For as long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed writing. More often than not, writing helps me process things and helps me move beyond minutiae, forcing me to think big picture, to identify problematic or encouraging trends, and in general, to just give me a sense of perspective that can otherwise be drowned out by incessantly thinking in the here-and-now, micro-level shit that I am wont to do.
In these regards, whether officially or not, I think writing has helped me tremendously as a runner. Since 2007, I’ve kept some iteration of a training log–either something handwritten or, more recently, something (or somethingS) digital–and as is to be expected, seeing recaps of my runs laid out before me gives me a sense of perspective that I’d otherwise lose. If I have a week of bad runs, but three weeks of great runs, without my little written artifacts, I’m probably going to remember the shittier stuff more than the good: crappy but true. Fortunately, my written records rectify (hello, consonance!) this.
With my pregnancy, as I’ve written before, I’m basically running without expectations, and it’s as liberating as you’d expect it to be. I no longer have hard-and-fast weekly mileage or speed goals, though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still have some very, very, very soft goals that I somewhat try to hit each week. Even with this current state of expectations-free running, though, or rather, perhaps because of it, I’m finding that the runs that I get to post, the ones that surprise me for some reason or another, just floor me beyond belief, and all I want to do is bottle them for future revisiting.
Making an active attempt to bottle my runs–basically, to force myself to remember how great I felt or how strong I felt or what my leg turnover felt like or whatever, during whatever week or stage of pregnancy I’m in–I think will help me in the long term, especially as I’m rebuilding strength and speed postpartum. Bottling runs is like my way of having this ongoing mental (or written) conversation with myself wherein I remind myself how good/strong/fast/whatever I felt right now so that I have a reference point for the future.
I think this notion of bottling runs is a compelling connection between all runners, regardless if you’ve been doing this stuff for a long time, if you’re just starting out, or if you’re revisiting running after a prolonged absence. For those of us who have been here before, sometimes we continue to run because we always carry with us the flood of positive memories from earlier runs, from runs where our paces and strides felt effortless, where our attacking ascents and descents on beautiful and crazy-ass trails felt like second nature, or where we finished an incredibly intense workout feeling like a million bucks and fully expecting Olympic t&f coaches to be banging down our doors to enlist us on next year’s team (what, you don’t envision yourself running in the Olympics?? your pants are ablaze!). For newer runners–and we’ve all been there–I think many of us want to have those types of experiences I just described; we want to feel as effortless or fast or strong or whatever as possible because we know in our heart of hearts that if our friends (or family members, or whoever inspired us to get out there and try this running stuff in the first place), that if these people can do it, then we sure as hell can, too. We just have to convince ourselves of it and work our ass off to get there.
I’d argue that this somewhat revisionist history that we, or at least I, seem to have with running more often than not works in our favor. It gets us out there day after day, it brings us back after time away, and like journaling our daily runs and workouts, it gives us a sense of perspective that teaches us that lots of things are possible, should we choose to believe it and think more long-term than immediate gratification in our running.
Realistically, I know that pregnancy will eventually (and dramatically) alter my running more than it already has, and so far, I feel pretty at peace with that. If anything, it’s making bottling the good stuff that much more important to me these days. 🙂