Finding the Joy

Oh my gosh I love running.

Okay, so almost always. The thing is, that as much as I love running I still have runs that suck. Usually when it’s hot out. This past summer was rufffffffff. Part of how I fit things in around childcare and work means that I ended up running in high heat in the middle of the day. So, that gave me choices. I could either be miserable and complain and wish I wasn’t out there, or I could find some joy in what was happening. (Okay, I guess I could have also not gone running….yeah, sure.). So I would do my best to find ways to enjoy shuffling along.

Part of what I also had to do was let go of certain things. Pace went out the window. There’s no going out for a long run on a Tuesday starting at 9:30 am with a heat index of 110 and caring what your pace is. I mean, you can, but you probably won’t enjoy yourself much. I had to be realistic about what was happening, and that meant slowing down, walking when needed, and drinking an absurd amount of bubbly water and Coca-Cola as a reward throughout my runs. I allowed myself time to stop at creeks. Sometimes that even meant taking off my shoes and walking around in them for a few minutes in the middle of a run. I am also currently trying to take time at the ends of runs to pause, take some deep breaths and recenter myself, rather than rushing off home without even processing the positives that I got from my run. The major reason that was difficult for me was because I would feel guilty when I took that kind of a break, but I’m working on that. Practicing that helps too. It gets easier.

Heat is not the only reason that runs suck though (it’s just a big one for me). Sometimes I’m just tired. Sometimes I’m stuck in my own head, or can’t move as quickly as I expected.

I just have to find the joy.

I really believe that the reason I had a good training season this summer was far less to do with my body handling the heat better, and more with my mindset. I just stopped deciding that it sucked (even though, let’s be clear, it often did). I stopped looking at my pace as much and caring how much I walked because when it was that hot I didn’t have a choice. I would try to run near water and places I thought were pretty. I listened to more music than I ever have before. I still don’t do it often, but it was fun on occasion. I would pick hard routes because I was supposed to be slower on those anyway. Of course I was slower running up and down Ogg road, it was a big hill, so who cares what that pace was. I kept visualizing crossing the finish line at Heartland strong because it was my A race for the year. The reality is that there were still days that I complained. There were times I had to check with Nathan and Coleen to make sure I hadn’t been complaining all summer and that I was mostly being positive.

For real too, I put glitter on when I’m really struggling. Nothing says you can’t take this too seriously it’s all okay like some glitter on your cheeks.

It was more fun. I got stronger. I’m still constantly practicing and it’s part of why it’s fun. If it were always easy it wouldn’t be as exciting. It’s allowed me to pick some bigger stretch goals for myself because I’m mentally able to stretch myself more. I’m choosing races and goals that I’m excited about and just a little scared of and cannot wait to keep growing.

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