Finding My Joy on the Trails

The longest run I’ve done since the marathon was the Biltmore Kiwanis 15k. I’ve struggled with IT Band issues a few weeks after the marathon and just had to take it easy. At the same time last year I was already training for the Asheville Half Marathon. At this point I yet have to sign up for the race, let alone train for it.

Once I started feeling better, I decided to follow the Runner’s World Running Streak challenge. The goal was to run at least a mile daily until July 4th. Well let’s be honest, I’m out. I did not run yesterday because I just felt too tired and just wanted to chill. Even one mile did not appeal to me. But that challenge was enough in the first two weeks to give me back some good training free running joy. I ran every day with a minimum goal of a mile, not caring how far I would go. Getting to run daily also allowed me to take some slower days where I could follow my husband at a slower pace instead of torturing him at mine.

This resulted in some beautiful trail runs that we shared together. One of those was an easy 2ish miles run right in the Craggy Gardens area. Another one at Graveyard Field which I’ll need to share with more details.

While I love training for a race, there is something so incredibly satisfying in running just for fun, on trails, with my husband. To share the love of the outdoors together is something I look forward to do more in the coming months. Last week I was running with a grin glued to my face the entire time. The freedom of the trail, of not having to plan for a specific length, to just go for fun, stop if we feel like it, run like rabbits and jump in cold water at the end. This is why I run, for that feeling, not for a medal at the end, but for the moments shared and experienced.

PS: I am looking forward to doing a few longer runs again, now that my legs feel back to normal.

 

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Perspective

When I heard about other runners fulfilling their 20+ miles I was impressed. It seemed like the ultimate challenge before the marathon. Then I did it myself. It wasn’t easy. I walked at times. I had to catch my breath, stay focused, fuel. But I made it through.

Each time I ran a loop, did a few twist and turns. So even with the big 2.0 attached to my run it didn’t look that long on the map. Maybe it’s because I grew up with kilometers? But even 35km didn’t really mean anything to me. That is until I put it on a map. I first used one in France, from my Mom’s.

And that’s when I was like “Holy Cow! That’s a long way!”. I know how long it takes to drive it (about 30mns), I know how much the landscape changes going from the low elevations to the heart of the Pyrenees. I can run that far?

Then for the fun of it, I also did it here in the US. Starting from West Asheville.It looks like I ran run almost from home, past the airport and all the way to the next big town, aka Hendersonville. To which my husband said: “Well yeah, it’s 15 miles to my work”.

Putting my long runs in perspective really made me realize how much I had achieved. I never thought my legs would be able to carry me this far. I’ve had people telling me recently how good I will feel about myself when I finish the marathon. To be honest with you, yes I will feel so proud of myself. But I also already do. I think it doesn’t matter if one finishes a marathon at this point. To be able to train for it, especially when you think about the fact that there are no crowds to cheer you up during training, no water stations and only a handful of other runners if you’re lucky. So while I do plan to finish, I think that it goes beyond that. I am proud of the journey.

Living Up to Our Parents

My Dad and I skiing in the Pyrenees this winter.

I think it’s hard, not to say impossible, not to want to live up to the example set by our parents. Well it is with mine at least. While they’ve made mistakes, I still have high respect for a lot of things they did and do. Especially my Dad when it comes to the outdoors.

There are little sports that my Dad has not done outdoors. He is a mountain guide (not a mountaineering one, that’s different). Growing up he took us hiking, skiing, randonnée skiing, spelunking, canyoning, paragliding, snow-shoeing, climbing, sailing, you name it. As a child I loved it. As a teenager I rebelled and sat on my butt. I was done doing things every single freaking week-end.

But then I grew up a little more and hopefully got a little wiser. You can’t take a mountain girls out of the slopes.  I fell back in love with hiking in the mountains. I do feel that it also has a lot to do with how my husband and I met and fell in love. The only reason I didn’t run away from him when I met him (we were being set up and I knew it) is because we shared a love of the mountains and had something to talk about.

Then two years ago I got hooked on running and never looked back. Weirdly enough it is not a sport I ever practiced with my Dad. I did in school up to 20mns bu that was that. Running was my thing.

Last week I got an email from my dad. It said

Incredible that you’re already ready for marathon! I always dreamed to run one… but never found the time to prepare and always feared for my knees…

It might sound silly to you, but I smiled and felt so incredibly proud of myself. I put myself in a place where my Dad wanting to be, but never was and may never be. Little me  should achieve something my outdoors crazy father did not. Not only that, but I did it following my own path. With no pressure from my Dad. I didn’t even know until that email that he had an interest in marathon running.

I am not my Dad, I will not achieve what he did. But I am me, I follow my own path and will achieve great things when I put my heart, mind and body into it. Those two little lines made me feel proud.

My Body Isn’t Meant for Running They Say

When I talk running with non runners they are usually in awe as I give my current weekly mileage or latest long run. I would lie if I said it didn’t flatter my ego. Sure it feels good to hear that, but as I always say I’m by no mean the fastest runner, nor the longest distant runner. I train for it. I practice adding the miles, training my body, fueling. I make goals and strategies to get there.

But those talks often lead to an other common sentence: “My body isn’t meant to run”. Really? That’s your excuse?
I’m sorry but I’ve had to take lessons not to drawn in water, I had to take lessons and buy gear to ski down the slopes. But running? Running is primal. You learn to crawl, then walk, then run. Not by being taught lessons but just because it’s right. Instinct.

I’m not basing this on any research mind you. But running seems like a primal thing to me. You need to run to escape danger, to catch a prey, to protect a loved one. We run as kids, after a ball, to a tree, just for fun, because it feels good. It’s not because you grow a few feet or inches that your body changes that much.

So no, I don’t believe you when you tell me that your body isn’t meant to run. Sure it is. One foot in front of the other and pick up the pace. Now you may never be able to run farther than half a mile, you might never break a 5 minute mile (I doubt I will), but you can run. Anyone can run.

People think they have to achieve amazing speeds or distances to be runners. Nope. Just tie your laces, put on your Fivefingers or just go barefoot. What matters in running is to put one foot in front of the other and keep going until you’re done. When I read through the Complete Book of Women’s Running it’s one of the things I came across. Being a runner is not defined by speed, mileage, nor even by how many times a week you run. No, being a runner is defined by your head. If you feel like one, if you find joy in it, sorry to say but that makes you a runner.