My favorite thing about running is the utter simplicity. Last night I struggled so much with motivation to work out that I actually gave up, came upstairs, and declared that I wasn’t going to do it before I finally went back to the garage and got it done – largely because I was feeling overwhelmed and discouraged by knowing that I was stronger and faster and hurt less last year, so that my workout felt intimidating not physically, but emotionally. I’m slower and lack the endurance I had, as well, but running is so simple that there are not really many excuses not to get going, and even fewer not to just keep going.
When I need to clear my head or focus on just one problem at a time, it’s my running shoes, not my lifters, that I reach for. As long as I keep making the very simple decision to pick my left foo tup after my right foot, over and over, there’s no other choosing to do – no timer schemes to set, no weight plates to calculate, no kettle bell to select – if I check my Garmin I can tell whether I’m going “slow” or not, but it’s not the same as selecting an exact number of pounds or reps or a goal time. Running allows to be emotionally still in a way I’m not when stationary. Perhaps this is why I love it so much when so many people hate it – the feeling of freedom, especially during a good fast run, is nice, but it’s the peace that even a humble jog can bring me through moving my body in space, outdoors that has the greatest value. I suppose that is what some people get out of yoga – although to me it is yoga that feels tedious, fussy, and onerous!
This weekend’s effort wasn’t the most impressive, since I was picking my way around snow banks and ice patches, but just being outside despite the winter was enough to make me feel like my worries were farther away and the winter more survivable. Back when I lived in New York and commuted on a subway line where my stop was literally below my office building, I used to say it was my way of not becoming a mole person – leaving home to commute through a dark tunnel, only to leave the office after nightfall and emerge again from the tunnel into yet more dark. Sometimes it felt like the only thing I did to be exposed to daylight… and it was an excellent excuse to leave behind my blackberry. All I had to do to go for a run is get my shoes on and… go. No more decisions, no more pressure, commit once and just keep going.