Back When Running Was Simple

I remember a time when running was simple — when I ran purely for the joy of running, even though I was slow (so, so slow — 12 minute miles slow). A time when I didn’t care about splits or pace or heart rate.

I remember when I used to wake up in the mornings, lace up my sneakers and head out my parents’ front door to log the miles I needed to train for my first marathon before leaving to head to my first full-time summer internship.

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Pretty views on my runs in PA

I remember spending Friday evenings driving around in my car down long and windy country roads, watching the trip counter so I could plan a route for the next day’s long run because I didn’t have a Garmin and I had never heard of MapMyRun (it may not even have existed back then).

I remember waking up early to go on said long runs, scarfing a peanut butter PowerBar and grabbing a lemon-lime Gatorade out of the fridge to carry in my hand. (Not in a fancy water bottle with a nice hand strap or something).

I remember my mom warning to me to watch out for skunks because in the country those are problems you might have in the pre-dawn hours.

Running was simple back then.

When I was training for my first marathon, I was so proud every time I finished a long run, hit a new distance or maybe ran a tiny bit faster.

Somewhere in the last eight years, I lost the simplicity and the joy of just running. I started taking distance running for granted. A 10 miler wasn’t anything special, it was just another item I had to check off my really long to-do list.

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Look at all my tech gear…Philly Marathon 2010

I struggled to find routes I loved in the city. I missed my open windy country roads with pretty scenery. There’s a freedom to those roads that I just don’t feel dodging angry drivers in DC.

So running lost some of its glitz and shine. What used to be my stress relieving “me time” started becoming an uninspired chore.

I wasn’t running fast enough, long enough, hard enough. My times weren’t improving, I was sidelined with injuries. I was running on routes I hated.

Well that run didn't go as planned. Thank goodness for @arcticease
Injuries upon injuries

Everything about my running felt forced and miserable.

And all this really hit me when I was home in PA for Easter. I went out for two runs while I was there on those same windy country roads that I logged miles and miles on while training for my first marathon.

I had no Garmin, no fancy gear and I felt the biggest sense of freedom in my running that I had in a long, long time. I didn’t care about pace or time or even really distance.

It felt like I was a newbie runner again, experiencing the simple joys of feeling my legs moving, my heart pumping, my lungs enjoying the clean, fresh country air.

I felt free.

And now that I’m back in DC, I’ve been trying to find ways to replicate that here. No I don’t have beautiful country roads, but there are some nice trails, and you really can’t beat the views of some of the monuments. I’ve been leaving Garmin at home, not worrying about pace or time.

C and O trail. About ten miles in to this run
One of many DC trails

Monument from hains point. Almost 13 miles in. Jefferson from same spot on Haines point.
Washington and Jefferson

Right now, I’m just trying to rediscover that simple joy and freedom I used to get from lacing up my shoes and heading out the front door.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to find it in DC the way I can so easily find it in wide open spaces, but I can certainly try.

Meb’s Win in Boston Helps Us Heal

BostonStrongRibbon

This past week leading up to the Boston Marathon has been an emotional one, and I'm struggling to put into words everything I've been feeling. There's the sense of sadness I felt watching the tributes last week and remembering the lives lost, the way communities (both the running community and the Boston community) were senselessly attacked. There's the pride in the strength and resilience shown both in Boston and in the international running community. Watching people pull together, … [Continue reading]

Garminless running

When Coach Zach read my post last week about how running had been hard and miserable and just wasn't fun for me anymore, he immediately g-chatted me with a possible solution. Here's how the conversation went down: Coach Z: Yo dummy, listen up. Jess: Good morning to you too. Coach Z: Yea, thanks I guess. What's with the running nonsense? Jess: I don't know. It's really hard to like running when it hurts all the time. Coach Z: Yea, been there. What I'm about to propose might sound scary … [Continue reading]

Why You Should Never Ever Cheat on Your Running Shoes

Some people bounce between running shoes like someone hot on the dating scene bounces between men. One day they wear their Brooks. The next day it's their Sauconys and for long runs, it's their Asics or Mizunos. A new day, a new shoe. Or a new dude - to keep my analogy going here. I mean why commit to one, when you can constantly mix it up? But I've never been that person. (In running or in dating) In fact, I'm very much a running shoe monogamist. Rows of Mizunos For the past … [Continue reading]

Focusing on Recovery

One of the things I've been doing to try to make my runs more pleasant is really focusing on recovery after each run. I've been known in the past to sometimes skip stretching and foam rolling because of a time crunch, but one of the biggest problems I've been dealing with on runs lately is super tight leg muscles. So in an attempt to fix that, I'm throwing myself at the mercy of my foam roller and compression socks. It's a pretty safe bet that if its one of the days of the week that I work … [Continue reading]

Dreading my Runs

In case you didn't pick up on it from the title, this post is not really full of happy thoughts. I'm not in a good place with my running right now, and this post is largely a discussion of what I'm struggling with. If you're looking for chipper and cheery, this is not the place today... My running has been less than stellar lately. It seems like every run is slow, painful and down right miserable. I know I'm coming off a series of injuries, and I certainly don't expect to jump right … [Continue reading]

No I’m Not Moving to Alabama and More Answers about my MBA Program

Ever since I posted last night on Facebook that I'm going to be starting an MBA program at Auburn University in the fall, I have gotten a million questions. (Apparently so has Emily, who has been fielding them and acting as my spokesperson...thanks Em.) So let me clear up some of the mystery and confusion. Are you moving to Alabama? (Asked in various tones of shock and dismay). No. I'm not in fact moving to Alabama. ::Sighs of relief:: Oh good so how does this whole MBA thing work … [Continue reading]