On Sunday, I did a 15.8k slog through the Don Valley Trail. I felt great, but when you’re running for that long, your mind will wander to weird places. That run, I thought about all the little things I have come to appreciate about running.
When I first started running, I didn’t enjoy it. I approached it as a challenge. I’ve always been a goal oriented person, stating “I want to accomplish X” (X being getting into grad school, writing a book, attempting veganism) and then developing a plan to make X happen. This time last year, it was a half-marathon. I ran that half-marathon. Then another one. I kept running. The running-related X became blurry. I need to get my eyes checked.
(Really, I do. I was in a meeting on Monday and was all “What’s that?!” when I saw a fuzzy red dot on a mock-up for a website thing. It was the CBC logo. The very place I work. The logo that’s on my ID badge and the website I stare at every single day. I’m a moron. A blind moron.)
These days, my attitude towards running is complicated. I’d rather run than not run, but I still feel I haven’t fallen far down the rabbit hole enough to call myself a “runner.” I need races to motivate, schedules to follow, and this blog to guilt me into it. But in the past year, so many things have become essential to my runs.
1) My ponytail
This is a weird one, I know. But I’ve come to love feeling the swish and bounce of my ponytail as I settle into my stride. Ponytails at the gym, during yoga and playing basketball are hazardous. But on a solo run, there’s nothing stopping it from flying free. It’s not going to get in my eyes, caught on a machine or pulled by an opponent. (All these things have happened.) I love that about running.
2) Pink stuff
I read somewhere (Cosmo, I think. Don’t judge!) that there’s absolutely no reason the little things in your life — your cell phone case, your toothbrush, your iPod, your make-up case — can’t be your favourite colour. I completely and totally agree, and rapidly began acquiring more much pink stuff than any twenty-something should own. It’s bordeline embarrassing. But on my run on Sunday, I had a pink headband, a pink hair elastic, pink gloves, a pink water bottle holder, pink socks, a pink iPod and a pink windbreaker and it made me happy. Cosmo knew what they were talking about. (Yes, that’s why this website is pink. Pink is the best!)
3) Top 40 music
The only time I listen to Top 40 is when I run. It’s peppy, it’s light, it’s fun to move to. The iPod I got for Christmas (thanks Matt!) has a radio app and Virgin Radio and Chum FM are the best running buddies you could ask for. When you’re feeling down or sore or tired, a song like “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson will come on the radio and the world will be well again.
Kelly’s right, you know. What doesn’t kill you really make you stronger.
4) Seeing random wildlife
At home in Nova Scotia, it was totally normal to see a bear coming out of your garage or end up late for school because a family of deer was hanging out on the only road from your house to town and blocking all the traffic. We wore bright orange hunting gear when playing outside for safety reasons. (True story.) Toronto has wildlife, true, but my interaction with nature is very different in the city than it is in the country. At home, it fully consumes you. Here, it’s fragmented and unexpected. Which is why whenever I see a deer or a rabbit or a trumpeter swan (there was a pair on the Don River on my long run!), it makes me happy. Really happy.
5) The runners’ hello
I like running solo, true. But nothing can power me through a few more kilometres — especially on those crappy days — than a fellow crazy comrade slogging through the rain or snow or sub zero temperatures. That little head nod, hello or smile means the world to me. I never expected it to. When I read about it for the first time, I thought it was weird. Now, I yearn for it when I see another runner coming my way. It shows I’m not alone and all someone else gets all this running. I get sad when it doesn’t happen. So if you see another runner — especially on a day when normal people aren’t going outside — give a little wave. It might be me.
There are other things, I’m sure. But five is a nice number. And I’m sleepy.
What little things make your workouts better?
The run: 15.8k in 2:01:17