Running Update: February 23, 2017

Well, it’s Thursday again!  So much for doing this by Monday.

No great photos, but I have been doing the far northern part of the lakefront trail (the less scenic portion, but still a nice run) somewhat regularly when not just doing my normal neighborhood run. Here’s a view of one bit of that (by the golf course going south near Irving Park):

I’d like to drive to another local trail, but don’t think I will have time over the weekend (opera matinee Sunday afternoon, among other things), but may at least run up to and do the beginning of a trail not terribly far from me where I used to ride my bike. Will take photos there if my phone cooperates!

Last week I didn’t make my goals 100% (I dithered around all Sunday and then ran out of time for my planned 10 mile run and cut it short (to 7 miles), and I’m still running around 26 miles per week rather than my planned 30+ by now), but I find the more consistently I run the more I want to go out rather than fighting against it until I actually go (and then enjoying it, of course). So I think I’ve (maybe?) turned a corner. I know the key is to go regularly, do a short run if the planned one is a problem, and get back into the habit of going in the morning.  I may have said all this last week, however. Hmm.

One thing I’ve been doing over the past couple of weeks is dedicating myself to mediating (with the help of the Calm app) every morning, partially inspired by another blogger and her reported experiences. I started with the 7 Days of Calm free trial and liked that enough to buy a subscription and start with the 21 day program (there are a variety of other programs too that look good). I suspected that meditating would help me–I’ve experimented with Centering Prayer from time to time, though never developed a consistent practice, and to some extent it isn’t that different. What I was surprised about is how on the nose the things the app talks about are for my own struggles, especially lately. It’s also helping me use breathing more in other activities, like pilates (I do need to get back to doing some yoga, especially as I continue to increase running miles).

Anyway, maybe doing the app or maybe just some other things in my life made me more conscious of this, but I realized during a run how much running itself has a meditative effect for me. I’d noticed before that if I was struggling with a writing problem or just thinking through things at work that running would often have a creative effect–I’d solve the problem or make a breakthrough. This time, I also realized that it plays an important role in me dealing with negative or troubling thoughts–rather than distracting myself from them (memories, anger, whatever) or repressing them (something I am far too good at) or overreacting to them emotionally, I find that I have thoughts float through my head when running and then float away and the emotional charge is gone, or lessened, if that makes sense.  Not unlike “sitting with your emotions” which has always been tough for me, but more enjoyable and ending (usually) with that happy positive mood that follows running. Not the same as mediation, of course, although sometimes I do just focus on my gait or breathing or looking around and being in the moment, but I think the overall effect on my psyche is related. This certainly helps explain why I feel so much better in general, even apart from the fitness, when running regularly.

So yet more reason to keep up the consistency!

This weekend is my last long run before the half marathon I have scheduled the following weekend. I am not as ready for that race as I had hoped to be, but the plan was always to treat it as a training run so I am not going to worry about it and will enjoy it. I’m certainly in better shape than I was when I did Seattle last November anyway.

When I started writing this I thought I was going to talk about podcasts I like to listen to when running–I discovered a couple of new ones this week–but like the new trail, that’s something else to keep for next week.

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