Girl Just Wants to Have Fun
Ok, maybe the “girl” part is a stretch, but the lyrics of the song playing in my head as I write this don’t say “woman just wants to enjoy her runs again.” Last Monday as I awoke to the sound of my annoying cell phone alarm, my first thought was “Ugh! How far do I have to run this morning?” For someone who normally looks forward to every run and hops out of bed 5 minutes before the alarm goes off, that thought was a red flag for trouble ahead.
As I checked my training plan to see how far and how fast I needed to run, strapped the Garmin on my wrist, and decided on a route that would give me the exact 6 miles required by my plan, it became clear why I was dreading the run. So many numbers, so many rules…running had become full of far more must-do’s than want-to’s. Whatever happened to just heading out for a run and going as far and as fast/slow as I wanted?
Over the past month I bought a new bike (and I love it!) and started cycling. Each time I ride I have the excited butterfly feeling in my stomach that I used to get when I ran. Since I’ve never enjoyed cycling before, this was really strange. Then, like a well-timed slap upside the head, it hit me why I was turning to cycling and away from running to get my endorphin fix. There were no have-to’s on the bike! I had no pace, time, or distance expectations. I would ride until I didn’t want to ride anymore, and come home tired but happy. To my surprise, I was putting in some pretty good mileage too - 20 mile rides became the norm rather than the exception. My endurance craving was being well-fed.
But what about the running? It was my first love, and I’m certainly not ready to end the relationship. So running and I went to therapy - naked therapy. For one week I ran without Garmin; going whatever pace and distance felt right for that run. The next week I put Garmin back on, but turned off the sound and refused to look at it until I finished my run. Now we’ve progressed to the point where I decide on how long I want to run, and whether it’ll be an easy or a faster run. Garmin goes along, and lets me know how far and how fast I went that day.
I think running and I are going to make it. We’ll see each other 4-5 days a week, and spend around 10 miles together once during the week. This will keep me half marathon ready, but not burned out and filled with running dread. I’m not ending my relationship with cycling, because other than loving every mile, it’s making me a much stronger runner. This girl (ok, older girl) is going to have fun.