Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happy Jogger

Kathrine Switzer's Marathon Woman is one of my favorite books of all time, particularly because she so aptly describes all of the emotions, dreams, sensory experiences, and sensations of a runner. Moreover, her story is one of ambition: the drive to train for a marathon, eventually reach a 2:51 marathon PR, and to push the IOC to allow the women's marathon to be an Olympic event in 1984.
After her first (and most infamous) marathon, she decided to train for her second. Kathrine had a time goal in mind, and said if she didn't achieve it, she would be content being "a happy jogger" for the rest of her life.
I think about that idea - the happy jogger. I know they are out there - people who run who like to run, but don't get wrapped up around the precise time or distance they go. They don't do races - they just run, literally for fun. And we who do races do it for fun too, but there are definitely competitive goals embedded in our drive to get out there and get after it. I know that's how I feel now...I want to keep improving.
But there will be a time/age when there will be a peak, and then the inevitable decline. I hope I'll still want to have that competitive drive, and shoot for age group PRs. But whether its age or what, I hope I could also be a happy jogger.
A lot of my runs lately have been on the treadmill. It's been too icy outside to run, so I've been having date nights with the machine and ready to go crazy. Finally on Friday, we had a mini heat wave and I knew this would help. On Saturday, we went to Pennsylvania for the day. So, I had a good enough run. Instead of 10 miles with 5 at tempo pace, I had a good enough run of 5 miles. The sun was out, 30 degrees felt warm, and this was perfect. The 5 miles flew by, and it made me think about the happy jogger. I think if I wasn't training, 5-6 miles would be the perfect distance to do all of the time. It's in and out relatively quickly, it burns a decent amount of calories but doesn't knock you out for the rest of the day either. The endorphin rush comes, maybe it's not the runner's high, but definitely a sense of accomplishment and relief. It did the job - it cleared my head and had me ready for the day.
Today I ran 13.1 as a training run - 1:39:45. It was an even warmer day today - I had shorts on, and it was a nice teaser for spring. It was great, and I loved it. Hey, it's the super bowl - I'd like to be able to enjoy all of the snacks! But I know there will be a time when I won't feel like getting out there for that long.
And so for now, there are flashes of the happy jogger - a good reminder of the purity of this whole running thing.

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