It's Not About The Time
I ran seven miles this morning, fighting the stout south wind on the way out, then having it push me onwards after I turned around and headed back home. It took me 71 minutes to run seven miles (well, 7.02 miles to be exact, but I don't like to add decimal points to my running log, so I round down or up to the nearest half or whole mile. Call me OCD, but that's the way I'm wired). I ran those miles at a ten minute pace.
Ten minutes to cover one whole mile.
It used to be that I'd be furious at myself for running at such a slow pace, coming home beating myself up and making excuses as to why I ran so slowly: "Oh, the wind was too strong. The sun was in my eyes. My asthma was acting up." I didn't enjoy the physical act of running because I was constantly running for time or I was constantly training for the next 10K or the next half marathon. Running was just a means for me to get to my next race. I didn't run because I liked it!
Good heavens, no!
Running has never really been fun for me, and to be quite honest, I still have days when I have to talk myself out the front door for my morning miles. When I first started out, it was to lose the Freshman 15 (but in my case, it was more like the Freshman 25); then, it was to lose weight for my wedding, then to lose the baby weight, then for time and finally for my first half marathon.
And that was when it really stopped being fun. But I did it anyway, getting mad at myself on those days when I didn't break an eight minute mile or I had to stop and walk a bit or just quit altogether and walked home. I'd storm in the front door, slam my music player down and pout for the rest of the day, vowing to never run again.
I mean, walking is good exercise too, right?
It was after one of those episodes that David pointed out the obvious to me, that running had stopped being fun, and why not change my mindset and just try to relax about the whole thing.
I decided to take him up on his crazy idea and the next time I ran, I left my watch at home and just ran. I knew the distance already, so I didn't need the GPS for that, but I didn't want to know how slow I was going. I came home and had to admit that the man was onto something. I knew I hadn't set a PR or had broken any speed records, but for once in quite a few years, I felt good after a run.
That run was actually fun.
It was then that I began to gradually lose concern about how fast I went or about breaking an eight minute mile. I still like knowing how far I went, especially when I chose a brand new route to explore. I run now just to run and to lose myself in my thoughts and there are plenty of days when I set out down our street not really sure where I'm going to run or how far, but I do know that I will finish my run and not care about my time.
Today I ran seven miles in seventy-one minutes without stopping and I'm good with that.