For the Love of the Run

A friend of mine recently decided to start running again. She bought running shoes and some new technical clothes and she was ready to go. She started two weeks ago and has run about four times.009 This week she confided that she is sad that she doesn’t love running the way other people do and it occurred to me that I profess my love of running everyday to anybody who will listen. Even on days when my run has been horrible, when my legs hurt, I chafe, or I was winded too soon, I love running.

For me, running is a quest to find the perfect run. The perfect run does not come every day or even every week. It might be a month between perfect runs but there is always the promise of one. And I believe that a bad run just increases my chance of having the perfect run next time.

There is no way to know when it will come. It could be on a morning when I wake up early with an overwhelming desire to head out the door or it might come on a day when my head is throbbing or I slept poorly the night before. It might be a perfect 60 degrees and sunny or it might be 98 degrees and raining cats and dogs.

During a perfect run, I feel like I am eight years old again. I run without thinking about the rhythm of my breath or the length of my stride. I run without thinking at all. Often I am running far too fast for my planned workout but in a perfect run, it doesn’t matter, because I am Wonder Woman. I am unstoppable.

So, hoping for the run that will have me walking on air for the rest of the day, I lace up my shoes and head out the door. In my quest for perfection, I deal with the bad runs because I know the perfect one will come and because, like the pain of child birth, the pain of a bad run will disappear. I might look back and complain about the heat or the niggle in my leg but I won’t remember exactly how excruciatingly difficult it was. And I certainly won’t talk about that part with others.

As a runner, I feel an obligation to bring others over to the sport, to guide them into a running lifestyle and telling them about the pain is not going to get them there. The love of the sport, the high I get on the perfect run, these are things I can share. These are the selling points.

I feel guilty for not talking about the difficult runs with my friend before she started. I feel a little dishonest, but then, I think, that it is in the pushing past the hard part, continuing despite the pain that we become true runners. I could have shared all of my experiences with her, but it wouldn’t have helped. Running is a journey with bad runs and good runs and ultimately, if you stick with it, perfect runs. And it is through this journey that my friend will find the love of the run.

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About Ann Brennan

Ann Brennan is first and foremost a mom of three beautiful children. She is the managing editor of Beyond Limits Magazine and the creator of Ann’s Running Commentary. In 2012, Ann took Ann’s Running Commentary to new levels – first with a segment on the RunRunLive Podcast, chronicling her journey to her first Ironman and second, with a new channel on YouTube. Currently Ann is working on a non-fiction book series and working hard every day to remind people to get up, get active and get out there.
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17 Responses to For the Love of the Run

  1. Hanlie says:

    I am trying to recapture that love of walking (I’m not ready to run yet)… I guess I just have to keep doing it until the love returns!

  2. Jennifer Z says:

    What a great, great post! You totally summarized what we all strive for – that perfect run. I laugh b/c running and golf are similar to me (or rather going to the driving range). You can have 30 bad shots and then hit just 1 shot perfectly in that sweet spot and that 1 shot is what keeps you coming back for more. It’s that 1 great run that keeps you pushing and striving through the sweat and the tears. Nicely stated.

  3. Denis says:

    You hit on a few big ideas:
    Perfect runs- what a feeling!
    Bad runs- experienced runners can keep these in perspective, but inexperienced runners can be totally turned off by these.
    Our desire to recruit others- so far this year alone I’ve gotten 7 people in my ER to start running. Some of them have turned into regular racers. Others probably never will. Which brings me to a difficult question.
    Should we resign ourselves to the notion that despite our infectitous enthuiasm, supportive encouragement, and tales of the perfect run, some people will just never get it. I hope I’m wrong, cuz I want EVERYBODY to get it.
    Great post.

  4. Ann Brennan says:

    That is what my daughter said about soccer as well. The one great shot makes all the work worth it.

  5. Ann Brennan says:

    When we moved to England we moved to an area that was great for running but none of the other moms ran. When we left one of my friends had started marathoning and several more were running and loving it. When that happens it warms my little heart.

  6. Ann Brennan says:

    I think it applies to a lot of things though. I find the same thing with swimming, Jen said she notices it with golf and my daughter said the same thing about soccer. You just have to keep going and the love will come.

  7. You know at times I compare running and training to childbirth and I certainly do not tell first time moms how painful it can be at times! I think it’s the same with running. :)

  8. Ann Brennan says:

    That is a great point. I had not thought of it like that.

  9. Alex Kaine says:

    Great article, I had a tough run today (trying to work through an quad strain) and you reminded me of the good times and that they will come again.

    PS: Doesn’t ending a run with Annapolis crab dip automatically make it perfect.

  10. Ann Brennan says:

    You might think that would be the case, but alas, no. I still have bad runs every now and then. Hope the quad gets better. I am nursing an injury right now too. Good luck on getting that perfect run.

  11. Aaaah, beautifully written Ann. Those perfect, great to be alive runs (that so often come when we have no reason to expect them) are one of the best feelings in the world.

  12. Paula Kiger says:

    YES! I agree!! When I was at intervals Tuesday night, a 9 year old 4th grade girl showed up. She had never run around a track, just some runs around the field at school. BUT, unlike me who spends the whole day of intervals sort of worked up about it and how I am inevitably the slowest, can’t run a 400 in under 2 minutes, etc etc etc, this kid went out and just ran. She actually said, “this is so much fun” and left ready to sign up for some 5K’s and etc. What a great spirit. She may not have had the “perfect” run that night but I feel pretty sure she has some in her future!

  13. Paula says:

    Love this article. It is but one reason that I coach all scopes of new and experienced runners!!! Thanks Ann for another fantastic article!!!

  14. Ara says:

    LOVE this post. This post reminded me of when I finally loved running. It takes a while. And like you said, you’re not going to love every single run, but you still love the actual sport. Does that make sense?

  15. Pingback: Good Post | Distance Trainers

  16. steena says:

    What a great post..I feel like I haven’t had a good run since last fall, yet I keep lacing up, and hoping that I’m due for the next good one! Maybe tomorrow :)

  17. MichelleO says:

    Great article! I have struggled with running for the past 5 years now. I have never gotten to that “I love it” stage. I keep coming back to running because it would be the perfect sport for me timewise. I started the running workshop with Spark Running here is SP and hope that running with others will help me get to that “love it” stage or at least put bad days in perspective.

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