Friday, January 21, 2011

The Strange Effects of Running by Feel

Last year I was scheduled. I knew when I would run, how far I would run, and the pace I would run. The scheduling was all in anticipation of running my first half marathon in the Fall. And it was boring! By the time the Half Marathon arrived, I was not enjoying running very much. The training had turned running into a grind. I ran my race, and was very happy with my result, but afterwards, I decided to change the way I run. Change the way I even approached running. I would run by feel, for joy alone.

I threw away my weekly schedules. I stopped setting goals for time and distance. I just ran - when I felt like it - as far as I wanted - as fast as felt good. And something strange happened. I actually ran better, and experienced more joy, with each run.

Running became something greater. I found myself letting go of worries and concentrating on joy.  I found beauty in unexpected ways on my runs.

Today, I went for a run. I ran for joy on a crisp, sunny winter's day. I ran through the winding trails and bridal paths of Umstead State Park. I ran because I felt like running. I ran as far as I wanted. I ran as fast as I wanted. In the end, I ran just over a half marathon, without even knowing it. Strangely, I'm not even tired.

I don't know where my running is taking me, but I'm enjoying the journey.