For the Love of Running

Just Running Through Life…

good for the soul

Like anything physical, we do it to feel good, to be healthy, to look good. The moment our hobby turns in to a competitive sport is the moment the feeling of EVERYTHING changes. We are no longer focused on the good of which these physical activities are providing; we are more focused on our times, our performance, our overall calories burned and our heart rate. It becomes more fact than it does feeling.

When we have to start reading our watches, our heart rate monitors, pacing our runs, are we doing it for the good of our bodies anymore? Are we even listening to our bodies? Or is it just a goal we have set for ourselves mentally beyond the physical aspect of it all? We want to win. Our society always wants to be first. “If you’re not first your last.” Right?

I got to a point in my running ‘career,’ where I felt terrible. I hurt everywhere, but I didn’t care. I was at an all time ‘fast’ and an injury couldn’t stop me, or at least I wasn’t about to let it. No, I didn’t feel good, my runs were OK, my legs hurt because I was typically running on and/or through injury, but my cardiovascular system was superb. It made me want to run faster. I wanted to maintain or beat my fastest times, over and over and over. I never gave myself any opportunity for recovery. Running a minimum of 4 miles up to 13 miles a day, 6-7 days a week with MAYBE a single recovery day, MAYBE, was wreaking havoc on my body. I didn’t care.

In my top drawer along with all of my pretty jewelry, I have this heart rate monitor, and I have run some of my fastest runs with that little contraption wrapped around my wrist. Let me tell you, I have also never been sicker, more frequently injured, and it was beginning to take me twice as long to recover from those faster runs of mine. So in my drawer it now sits. I don’t use it to capture my current pace anymore. I don’t use it to push myself beyond what I would normally do. Why? A few reasons; 1. I’m not running for a place on a podium, 2. It isn’t my ‘career,’ I’m not being paid to do it. And 3. Because nearly one year ago I was running the San Diego Half Marathon and I felt terrible from the get go. ‘From the get go,’ I mean from the hotel room. I started my day clammy and ghost white on my walk over to the starting line. Let me remind you, I was just walking to the starting line of a 13.1-mile long run. Things were looking a little glum.

It was at mile 2, yes, only mile 2, which is where I noticed I was drenched in sweat. Like soaked. Let me remind you, we were in San Diego in June, it was overcast and 63 degrees, it couldn’t have been more perfect running conditions. I knew something was wrong because even though I was stopping at every water station, I was also drinking 2-3 cups of water and/or Gatorade, I could not quench my thirst. I was dehydrated and it is clear to me now, that at that moment I should have called it a day. Instead I decided I would glance down at my heart rate monitor, you know, just to ‘check in.’ Low and behold I was running an average of 8:10 minutes per mile, that included my water breaks. So needless to say, Ego chimed in and let me know that I was not about to stop, not now. I had a great thing going, sick or not, tired or not, knee pain or not, I only had 11.1 miles left and I was going to finish it damn it!

Well, upon completion of this fantastic (I use that term extremely loosely) run and aside from the worst knee pain, excruciating hip flexor pain and IT band tightness that I had ever experienced in all of my years of running, I ended up in the medical tent. 2 IV bags of fluid, Zofran, dextrose pumped in to my veins to help with my extremely low blood sugar levels, vomiting…. 3 hours later (Yes, one and a half times as long as it took me to run the race) I had color in my face, I could sit up right, heck I could even stand. I was so excited I was handing out post-vomit hugs to each of the paramedics and ‘my’ very own Doctor as I was on my way out of the tent…. dragging my left leg behind me.  I had totally forgotten about my left hip flexor.

The point of this story is, is that once a hobby becomes competitive, whether it be against your own personal times or others, we lose site of the real reason we are doing it, or at least we forget to pay attention to the most important piece of the equation: our bodies. Let’s face it, without our incredible flesh, bones and blood, we couldn’t achieve any of our ridiculously awesome goals.

I run so I can stay in shape, so I can keep my cardiovascular system conditioned and so I can spend time with my girls and catch up on their lives every week. THAT is what it is all about, for me anyway. It isn’t about my final time, it isn’t about my pace, it isn’t about the intensity of the person next to me. It is about me. It is about feeling good and that’s it.

It took me a while to get to this point. That goes for yoga too. No I don’t really care that you can come in to sirsasana from your prasarita padottanasana, no I don’t care about your pincha mayurasana, but I do like to watch it.  I love that you feel good when you are in the pose, and if that is why you are doing it.. then I love it. Do yourself a favor and attempt to avoid killing yourself just because you have realized you have an audience to entertain and/ or impress; that’s the moment injury can occur. Let it go. Let your ego go.

So now. I feel good. I am happy to go for a jog whether it be a 9 minute mile jog or a 5:30 minute mile sprint (and I’m talking MAX if it’s a sprint- it’s a single mile. ) I have even been walking more than running more recently because my long-term hip injury/inconvenience is now finally feeling better and I will do anything and everything in my power to keep it that way. So I listen, to my body, to my mind and to my breath because that is what we are supposed to do. The moment it no longer feels good is the moment we have to reevaluate and figure out what it is that does.

Enjoy the moment; enjoy the journey to the finish line, no matter if that finish line is your own or if it is a physical finish line at the end of an event. In the end, it isn’t about anything other than the journey. Isn’t that how we are supposed to live our lives too?

What would happen if you set aside your gadgets and you just took the sound of your breath, the breeze and birds and just ran based on how your body felt? What would happen? You would still be running 4 miles. 4 miles is 4 miles no matter your pace. You’re still burning calories, just do yourself a favor and attempt to listen. Your body is an incredible tool and a fantastic guide. It will tell you when it has had enough or when it wants more. So Lighten up, and seriously. LET. IT. GO.

The moment we no longer find happiness is the moment we have to determine what it is that made us happy to begin with.

Sometimes that is our biggest challenge.

Go Find your happy. XO


  1. I loved this post! So good!

    • Ha! Awesome work man. My leg’s still complaining about the run I had last Friday but I’m going to try ruinnng tomorrow morning. (Now that I have access to a treadmill, I have no excuses with the weather being like it is and all.)God bless you, bro, as you persevere! Go TEAM LLAMATRON!

  2. This is really hard. I miss salt and I work so many hours that I eat on fly even tohguh I eat mostly local good food. Monday I woke up in a hurry to get out the door and realized that I did not remember to bring home my 100 miles foods. I rummaged through my kitchen trying to find any 100-mile foods and found bee pollen from Pomery. I also had milk but I don’t drink milk. I ate some bee pollen and went to the p.e.a.c.h. Farm for Monday AM harvest. Fortunately the farm is full of fresh produce so I ate fresh tomatoes, the black cherry tomatoes are my favorite of the moment, cucumbers, peppers and tomatios. I still ended up being very hunger, likely due to the hard physical work of harvest, by the time I got home at noon. Again I found myself in my non-100 miles stocked kitchen and came up with this dish. I took cream from the top of the milk and saute9ed summer squash, tomitios, fresh oregano and green onion most of which came from our front yard garden (thanks Jac!—he is the one who plants and waters it). It was ok but it REALLY needed SALT! On Monday I missed salt more then anything. I also had a cup of hot tea with mint from our front yard sweetened with local honey, a bowl of cereal with Emmer flakes, honey and milk. What really sustained me was the half gallon of Green Smoothie I made with kale from Tolstoy, chard from Front Porch and nectarines from Twin Springs. Again, I miss salt more then anything else.I want to know what food and creativity that other have come up with.

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