We were going to do hills in their neck of the woods. So we went. Up and up, side streets, down and around and back up again. We ran with a huge hill in front of us, only to veer off at the last second before we had to climb that one. We climbed another one instead and it was just a teaser for the one right behind it.
We kept going.
And as we climbed and as we ran, we talked.
“..I don’t love to run”, I remember saying. To me, saying that felt like admitting to something you weren’t supposed to say, ever. In my mind, no-one really ‘LOVED’ to run. It was just one of those things a community would say to wag the dog. Faking it until they made it. But when the chips were down, no-one really loved to run; not in the same way as we love our significant others or ice cream. Nobody loves to run like they love to watch their favorite movie over and over, or in quite the same way as one might enjoy a thick New York Strip and baked potato… do they?
To be sure, none of those things have any kind of immediate association with pain or effort. Who ever heard of a Mint Chocolate chip ice cream cone making you break a sweat? So, yah! They are different. But they have something in common too.
You miss them when they’re gone.
Talk about, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder!”. Any runner that has ever nursed an injury or is currently nursing an injury will know exactly what I mean. When you can’t run, it’s no longer the chore you thought it was; it’s the release you took for granted. You miss it like hell. In the long term, you don’t want to aggravate the hurt and extend the healing process, or make it a worst-case scenario, but on the other hand, you need to run. You crave it. You can’t live without it!
So, you begin to make deals with yourself. You compromise, if at all possible. ‘Short runs’, you tell yourself. ‘Observational runs to really nail down exactly where I hurt’. ‘Experimental runs to see what a change of cadence will do to my pain or a change of speed and cadence’. ‘Try different shoes! Maybe that’s it!’. So you run.
You run and you take mental note. But as soon as you start going, as soon as I start going.. I feel it; exhilaration, joy.. I’m getting my fix and it feels great.
“Oh running! How I missed you!”
And I realize this as my feet slap the pavement and my stride opens up, and, through heavy breathing, I feel good. Really good. And I love this feeling. My quads are stretching out behind me, my hamstrings are invincible; my whole body is twisting just so and it’s perfect. It feels right.
This gift. I have it. I get it now.
I love running.