Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cheaper than therapy

So, I've been struggling with something unusual and fairly disturbing lately...

Feeling bored while running!

My gosh. To my friends out there who frequently tell me I'm crazy and they have no idea why I enjoy running, I think I finally understand you. I have no idea what to blame for this unprecedented emotion, but the vast majority of my runs recently have just felt...dull. And mostly me just thinking about wanting to be done. Tired feet, tired body, feeling like I'm just dragging it through the motions. And resentful that I have some big races in the next few months (starting next weekend!) that I have to train for, so just not running if I don't feel like it is not really an option; I'm committed to those races.

Okay, maybe I have some theories:

1. I've been running in shoes that I've put over 1,000 miles on. Footwear faux pas/fail...and I should know better.
2. I've been running almost exclusively on pavement around the city, rather than out on trails in the mountains.
3. I made a New Year's resolution to run more regularly; not necessarily more miles overall, but changing my running habits from 1-2 ridiculously long (10-25 mile) runs/week to 3-4 shorter (3-7 mile) runs/week + the occasional longer one. The problem is that my runs usually don't start feeling good until 7 or 8 miles in...the first few miles always hurt and make me wonder why I do this to myself again and again. But then, inevitably, I hit my stride, my runner's high, and it all comes flooding back to me, and I can't wait to do it all over again. But of course, ridiculously long runs take ridiculously large swaths of available daylight hours - of which there are few these days, between work, school and January in Seattle.

Nevertheless, it's been bothering me a lot. Running gives me energy and pride and identity. Running makes me feel strong. Running is cheaper than a gym membership and cheaper than therapy. Running lets me eat whatever the heck I want and not worry about it. Running has helped me get to know Seattle in and out - its multitude of diverse neighborhoods, its parks and canals and bridges, its "backcountry" trails, its hidden public stairways, its best mountain views, its prettiest places to watch sunsets, its most hardcore hills, its nicest waterfront areas, cafes and bistros and independent shops tucked away in residential areas to go back and explore later. Running has romanticized the city for me in so many ways. (That's thanks to Amsterdam, the city which truly made me fall in love with running..., and where I learned the joys of exploring cities by (fleet!) foot.)

I don't want to be bored with running!

Fortunately, I've had a couple good runs this past week that have given me back some confidence. Maybe I do just need to rescind that New Year's Resolution, because the good ones were both 2+ hour runs, while all the meh-runs have been the much shorter ones. (This is why I always tell non-runner friends: If you don't like running, the solution is to do it more! The more you run, the more fun it gets.) One of the stellar, ah-I-DO-still-enjoy-this runs was at Cougar Mountain, my first serious trail run in a good while. It was raining, and the rain fell increasingly harder as the hours passed. I ran through so many washed out trails and mud puddles, and was soaked and chilled to the bone at the end of it - but deliriously happy! I felt like myself again: rejuvenated, alive, content.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep...

Then today, I planned a long urban run between work and class - one of my favorite routes around the city, starting in Belltown, running alongside Lake Union, through Fremont, along the ship canal trail (so reminiscent of Amsterdam - bikes and drawbridges included!), through Magnolia, around my favorite loop trail around the wild Discovery Park with stunning waterfront views of the Olympic Mountains, then back and to Gasworks Park for a good skyline view, and around the east side of Lake Union again. Did 17 solid miles today, and took the following set of cell phone pictures of all the reasons running was not boring today.

The sun finally crept out from under the clouds.

Bald eagle(s) sighting! See if you can see the pair of them hanging out in the tree. Seeing them in the wild out here still stops me in my tracks, every time.

Sunset reflected on Lake Union, with Space Needle in the fuzzy background. No colors digitally altered here in any way. It truly was spectacular.

So, I guess I'm still a runner.


1 comment:

  1. Those camera photos really capture the essence of what things look like on a run... a fuzzy light feeling as if you're a bubble floating through... at least that's how I feel on a good day.