Friday, April 12, 2013

Running With a Smile

How often do you hear the following comments? Run with a smile. Running is fun. Running is an act of joy. I suspect that the answer is not enough.

Since the tapper (such an evil term it is) is well underway for my track runners, this week has marked
Mile 6 of 13.1 with the wife? Why not smile?
the return of personal training time. Since January, I’ve run six days a week, almost always in a crowd. But this week I have gone on three out of four runs by myself and not as a coach. For most of you, this fact may not seem odd—running is often a solitary act, something done on our own, for us. For me, a personal who relishes independence and basks in solitude, getting out there on my own has been a welcome respite. This independence can lead to a multitude of things, but in the end, it is always positive.

Coaching brings with it a sense of duty and pressure. I owe it to my runners to train them, to push them, and to aid them in their endeavors. I am not the head coach, but I have responsibility. These kids expect me to run at their pace on long runs, to push them through workouts, and to support their needs. When they need to talk, I need to listen. When they need to run consistent 2:40 intervals for a 6x800m, I need to get them there, however I can, even if it comes at my own expense. I love every minute of it and would do it for free (I have in the past). 

That said, we’ve cut down on the mileage and I’m at the stage where I’m about to pick it up. I’m not into the tapper, so outside of one track workout, I’ve run mostly on my own this week. I’ve smiled a lot. On Sunday, I hit the beach, tracked through uneven sand, with no goal in mind other than 45 minutes. All I could do was smile and enjoy the day. I ran real, I ran happy, and my face showed it. There was no pain in those 5.27 miles, just pure joy. I bounded through water, across shells, on washed up jellyfish and ran into a few people here or there I hadn’t seen in a while. Chasing the tide is fun, trying to find your footprints, while juvenile, is too. I had forgotten such days amongst the constant need to push through and advance during a season.
Not giant, but a smile nonetheless.

Running is natural, pure, and fun. Sometimes we get caught in our training plans—run “X” workout here, “Y” miles there, and thus focus only on the process. Sometimes the process can wear us down, making us forget about just how great running is. Running often creates pain and misery through the sheer difficulty of the act, but on the right night, at the right time, it generates joy-the smile that stretches ear-to-ear while in the midst of physical exertion.

On Tuesday night I ran 6.25 mile, starting and finishing in front of my house. I went out with no plan other than miles—recover a bit, take in some time on the road, and prepare for Wednesday’s workout. I took it easy early on, but then I felt that spark mentioned above, that need, and I went, hitting negative splits and running the last mile around 6:15 pace. I smiled throughout the duration, I could feel it. As the speed picked up, the conversion was natural. I became a little kid running through the park, oblivious of physical exertion, immune to pain, only finding glee. Adding to the moment, I also sang, screaming songs at the top of my lungs. I didn’t have an iPod with me, haven’t run with one in months, but on this night I didn’t care what people thought, said or experienced. I had fun.

When I finished, I let out a guttural yell. I was that guy. In fact I am that guy. Running is fun. It is supposed to be, no matter how hard the work is, remember that fact. Remember the finish line, remember how free you feel when you just let your body go. Run with a smile. 

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