Oh running, how I love thee! But seriously, I have had a new appreciation for running lately. See normally yoga is my go-to when I need to relax, just be with my body and sweat a little. But with yoga teacher training wrapping up soon I’ve been studying and every time I step on the mat I find myself quizzing myself or carefully observing the way a teacher is cuing us or the way they transitioned poses. My time on the mat is much more about learning these days and running has become my go-to to when I need to sweat and zone out.
Running is truly about enjoyment and a little me time these days and that is a huge shift from a year ago and even just a couple of months ago. When I’m training for races I’m all about the numbers. How many miles am I running? What is my pace per mile? What is my long run distance? What is my tempo run pace? How many weeks until race day? You get the idea. The other day I was thinking about my running now and how it’s changed from October when I ran my last race. What does running for fun look like for ME?!
It’s a lot less miles. Lately, I’ve been running about twice a week pretty consistently. Each week I’ll try to squeeze in a third run but with a busy work schedule and yoga teacher training that doesn’t always happen. Plus, extra snuggles with Michael wins out sometimes on really cold mornings. Most of my running happens at 5:30AM or mid-day if I can swing a lunchtime run. My go-to distance has been 4 miles coupled with abs and stretching. In fact I haven’t run over 5 miles in months and I’m really ok with that.
Pace wise things are kind of all over the place. When I run at 5:30AM and the temperature is barely breaking 30 degrees my pace is pretty slow for me, like a 9:30 or even a 9:45 pace. But it feels like I’m cruising. Other mornings I’ll check my pace post run and it’s a solid 8:45min/mile. The beauty of running in the pitch black so early is that it’s a pain to constantly check my Garmin so I just set it and go. It’s refreshing. At lunchtime I find myself cruising. I’ll run 8:15’s easily and always seem surprised when I check my pace. Now days I’m definitely running at the pace my body needs, not what a training plan says I should be running at.
The best part about running lately? How strong I feel. I’ve been doing a lot of work in yoga to open my hips and build strength in them. My core is stronger and my upper body leaner and stronger too. I feel as if my form as improved greatly and the drive from my knees and hip is much more powerful. It makes the miles easier, that’s for sure.
Part of me is already plotting and planning for my next marathon but the other half is quietly enjoying this time on the pavement and embracing the strength and freedom I have on the road. Running for fun, for relaxation and a little me time is most certainly a reminder that running is a choice. I choose to set goals, to cross finish lines, to stick to training plans, to be hard on myself when I’m not running fast enough, to add tempo runs and long runs to my calendar and to stress about something I love. But I’m also learning I can choose to run for fun, to run because I love to sweat, to run because I love the peace and quiet I feel in my body and mind when I’m out running before the sun comes up. I’m learning that no matter what choice I make at a given time, I am a runner. A runner in my heart and soul, no matter what I choose.