So, it’s National Running Day. I’m not really sure what that means for any of us, since I havent heard of any parties going on, I’ve seen no sombreros or fireworks, and I don’t even think Runner’s Happy Hour is back on the calendar yet. What kind of holiday is this, anyway?
Among the reasons to celebrate, the web site for National Running Day lists Boston Remembrance; a second bit at the Resolution apple; and fostering local community. When it comes to how to celebrate, they’ve got suggestions for that, too, ranging from runs with friends, breaks from work to run, and treats for completing your run. (Clearly the last one deserves some special consideration). This year, I’ve got a reason to run (Big Race this fall), and I’ve resolved to do it (Bloblessness 2013), so I think the only thing I’m really getting out of having a national day is some kindling on the fire keep it up.
I started back running this week after a considerable amount of time off from training due to injuries (which were moderate) and laziness (which was extreme). I’d focused all of April on getting 20,000 swimming meters, so I hardly ran at all. In May, I focused two weeks on The Work Exam, and two weeks on drinking beer and eating cheese in all forms. National Running Day is coming not a moment too soon now that I’ve got time to devote, mile times to earn, and pounds to shed. I woke up extra early this morning to (1) guarantee I got had time to observe this holiday before work; and (2) to beat the heat since excuses are infinitely more persuasive after 10:00am when temperatures are already busting 90.
I thought I did everything right. I set the alarm all the way across the room to force myself out from under the covers. I put the running clothes on the floor between the bed and the alarm, so by the time I tripped over them I’d practically be wearing them. I dressed, stretched, and still managed to get out the door in record time.
I was scheduled for a six-miler today and was doing everything in my (admittedly limited) mental power to convince myself that four would be fine. But, as usual, half a mile in I settled down and resigned myself that six it would be. I was actually starting to stop mentally whining and enjoy the ride — bee-bopping along to my hoakie morning radio show — when the iPhone streaming the show and tracking the run pitched the mother of all glitch-fits. Short of spinning its head and spewing green slime, no signs of demonic possession could have been more clear: it stopped the radio, it stopped the GPS, it started the iPod playlist, it re-started the GPS, it shut itself off, it re-booted and wouldn’t play anything from anywhere, then it repeated.
20 infuriating minutes at the nadir of a basin between two hills (mile one), and I finally wound the headphones around it extra tight (“I will CHOKE you!”), stuffed the whole thing in a pocket and, only out of spite for the phone, continued the run. I, too, am shocked I didn’t just turn around. The next ten minutes involved a final bout of internal conflict. How would I count this run toward the 40-mile month goal without the GPS? (Well, I’ve run this route about weekly for two years, I think I’ll manage.) And what about tunes, you can’t run without tunes. (Won’t have tunes during The Big Race, and it’s more than twice this distance. In fact, there are never tunes on triathlon runs, and you’ve been fine.) Once I finally just shut up and ran, I realized I was nearly two-thirds done already. I even made it farther up a previously un-runable hill than ever before. I think I might have kept a pretty good pace, too, but I’ll never know thanks to iPhone.
Frustrations notwithstanding, this was a great run for National Running Day since it reminded me to cut the crap. It’s not about GPS-ing every 15-second mile time difference and calculating each rise in the road. It’s not about zoning out so completely that you hardly remember the run at all. It’s about being in it, working on breathing, form, speed, and mental toughness. It’s about getting out there and running. Period.