Saturday, April 2, 2011

Beauty in the Basics

I had the chance to run in the Palo Duro Canyon on Monday. It’s the second largest canyon in the United States, appropriately located in Canyon, Texas. And, it is breathtakingly beautiful. Winding my way through the hard pack trails, past stunning rock formations and up and down steep hills, I found myself feeling thankful. There was a chill in the air, not another human being in sight and dead silence. If you think that sounds like the perfect setting for a catharsis, you’re right.

Somewhere during that run, I learned something new about running. Scratch that. Perhaps, I remembered something old. Running, the same sport that gets your heart rate soaring, your sweat glands pumping and your legs aching, can be very relaxing. For the past three years, I have been sort of a running snob – when it comes to my own running, not others. If I’m not doing a week filled with fartleks, tempos and track workouts, I’m not working hard. I can't afford to have that attitude anymore. For the time being all I can and should do is run. 40-60 minutes a day, no special instructions. Just put on my shoes (and my shorts) and go out the door. I don't wear the Garmin. I just run on feel. At first, I was anxious, and now I find it very freeing.

And that is how I felt as I made my way through the Palo Duro Canyon. Free. Running and thinking about how much fun it is. No Garmin. No mile markers. Just one foot in front of the other. It’s the best way to explore a new landscape. When there was something that caught my eye, I stopped and stared. A couple of times nothing in particular caught my eye, I would find myself amazed by my surroundings and I would take a few seconds to stand there on the trail and take in a panoramic view.

The day before, although I had done my own run in the morning, I was excited for the opportunity to join Lauren on her three mile afternoon run. We were running from her grandparent's farm and the entirety of the run was along a cattle pasture. I spent the run coaxing the cows to race us and believe it or not, they did. I kept yelling "moo" at them, and since they responded, I can only assume I am fluent in the language of the bovine.

The point of all this; neither of these were my fastest runs. Neither run was my longest run. But, both are runs I won't soon forget. How many 7, 8 or even 15 milers have I been on during a marathon cycle that I can't remember a darn thing about?

Don't worry, I am not going all soft. I want to run fast. I itch to be back on the track. I want to race and secretly, I am planning races to target. But when you are in a situation that you can't change, you do yourself a much better service when you see the positives of it. Sure, these runs I just gushed about weren't the capstone runs of Boston training by any means, but no run is unimportant. Each one is a step to getting to where we want to be. We all have a goal in mind. Maybe it's to lose weight. Maybe it's to PR in a new distance. Maybe it's to cut down on gas. For me, it's to get back into shape and strenghthen some injured muscles. Sure, there is a big difference between running marathons and running errands. But, we all start at the same place...with an easy run.

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