Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why Running Is All About Small Victories

Not every run is about going fast, or far, or hard. Some runs serve no other purpose than for you to be able to say, “I ran today.” This morning’s otherwise nondescript 3.25 jog around the neighborhood did just that for me.

I’m not a morning runner. Sure, I get up nice and early on race day, but during the week, I’d rather sleep in, get to work early and run before dinner. Every once in a while, I convince myself before bedtime that I will get up in the morning and run. Hours later, the alarm goes off, I scowl, curse, hit snooze and stay in bed. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened.

Last night, I did this again, even though my streak suggested I had no chance of actually running. I set my alarm for 7 a.m., only to receive a wakeup call from two hungry cats a few minutes before that. This gave me a chance to look out the window and confirm my worst suspicions: It was a cold, wet, windy and altogether dreary morning, reminiscent of early March in New England as opposed to late April. I fed the cats, went back to bed and reset the alarm for 8.

An hour, it was still cold, wet, windy and altogether dreary. But I thought about it for a while and ultimately decided, “What the hell?” I had nothing to lose by staying in bed -- I’d no workout planned for the day -- but I wanted to get out there. Sure, it was slow going at first, and my body had a few choice words for my brain for heading out into the cold, cruel world, but less than three minutes into the run, I felt fine.

This was my slowest run of the year by far. I don’t care. Running is about small victories -- completing a new distance, setting a PR, conquering a difficult course or meeting new friends -- while in pursuit of a greater goal. Today’s small victory was stepping out of my comfort zone and reminding myself that running in the morning isn’t so bad after all. I haven’t completely abandoned this dread of the early morning, mid-week run -- the next time I plan one, I’ll undoubtedly go through this whole song and dance again -- but I have begun to put this feeling, shall we say, in my rearview mirror: