With three weeks to go until the half marathon, I’ve hit the point in training where I plan my weekends around running. This weekend I got in a nice quick 6m/10k with my running club, followed by a long steady 10m/16k on Sunday. (One added benefit of running is that it’s helping with my miles to kilometers mental conversions!) The weather was gorgeous for running (and in general) – just cool and sunny. My running club routes tend to go through downtown, so for my longer Sunday runs I like to plan a more scenic route, usually along the harbourfront or up the Don River trail. Still, I’ve been getting a bit bored with those options so on Sunday I decided to head east and explore the Beaches. The trail network near me is pretty solid, so I just went right where I usually go left and followed the trail to the first beach.
After a short stretch next to a busy road, I was rewarded with this gorgeous view. The boardwalk was busy with joggers, dog walkers, and couples strolling with their morning coffee. I’ve definitely found my new favorite running path.
Of course, running along the sand reminded me of my favorite path in Chicago.
When someone asks about my weekend plans and my answer is “oh, running 10 miles,” the most frequent response is “why?” in a tone that implies that no sane person would elect to put themselves through such torture. Why would I choose to go to bed at a reasonable hour on a Saturday and the carve out a couple hours to put one foot in front of the other in fairly rapid succession? This is something I often think about while doing just that, especially when I’m tired and sweaty and my feet ache and I’m checking my watch every 20 seconds to see how far I have left to go. Sure, I love getting outside for a bit, exploring the city, and enjoying the beautiful scenery, but I’m not going to lie – if my friend Carlie wasn’t training to run this with me I would have dropped out. I hit a stretch of a few weeks where I just didn’t want to run. At all. It’s normal for motivation to wax and wane, but my training plan didn’t account for a slump so I had to get it back quickly. Luckily, one of my favorite health and fitness bloggers wrote an excellent post on how she manages to get out of bed every morning to run. The best way to stay motivated is to remember why you’re doing something in the first place, so in that spirit I made a mental list during Sunday’s long run.
- I like to eat, and working out means I can eat more.
- Running has become integral to my stress management. When work or life get a little crazy, a good workout helps me keep my head on straight, gets rid of that anxious energy, and lets me focus on the task at hand. On a good run I’ll hit a sort of zen state where I forget that I’m running and I can just sort through whatever issue is top of mind.
- It feels like you’re part of a community. I love seeing the same friendly people at my running club each week, but the sense of belonging still exists when I’m running alone and exchange a little nod or wave with other runners who cross my path.
- There’s a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment after finishing a tough workout – even if it didn’t go as well as you would have liked – that makes anything else that comes up in the day easier to manage.
- Most importantly, I do it because I can. I’ve only been a runner for a few years. Before that, I could barely run a mile. Getting in shape and learning to run was a not-insignificant undertaking, and remembering that my worst runs now are still better than my best runs when I first started always puts an extra spring in my step.
I know I’ll need to refer to this list regularly over the next few weeks. I’ve got a bunch of travel coming up, including a week in Vegas for work and a weekend in New York to visit Stephanie, so staying on top of training is going to be tricky. Luckily Stephanie and I have a run in Central Park planned – can’t wait!