After two days of rest to prevent injury after possibly over-doing it, I decided I was ready to run again. Last Saturday, I enthusiastically and joyfully went running in my barefoot shoe of choice, the Vibram KSO, and may have stressed my calves out a wee bit. But this morning, it was a delightfully cool near 60 degrees and I decided I would go out for a run, and really go for speed. For this, I wore a shoe with some sole. 🙂
For me, going for a morning run has always meant waking up 15 minutes before heading out the door. I’ll drink some water, get dressed, grab my phone and keys, shoe-up, and head out the front door of my apartment complex at a steady jog. Recently, I experienced some Achilles pain, and while lamenting my woes to a fellow (more experienced) runner, I was advised to allow my legs a warm-up. Walk for five minutes, then start to run. Since implementing this practice over my last two outings, and I have noticed a huge difference! My legs do not get that tight, unhappy feeling when I first start out on the pavement. This five-minute warm-up is now a part of the daily run routine.
Needless to say, when my five minutes of walking were up, I felt good. I spontaneously decided to run a different route, and that I would run the first mile (which later became 10 minutes rather than a mile) as fast as I could, comfortably. Pushing a little, but still breathing regularly and not needing to stop to recoup. After the first half mile, I came to an intersection that was more congested with locals heading out to their jobs in their cars, and as I was slowing to stop for a car to cross in front of me, the driver kindly waved me across. As he continued on his way, he rolled down his window and proclaimed “Nice stride!” A broad smile crossed my face, and I turned to wave, hollering back, “Thank you!”
There is nothing so encouraging as having a stranger offer up a positive comment while running. During this first leg of my run, I was concentrating on my gait: keeping my turnover quick, and stride shorter because I know this keeps my pace at a nice clip. Before I encountered this gentleman, I had actually been pondering running, as we are like to do while practicing the sport, and noticing that I felt different. I felt my legs moving in a way that until that moment, I had only observed seasoned runners with lean legs and an unfailing stride demonstrate. I suddenly realized I felt like a runner. During this revelation, a passerby noticed, and affirmed that what I felt was truly visible.
I have been running off and on for about thirteen years, and something has finally shifted within me to be able to claim “runner” for myself. I am willing to push myself to the point of some discomfort, whereas in years past, I would only jog if it was easy; not daring to push myself past that invisible wall, afraid of encountering potential pain. Perhaps, after a year of some pretty extreme ups and downs, and moments of leaps in personal growth, I am finally able to bear pain due to moderate stress because it no longer causes anxiety; I am finally comfortable breaching that line which leads to the unfamiliar. I am, of course, still conscientious of the fact that there are limits to the body, and I will not knowingly do something that I think will hurt me (and make me unable to run for an extended period of time).
I am simply willing to test my limits and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I want to work on improving my mile pace, my stride, increasing turnover, and to continue really feeling like a runner.
Because I am.