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Pittsburgh, from the North Shore

I was in Pittsburgh recently visiting some of my best friends and teammates from college. For the first time since maybe ever, I was truly excited to go on a run.

Normally, especially if I’m on vacation or visiting family or friends, my desire to run is overpowered by my fear of missing out. I want to be spending time doing the things you do on vacation. I want to be spending time with the people I don’t get to spend time with very often. On any other day, I just often had a hard time getting out the door, possibly just the dread of how boring or hard the run might be. I often used to carefully calculate what route I would take to make the run most interesting and least difficult, especially if I was running alone.

So, from the start, this was a very different run.

My plan was to just go out and run along the routes and past the landmarks I used to visit and run past so often in college. I often ran 60+ miles a week in college and I covered A LOT of ground in that city. My plan was also to ignore the heart rate (I’m currently doing low heart rate training, which can be quite dreadful) but also to run without any intent to get to any certain point in any certain amount of time. I had an idea I might want to run 5-7 miles, but no real plan.

Well, let me tell you, I honestly can’t remember having ever had fun on a run like I did that day. Sure, I’ve had good runs. I’ve experienced runners high and had runs that made me feel like I was on top of the world. I’ve had workouts and long runs that made me feel like a finely tuned machine, strong and lean. I’ve explored all of Pittsburgh and my hometown in NY through running and I’ve covered many miles of roads and trails. I’ve run countless hills that have new experiences on the other side that cannot be seen from the bottom (Pittsburgh has some steep hills!).

Since college, after going through a period of many vague but strong symptoms that forced me to stop running, I really began to question whether I ever would run again. Did I not like running anymore? Was I being lazy? Could I just not do it anymore?

I’ve changed a lot of things since then to manage my stress, anxiety, health, strength, nutrition, you name it. I am now cautiously and successfully getting back into running, with runs generally feeling a lot easier and more enjoyable than they have for a long time.

On this run in Pittsburgh though, as I ran through Station Square, along the river around Point State Park and past stadiums on the North Shore, I found myself smiling and almost skipping with joy. It was sunny and the temperature was perfectly cold. The entire distance was effortless. Breathing came easy and the legs moved smoothly. There were no aches and pains. I began to realize I have never enjoyed a run so much. The miles had never gone by so quickly.

As I reflect on it, I realize I had always run with a purpose. My runs were always with an intent to get faster or build mileage. I had a team to run for or a race to compete in. Often times, I was just running an assigned workout from a coach or from the training plan.

In this case, I didn’t need the run to give me anything in return. This run was just to see Pittsburgh and reminisce. No planned pace. No set miles. No getting faster or accomplishing anything but to transport myself around the city. It was pure joy.

I have always been successful with running. I have always put great effort into running. I have always been passionate about running.

Now I love running.

Soon, I will post an article about how our relationship with running can parallel our relationship with other aspects of life and how this relationship can affect our injury risk, health, and performance.

In the meantime, please share a story about your best run of 2019 and how you view your relationship with running!

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