There is a great book by Haruki Murakami titled ‘What I talk about when I talk about running‘ which inspired this post. The famed author of ‘Norwegian Wood‘ talks about his experiences training for the New York marathon.
I have not yet written a post about running but being Friday, find myself thinking about running.
Truthfully, the thought of running sounds exhausting. To clarify, and to potentially confuse you further, I have been running for almost twenty years and consider myself an intermediate runner.
There is an incredible mental obstacle I face before each run based on the anticipation of the pain and the work of running.
However, after the first ten minutes of pounding pavement, I drift into a place where all I am focusing on is my breathing, my feet landing with each step and an immense feeling of calmness/euphoria/power (this changes for me with each run) which begins to make the run incredibly uplifting. It is a tremendous feeling.
I make this sound sexy. In fact, this does sound like sex: The anticipation/dread before the start, the slow/fast build up, the heavy breathing, increased heart rate, sweat dripping down glistening skin, the sprint for the finish, the exhilaration and delicious spent feeling at the end.
So why keep doing it if the thought of running doesn’t get me going in the first place?
Because it makes me feel good. Physically, my energy levels go up and stay up for most of the day. Mentally, I feel more alert and engaging. Emotionally, I feel stronger, more confident and less stressful.
And so I force myself through the routine of the start, putting on my shoes and the painful first ten minutes, trusting that the pay off is coming. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, until I hit that sweet spot.
To keep me through my start up dread, I often run listening to a nice, pumping music mix (The Linkin Park & Jay-Z mash-up album is a regular go to, as well as Fall Out Boy, Kings of Leon). The tempo of the beat setting my body in to auto-pilot with a matching tempo.
But I also need goals to keep me heading out each time:
- How fast can I run a mile?
- How far can I run in 30 minutes?
- Can I run a half-marathon distance?
And what do I think about when I am running?
Nothing important really. I am so focused on my breathing, my pace, the beat of the music and the countdown to my end goal that I find I do not think about anything else.
Maybe this is why I truly enjoy it and keep coming back to it.
Because for a little while, I am free.