Sometimes I have to remind myself why I started running in the first place......
Most of us won’t remember our very first run, but there was something about it that made us put on our running shoes for a second time and try it again. Somewhere, deep down, we enjoyed it.
Then life moves on. Deadlines. Targets. Life is busy and everything seems to be time critical. And that included my running too. Now I’m no elite athlete, but before I knew it I was following training plans, chasing PBs and beating myself up if I missed a session. An event would be on the horizon, I set myself a goal, downloaded a training plan and worked towards the end game - and missing a training run would feel as serious to me as missing a work deadline.
So then I took a break. A break from entering events, and a break from treating all of my runs as something on a ‘To Do’ list. I ditched the tempo run, the interval run and the hill set, and instead opted for a ‘run’. I left my watch at home and stepped out of my front door with no idea where I was intending to go. With no pace to aim for or route to follow, I found myself looking around and actually taking in my surroundings. I listened to the traffic, the birds, my breathing and my mind. I observed the trees, the people, the houses and my running technique. I felt the wind in my face, my feet inside my shoes and the sun drying the sweat on my skin. And I enjoyed my run so, so much.
Of course there’s a time and place for training schedules and goal-setting - these help us become better runners and achieve the amazing tasks that we aspire to conquer. But when the run becomes as onerous as that dreaded time-bound work task, maybe it’s time to pause. Time to shift our running focus to enjoyment rather than achievement, and to run for the sake of running. Time to strip it all back, to lace up our trainers with no plan at all, to get outside and just run, and to remember why we started running in the first place.