One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go out for a run during the last hour of daylight. I started doing this back in high school, continued through college running down by the lake, and even when I was in South Korea despite the fact that running for exercise was unheard of. Running became a constant in my life. I couldn’t wait to get home from work or school and put on my shoes and go. I never wore a watch and had no idea what my mileage was or how fast I was going. I didn’t care. For however long I was out, nothing else seemed to matter. Time stopped. I could zone out to music or just allow my thoughts to take over. Anger was dissipated with every step I took, frustration over classes or a bad day at work slowly fell away, and even loneliness faded with each mile. Everyone has their own way of escaping and mine was running. Returning home after a run, I always felt lighter. Whatever emotional baggage I was carrying around beforehand, I lost it along the way. Running was my therapy.
When I decided I wanted to train for a marathon back in 2012, the magic of my runs went away. Suddenly assigning exact mileage for each week, scheduling rest days and cross training days, and always making sure that every weekend had a long run factored into the equation was exhausting. I dreaded every run I had to go on. Making myself run had taken out the joy completely. I hated running.
After my marathon in the fall, I didn’t run for months. The thought of lacing up my shoes and going outside for a run became so unappealing to me. However, allowing myself that time away from running and from any type of race, I started to feel that pull to run again. Not for time, not for mileage, just for me. I started running in the evenings and saw the change in my mood quickly. I looked forward to the nights I didn’t work and I could go out, run the hilly neighborhoods, and watch the sun set.
This weekend finally brought some decent weather and I couldn’t wait to take advantage of it and go for an evening run. I didn’t have to worry about wearing enough layers or making sure my fingers didn’t get frostbitten, I could just lace up my shoes and go. Running, for me, has never been about losing weight or negating a “bad” meal I ate, it’s always been about getting away for awhile, escaping, and clearing my head. Runs have helped me work through homesickness, heartbreak, loneliness, and doubts of ever figuring anything out. They have a way of helping you realize that everything is OK, tomorrow is a new day, and reminding you of all the great things that are going right.
I hope you have a wonderful week and happy running!