Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Finding Joy

"Bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse
assail him, impale him with monster-truck force"

If you are not a Cake fan, then you probably won't recognize those lyrics from their song "The Distance."  However, I can't help repeating that line in an endless loop inside my head when I think of where my training plan has gone these past couple of weeks, namely, down the toilet.  Dealing with a hamstring/glute/hip injury at such a key point in my Jungfrau training has definitely shaken me - caused me much doubt on where this all is going.

When I look at the bright side, I remind myself that I actually planned for getting injured.  That's why I have two 20-milers on The Plan, in the event that I have to revise The Plan.  When I don't focus on the bright side I sing my own doubt-and-remorse, woe-is-me song about not meeting goals, disappointing myself, never being able to run again!  Okay, okay, I know that last one is overkill, but still - we're talking about strong emotions here.

So, in the midst of my doldrums and glumness, and facing a 17-mile slogfest this past Sunday, Hubby gave me a simple piece of advice - go out and find the joy.  Huh?  What do you mean?  I'm joyful.  I love running ..... just not now.  But there is a reason for that, right?  An excuse?  I am INJURED.  How am I supposed to feel?  Well, apparently, joyful.

We had a long conversation about this, but I'll try to sum it up briefly here.  Basically, what he was trying to remind me of was that running is supposed to be fun.  Training plans, race goals ... those don't mean much if you are not finding the joy in running.  According to him, injured or not, I would be better off running for the joy of it and not worrying so much about The Plan.  After all, what good is doggedly following a training plan going to be if when I arrive at race day I am miserable, burned out, or hurting?

He reminded me that if I run for the joy of it, even if I don't hit the miles I want on a weekly basis, I will still be able to do the race because I will enjoy the experience - and that joy will allow me to keep going where misery would not.  Strangely, it all made sense.

So, in concrete terms, what did that mean for my Sunday 17-miler?  Well, upon Hubby's advice, I was to go out to the trails and, first of all, just enjoy being on the trails, which I do love.  Secondly, I was to run for the joy of it.  When it wasn't so joyful anymore, I should run so long as it was just mildly uncomfortable.  Finally, I should run so long as I could tolerate it.  Anything past that, and I should be done.  Notice I didn't say "quit."  Quitting would come if I were stubbornly adhering to The Plan, which right now isn't working for me.  Being done means that I am listening to my body and knowing when to stop.

So, Sunday I went out and found the joy again.  I ran the first mile at a 1-1 run-walk with my kids and Hubby, who was wrapping up his own run.  (And if you can't find joy in running with kids when they are happy, I don't know where you can find it.)  I then did a Galloway-style run for another eight miles.  I started with a 2-1 ratio, and when that went well, I moved to a 4-1.  I honestly did find peace out there on Sunday.  My hamstring/glute/hip weren't the happiest feeling, but I loved being on the trails. It was a beautiful day and running was fun.  Well, for about five miles.  Somewhere after that, it dipped to just tolerable.  And then by nine miles, I knew I should be done.  But, you know what?  I am okay with that.  Sure, I was a little disappointed that I didn't reach The Plan's Goal, but I left the run on a positive note.  I was happy with what I accomplished, and I enjoyed myself.  I somehow put my faith in the fact that everything will work out.

Finding Joy on the dusty trails.
After my Run for Joy on Sunday, I got home and rolled the crap out of my legs and then decided to take Monday off.  Strangely, yesterday, when I woke up I was feeling so much better and I was actually eager to get out there to try to run.  I took the same Finding Joy approach, and although I wore my watch for record-keeping's sake, I didn't look at it.  I ran for a total of five miles, and the first three and a half felt relatively good (even better than Sunday did).  When the joy started to flag a little, I took off my shoes and socks and decided to run barefoot in the grass for a bit.  Ostensibly, this was to work on my form some, but really it just turned out to be fun.  I felt like a kid playing around.  After a third of a mile, the legs were noticing the strain, but with Joy recharged, I ran the last mile home with a big smile on my face.

I am not sure where the injury is at in its healing process, but I think it is getting better slowly.  I have a massage scheduled for today, which I am looking forward to, then I'll try running again tomorrow or Friday.  Regardless of when I run again, though, I will definitely be on the lookout for the joy.  I kind of like this approach to running.

Have you signed up for my BODYGLIDE WarmFX Anti-Pain Balm Giveaway yet?  If not, now is the time!  Go here to enter!

Do you have anyone who motivates you to think outside the box with your running?


  1. Great post! I feel like running without a training plan all summer has helped me find joy in running. But the plan starts next week, so we'll see if I can be joyful in planning. And I love that song! Even before I started running running, I liked to run to it.

    1. I go back and forth between wanting to run for the fun of it and wanting to really improve and go for new goals. Somehow I find it hard to balance to the two. I think what I am finding, though, is that if I have to choose, I am probably better off just running for the fun of it. I want this to last a lifetime after all. :)