Today has been different than most days in the past couple of weeks. The last day I went running was on Thursday August 8, and have been topping out on my routine runs between 3-6 miles. Not a big deal, I have not had the ideal schedule to crank out more. However today was different. I didn’t plan anything specific, just figured it would be good to get out after spending most of the weekend getting over an aching back pain. I didn’t want to push my luck but wanted to test my limits. After lubing up the running deck on the treadmill I decided to run a few miles on it to see if going out was worth it.
After running just a couple of miles I felt no pain. So I decided to head to a flat area and go some more. I managed some decent miles on the legacy trail and felt no pain but called it quits due to the heat and not prepping for a long run in the heat.
The biggest thing I immediately noticed was that my face did not appear as large. For some reason this is the first place I retain water when I cut back on running.
Next was my mood. My mood in the past couple of weeks has been mediocre. Not bad, just not my usual self.
When I got home after my run I noticed how much stress that I had shed. Today was not the usual routine of unloading a little bit of stress and moving on with my day. I felt like I had been carrying around a full 11 days of worry, resentment and stress.
Here is a list of factors as to why today’s run was more therapeutic then others.
1- I did not have expectations that made me stressed, thus enabling me to just go the distance. I already knew what I could crank out comfortable but did not feel the need to over do it. There have been days past that I have just gone out and ended up going much further then what I did today, but again I just went the distance without expectations.
2- I was in a position to not care about my running time cutting out delicate family time. I have a very supportive family that wants to see me accomplish goals. However I feel like I have this support because they know that I would drop anything to attend a soccer game, or any event that my spouse or children deem as important (not what I deem as important). I schedule around these times and do my best to not wear my accomplishments on my sleeve, but they never disappoint to give praise for my accomplishments.
3- I did not have any electronics to distract from the simplicity of exercise. I have heard of people calling these type of runs “naked runs”. I went with no music, no gps watch or any other thing that would distract me. Just my body, running clothes and shoes. I prefer a minimalistic approach to running, just keeping things simple makes less complications.
4- I thought about nothing but happy things. I did not sit there in my head dwelling on stupid mantras or needlepoint sayings. I thought about my family and how nice it would be to take them on certain vacations. I thought about the days of when my kids were newborns. I thought about the days I met my wife and the exciting days as a newlywed. I thought about how grateful I was for going outside. I didn’t force myself to think happy thoughts, they just came and I did not hinder them.
All of these might sound silly, but they are a fundamental reason why strenuous exercise can be beneficial. Not every run will be like this, and I do my best not to expect this type of outcome every time. But as for today I am grateful for what I have.