Unplug your wires and watches and plug in your senses during your runs.
Recently I had noticed a bit of a trend with my running. There seemed nothing "remarkable" about my daily runs. And for someone who loves running and has for 35 years, that says something. But was there really "nothing remarkable" or was I just failing to notice? And what that a turkey buzzard I just ran past?
So I started to look back over my training logs from years gone by (and yes, I have them all dating back to 1978) and I finally noticed the trend… I was writing less and less detail about my daily excursions, to the point where lately I'd become very "journalistic" in my entries – who, what when, where… but sadly, no "why." Over the past few months, I've again started to comment more in my daily logs about the "why" and the "how," which has led me to a greater openness to the experience of my daily running.
Now please don't take this personally, but running has to mean something to you in order for you to stick with it. If it doesn't have that meaning, then I suspect that whenever you're done preparing for whatever bucket list, challenge or whim that's struck you, you'll be done with running. Those "why run" comments in my logs? They mean something to me and have kept me at it all these years.
Since my look-back through my logs, I've noticed a lot of my best runs came when I spent a great deal of time in the "why" frame-of-mind. These runs weren't usually particularly fast, they weren't always in particularly unique or scenic places (although two of them were), and they weren't always particularly special.
Here's an example of a recent log entry – "Wet grass run. Nice warm gentle rain." That was June 7 at Lum's Pond. And those few words entered into my training book help me re-live a very nice, easy 46-minute run on the grass around Areas 1, 2 and 3. Nothing special, nothing fast, and a place I run at least twice a week. But a GREAT run. Why? Because it was. Oh, and the next day I ran one of my best road races in nearly a year.
Those two "unique" runs I mentioned include 12 miles on the battlefield of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. last spring and running up and down Mount Marathon in Alaska in 1998. Those were runs filled with "why we run" moments. There were lots of comments on the days of those running entries. But yet, a mundane run like June 7, 2013 at Lum's Pond ranks up there as a "best run EVER" moment as well.
Other places I've run that usually provided a magical spark include the Spotsylvania and Chancellorsville Battlefields near Fredericksburg, Virginia, desert runs in Riverside, California, and the 2 a.m. jaunts in New Hampshire as a part of the Reach the Beach Relay. But so did the 7 ½ mile loop near where my mom lived when I was in high school and college in Pennsylvania. The last 200-meter hill up to the front door ROCKED! I ran that rolling loop at least weekly for five years.
So do me a favor… unplug your wires and watches and plug in your senses. Discover the desire to experience rather than desire to finish. And see what "best run EVER" moment you can have during your daily 5. You may not discover a turkey buzzard but you may find more reasons to keep running past the upcoming mud, color, relay, team… event.
Former Lock Haven University stand-out runner Andrew Shearer is the Middletown Athletic Club secretary/treasurer. Shearer has been running since 1978.