Getting out for a run can be the mental release you need from everything else going on around you.
Some people have favourite routes – trails or running courses that they just can’t wait to run anytime they schedule an outing or escape there. I’m the contrary to this idea by adoring the familiar. Doing a lot of the same runs, days and weeks at a time, shows me that I’m building on a foundation where I can view progress.
If anything, I have least favorite running routes and locations. These are the places where you know you have to run, but it really makes getting up early in the morning or getting out at any time that much more difficult.
And this thought stuck with me when I had to travel home.
There’s always been a mental snag for me when it comes to running in the place I grew up. A run where I live feels breezy and like common practice, but when I’m back in my hometown, squeaking out a short run is a chore.
It’s not that the rolling hills of my hometown are tougher by any means. I started off as a runner there – doing it more out of necessity to stay in shape for other sports in high school than actually loving the escape it brings me now. Whether it’s the now defunct 5K route around town or my old cross-country course, they always seem to feel like the longest runs ever.
Upsetting family issues were the reason for my sojourn back home this weekend, and the thought of a scheduled 19 km – with 6km at half marathon pace – didn’t move me like a quality workout normally would.
Lots of internal fighting went on during my five-hour car ride home. My body would probably become rigid from being stuck in a vehicle all evening, allergies forced many sneezes and coughs and I was running on very little sleep from the night before.
“You should just take a couple zeroes this weekend,” I mumbled to myself several times.
I also kept thinking of a long, frustrating 22km run the last time I was home. Remembering that slog forced me into the belief that the 19km run in the morning would, once again, end up feeling like a waste.
I slept (poorly, again) that night, but woke up early to a gorgeous sunrise over the lush, green hills that I know so well. The temperature took a sharp drop on Saturday morning and a cool fog lingered over the river just down the road.
“I can’t pass this up,” I thought as a grinding day lay ahead. I slipped into my gear, headed to another one of those not-so-fun routes, and banged out my 19 kilometres. Somehow, it wasn’t only the best run I’ve ever had at home, it was the best I’ve felt during this specific tempo workout while marathon training.
The key? More so than the perfect temperature, I think, was knowing that the run could be an escape. If I could harness my mind to do nothing but think about the run ahead – not work to do or, more pressing, a family loss that seemed hard to fathom – for 90 minutes, then I would have some control over a world that often feels to be spinning too fast.
Every run has that opportunity, and I’m glad I saw that.