People ask if I enjoy running, or they say ‘enjoy your run’. Enjoy is SO not the right word here. I wouldn’t describe long-running as enjoyment. Or short runs, either.
Which of course begs the question how would I describe it? And why am I doing it if I don’t enjoy it?
Firstly, it’s not a question of not enjoying it, just not actively enjoying it. And not actively disliking it either (though it is pretty horrendous sometimes). Secondly, I’m running for a good cause. But I think it has to be more than that. There has to be something personal, some personal motivation in it, otherwise I don’t see how I’d keep going. How would anyone keep going? It’s not a huge amount of proper fanciful fun, for sure.
It’s challenging, and I do perversely like a challenge. Is it slightly masochistic? Maybe, to a degree, but it’s not pure masochism. Probably best not develop that train of thought in an open forum.
You know it’s gonna hurt a little but you don’t do it for the hurt. Why do I do it? For the completion (see ‘Mantras’ post). For the measurement. For the measurable improvement. Progress can be measured. In minutes. In miles. In lessening levels of discomfort. In increasing portion of race done in lost time/on automatic pilot. Must it be for the endolphins? I know. I know. I just love to call them that. Forget swimming with dolphins. I have them swimming in my head. Much more smiley image.
I am definitely motivated by the challenge and the milestones e.g. 10 miles 12, 15, 20, 26.2… I can measure achievement in how many miles I’ve run. In how many times I’ve ‘run’ up a particular hill.
Aside: I made it up St. Catherine’s Hill FIVE times the other day. There’s a first, not only because of the number of times I ‘ran’ up the hill, but also because I lost the dog – for the only time, I hope. That got the heart pumping more than hill. Then I had to run up the hill again to look for her because she was nowhere to be seen/heard/hear me (and take notice). That caused wobbly legs, a jittery heartbeat and a faint head. Unusual training technique, it has to be said. One I hope not to repeat. Suffice it to say I found the dog, but it was a dodgy 20 minutes.
I’m motivated by the discipline of training. Not sure I should write that because I haven’t been following one of the many training programmes in the magazines/on the web. I’ve been picking and choosing the bits that look ok and do-able to me. Maybe I only like the discipline when I’ve created the programme. I haven’t got my head (or body) round interval training (2 mins at X speed; 1 min at Y speed; repeats) at all. Done none.
Done hills. Cross training. Core work. Stretching. Running. Yasso 800s. Do I enjoy any of it? I’ve had to look up ‘enjoy’ in the dictionary now, just to confirm I’ve got the correct interpretation: “to receive pleasure from, take joy in; to have a good time”. I guess I enjoy it once it’s over. Maybe it’s that simple and that’s all there needs to be.
It is definitely about completing. I may start out with fanciful ideas of improved finish times. But usually part way round I’ve realised I’m being asininely ambitious in my head, aiming for things my body simply can’t achieve, and then it just becomes about completing. Just finishing is good. Enough.
The whole time thing is much less critical. I’m noting approximate finish times. But I don’t have a swanky smart-watch thingy. We already know the idea of intervals turns me cold. I’d rather focus on the long run, try to feel it; internalise the ebb and flow of faster and slower phases (relatively speaking, of course), and build up an internal momentum picture and rhythm of my overall speed.
There is something about a ‘being inside oneself’ experience on these long runs. The working with and against oneself scenario. But maybe these are just traits of the first timer. Should I do another marathon (how funny is that?) maybe, god forbid, I’ll start fixating on interval timings.
Back to challenge and achievement, I read recently that just 1% of people run a marathon (no source for that stat, but we’ll go with the flow with it). It’ll be quite fun to be part of a 1% club. I’ll enjoy that.
Ah. That’ll make it my second 1% club … which inevitably means I’ll need to find a third. Rule of three. Anyone got any ideas?