Happy Runner, Happy Life

I’m reading The Happy Runner and part of the book is about gaining some clarity on your personal running Why’s. This is what I came up with in 30 minutes. I reserve the right to edit at any point in the future.

Why do I run at all? I run because I like to get out into the forest on the trails. I like being close to the trees and to nature. The air is cleaner, it’s quiet, there usually aren’t many people. I like running to explore new places. I like running when I travel – I can see more of a new place on my feet. I like to learn routes in new cities. There’s some discovery appeal. The idea of serendipity. I’m open to the unexpected. I like to run uphill a lot. Mostly in the mountains. I don’t like running downhill fast because I’m scared I’m going to get hurt. When I was a kid I was running into our apartment in Berlin and slipped on a metal grate and fractured my ankle, then I used a pair of my sister’s crutches and proceeded to fall down a flight of stairs, fracturing the other ankle. I wheeled around in a wheelchair before I could hobble and scoot across the floor to get around. The final reason that I run is because my mom has multiple sclerosis. I’m terrified that some day I won’t be able to be active and so it’s a reminder of my own fragility and mortality. Running is freedom. I feel great after I run, like the world is full of possibilities and that thing that was so heavy on my mind before I went running is just a mild annoyance.

Why do I run each day? I’m mostly constrained by work and family obligations. If I have the time, I’ll typically seize the opportunity to go for a run. If I’ve been on my feet all day working (physical work, like in the shop or in the garden) I may not go for a run – on those days I get nearly as many steps as a 10K or longer just walking up and down stairs and around the house. I find it relatively easy to get out the door, I don’t ever dread going for a run. More often I’ll get to the farthest point out on my run and maybe take a brief pause to recognize that I’ve come halfway and savor the way home. If I had the time, I would run every day, but some days I have meetings or just a short window between responsibilities. In my 20’s I made a vow to myself to never run for less than 45 minutes. I’ve only broken that when I’ve gone running with my children or racing a 5k… wait… or a 10k 🙂

Why am I racing at all? I’m not right now. Ultra running events feel more like group runs, which I can muster only occasionally. I’m concentrating really hard when I’m trail running – it’s meditative. I’ve raced shorter trail races in the past and really enjoyed the tight pack running through the forest at high speed. It’s exhilarating. But I don’t enjoy it more than going for a long run in the woods by myself. In order to race longer, 50k – 100 miler, it takes more time and planning. I would rather listen to my body and run when, where and how I feel than following a training regimen. I planned to race a marathon in July 2019, but overtrained between cycling and increasing my running mileage. I didn’t have the foundation to do a hard 30 mile ride followed by a hard 20 mile run the next day.

Why do I have long term goals? This one is super tough. I’m sorry to say that I don’t right now. The past 3 years after running my first and only 100 miler I have only tried to be consistent – consistently balancing 20-30 miles / week + family obligations. I’ve tried to be overall mountain strong by lifting weights in addition to cycling about 40 miles per week. I feel as if I’ve been in maintenance mode. I climbed a bit more, Mt. Rainier in July 2018 and a few days ice climbing in Ouray in February 2019. I completed (partially) my goal of riding my bike from Portland to Mt Hood, then climbing and skiing it. This one may warrant a do over, but it was my second attempt and I got much further than the first attempt (I climbed and skied from Illumination Rock). Overall, the future plan is the problem I’m working on. I’d like to race a 100 miler (now that I know I can go the distance). And I’d like to do some multi-day linkups in the PNW. I also have climbing goals for the coming season for which a strong aerobic base and strength training will help. There’s one goal I can think of that’s been rattling around my brain for a while. I want to run the Zane Gray 100K in Arizona.

The book is great. First part is all about getting into the right mindset to have a long running career. It’s good. I just set a calendar reminder to register for Zane Gray 😉

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