I have a 5k coming up in just a few days and, as it often goes, my training plan didn’t quite turn out how I had intended it to. For example, my body was just naturally exhausted last Friday and Saturday, and I had been hoping to get a key run in one of those days. I tried, and it just didn’t happen. I’ve been taking this week easy and focusing on things like nutrition and getting proper rest instead.
I never viewed this race as THE RACE—I have another 5k later in the year that I have big goals for—but I wanted to do the best I could on this one, and I do have perhaps a small goal for it in mind. But last night as I was (for like, the third night in a row) imagining race day, I decided that I simply wanted to focus on:
I want to do this.
Because sometimes it’s hard to remember that when I’m tired, or when my body (or mind) is not performing as I’d like it to. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that when lounging and eating snacks and watching Netflix seems nice. Sometimes it’s hard to remember when it’s too cold or too hot, or in that pre-run moment when you choose to go without a jacket because you know you’ll warm up within a half mile, but you’ve still got that 15 minutes before the race starts + that half mile before the goosebumps on your arms go away.
But, I want to do this, and here’s why.
In the summer of 2008 I moved to Utah and started running on some warm summer nights—which is still one of my favorite times to run. In the solitude of darkness, meditating and praying, or simply being with my breath and rhythm as I roam my neighborhood.
In the winter of 2014, with a heart healing from a deep depression, I found relief from the heaviness even for just those few moments on the elliptical, treadmill, or on the road. And the feeling of incredible accomplishment when I finished my first 10k race that June (and two weeks later, my first Ragnar relay). I had “run” 5k’s for years, just for fun, but these two races, to me, mark the point where I really began pushing myself as a runner.
In the winter of 2017, healing from betrayal and grief, I asked a friend of mine to be my running coach. For the first time, I completed specific workouts catered toward my goals (and committed to a larger-than-ever goal of completing my first half marathon). Running went hand-in-hand with my healing and betrayal trauma recovery, and I experienced many moments of elation as I found sincere joy and fulfillment in sprint workouts, and accomplishment in reaching new PR’s and new distances. I consider this the first time I started truly “training” as a runner.
Running has played different roles at different times of my life, and I have a feeling that this will continue to evolve especially over the next few months and this whole year.
But at this very moment, this is why I run:
I can let go of any bad day, stressful moment, heavy thought within 2 minutes of getting out on the road (okay, 5 minutes, tops). That’s all it takes to lift the heaviness.
It reminds me how far I’ve come, and also reminds me to be compassionate with myself when I still have a ways to go to reach my goals. If we didn’t have room for improvement, then what’s the point? I’m in no rush; I am learning.
I want to build up my speed and technique to go faster! I want to see what my mind and body can do.
And bonus: It IS a bit nice to be able to eat more when I’m training hard 😉
…but that’s not what I’m thinking of when I’m training or racing. Just the little bonus, haha!
So on Saturday, I want to enjoy every moment of that race. I want to bask in every step up that hill at the beginning, and I want to feel the breeze in my hair as I let go and fly down the hill. I want to savor every heavy step in the last stretch there—I know where I’ll be going, and I’m going to get there.
I run because I love it. I race because I love it. I want to do all of it, and I’m going to keep doing it, and enjoy every moment.