the low points, I treasure the high moments.  I relished that run and I keep that experience tucked away where I can revisit it at any time I wish to do so.  As I sit here writing about it, I can feel the emotional experience I had and I feel the mental uplift.  I can feel the sensations I experienced physically as I ran, even though I am not physically running.  This, this is yet another reason why I run, why I am pursuing this journey with a level of passion previously unknown to me.

What are you passionate about and how do you pursue those passions?  Do you experience highs and lows as you chase your dreams?

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