This past weekend was the Air Force Marathon. Originally this year I had planned to run a half marathon in hopes of it being the first half I’ve done since pregnancy, but sadly I was not able to train the way I wanted to. I struggled to get myself back into a running routine and so instead of choosing to completely skip it I opted to downgrade to a 10k. (This worked out anyway as my sister and brother-in-law were doing the 10k as well.) Just prior to starting the run my sister asked if I had a target time, she was hoping for 1:15:00. Having not really ran lately, and knowing my 10k last year with some training was 1:21:17, I said I was hoping for 1:30:00 but wasn’t sure.
I finished in 1:30:22.
I was proud of myself too. You see, this is the first race that I’ve ran in a while, and it was the first one that I decided to run for a sense of enjoyment rather than exercise or time.
You see for me running started back in high school as a way to workout and try and lose weight. I was never fast, trust me. I thought 4.5-5.0 mph on the treadmill was fast and forget about going any faster. But still I tried, and I moved on to running outside and eventually 5K races. It wasn’t until after college and right before PA school that I decided to train for a bigger challenge, a half marathon. I’ve gone on to do 3 more as well as a few 5 mile races and now two 10K races.
I don’t think I’ve enjoyed even half of them.
You see running for me has always been about time and calories – the stats and the burn. Sure there were runs were I would get a runner’s high, enough of them to know that it usually starts around 30 minutes if I’m pacing myself right, but as a whole I didn’t run for pleasure. And I always recorded my runs in some way (initially the Nike+ shoe tracker and then RunKeeper once Apps and GPS became reliable). My sister ran cross country in junior high and had kept up with a running routine since then. I once asked her what she used to record her runs. She just shrugged and said to me “I just run until I’m hungry and then I stop for a bear claw.”
Perhaps you know the reference:
I used to roll my eyes at her and think she was crazy. She’s been saying this for years by the way. She also runs with a running group on a regular basis and recently did a half marathon with a PR in less than 3:00 (my best was 3:14). Saturday morning she set another personal record.
I should take a step back and talk about something I started working on this month. It’s called Intuitive Eating. I’ll do a whole post on this subject later but in nutshell it’s about learning to listen to your body and eat when your hungry. The first step in the book also talks about working out for the enjoyment of exercise and not for the calorie burn. For some reason when I read that I chuckled to myself, remembering her joke about running until she got hungry. And then I stopped laughing because I realized she was right.
I had been running wrong for half my life.
I had been so obsessed about the numbers that I didn’t really run for the feel of it. The experience. And that was what I decided to change.
So Saturday I made it a point to enjoy the race I was running. Mother Nature certainly didn’t make it easy on me as the sky opened up and poured for the middle third of the race. (And I definitely didn’t enjoy the chaffing that resulted from it.) But still, I chose to run in a way that felt enjoyable. That meant running at a pace that felt comfortable at the time or even walking when I needed too.
And my time didn’t turn out to bad either.
Next time, I’ll stop for as PSL.