Friday, February 10, 2017

What I Love Most About Running...While Running

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, we've all got love on the brain. Or maybe you always have love on the brain, Valentine's-related or not. I have love on the brain because it's the topic for this week's Friday Five blog link up. And while I could just talk about my top 5 reasons for loving to run, I thought I'd write about what I love about the actual act of running.

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Friday Five 2.0 link up, hosted by Rachel at Running on Happy and Lacey and Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness. When you're done here, be sure to check these ladies out!

Let's be honest, poll a group of runners and most of them will tell you that, while they love what running does for them (running friends, seeing new places, losing weight, etc.), they don't actually love running. They love the run when it's over but the act of running itself isn't always great. And I agree. This week especially, I've had a lot of stuff going on and I haven't felt my strongest and most motivated. The runs haven't been the best. Which is all the more reason why I wanted to talk about the 5 things I love the most about the act of running: not just what it does for me, but what I love while on the run. I try to focus on these things when I'm having a hard time. I try to bring it back to the moment I'm in and what about the actual act of running that makes me happy. It helps for those tough times when I'd rather be doing something else!

1. Hearing my feet hit the ground. I rarely run with music and, besides the safety issue, it's mostly to listen to my feet hit the ground. The coach in me is listening for changes in foot strike, cadence and stride but the runner in me loves that light tap, tap, tap as I run along the street or the crunch, crunch, crunch when on the trail. And when I'm with a group of runners, it's like music to my ears. All that tapping makes my heart sing.

2. Getting especially muddy or filthy. There is a certain satisfaction for me when I run through a muddy or dusty trail and come out absolutely disgusting. Mud and dirt streaked all over my legs and feet makes me smile. I love dirt lines on my ankles. That line when I take off my gaiters or socks? It makes me giggle. I actually can't wait to get home to show my family. It all just makes the run so much fun! And it kinda makes me feel a little badass.

3. Feeling the burn. Another reason why I don't run with music is so I can pay attention to all the feels. The literal physical feels. I want to feel my heart rate increase when I climb a mountain. I want to feel my legs burn after that climb. I want to feel the sweat drip off my hat and down my back. Sure, there are times when I get to a point where everything hurts and I want to die. But on a typical training run, I enjoy feeling my body work the way it's supposed to. I am such a geek and I picture my muscles contracting, my blood wooshing through my veins, my heart beating. This is what our bodies were made for - moving!

4. That feeling when it all clicks. When you're out on a run and things just start to work they way they're supposed to, it's pretty heavenly. Your pace feels awesome, you've got a tail wind, you feel light as air and everything else just melts away. It's just you and the run. Man, there isn't much that's better than that feeling.

5. That feeling when nothing is clicking but you get through it anyway. This is really what made me want to write this blog post. While out on my trail run today, I was struggling. I have been stressed and fatigued and I just wasn't into the run. But I kept telling myself that it's getting through moments like this that will help me the most. This is what will make me stronger. Sure, those great runs are nice too. But gutting it out and working through these tough times will help me get through other hard times. And getting past these moments feels pretty darn good too.

A bonus thing? When all of it comes together - I hear my heart beating, my legs are aching, I sing along to the crunch crunch crunch of my foot strike, I push through the pain and come out the other side when everything clicks. And I'm absolutely filthy when it's over. That is magic right there.

What do you love while running? What about the physical act of running makes your heart sing?