There are many things I like about running, and probably one of its biggest attributes — one of the things that has kept me coming back for more, day after day, month after month, year after year — is its versatility. You don’t necessarily have to have a race on the calendar to run, nor do you necessarily have to be “training” for some sort of timed event, like a time trial, to commit to the sport. Sure, sometimes having these
obligations commitments opportunities on our calendars can nudge us out the door when it’s inconvenient to go for a run — when we’d rather be sleeping or being lazy or staying away from shitty weather, for example — but at the end of the day, I think one of the best things about running is that if you run, if you put one foot in front of the other and, generally speaking, propel yourself in a forward motion, you’re a runner. You don’t need to run a timed race (or hell, a watch or running clothes, or running shoes, or running *anything*) to make it as part of your identity. You can run for the hell of it, and that’s a-okay.
Of course, if you like to write about your running, as I do, and you’re *not* actively in training mode, it can make for some pretty long absences in your blog … or some dull reading of the stuff that you do write (and publish). o_0
The pregnancy is moving right along, and as of now, I’ve got just two races left on my calendar before my August due date — ZOOMA’s Napa Valley half marathon in late June, when I’ll be about 31+ weeks, and the 5k during The San Francisco Marathon’s weekend in late July, when I’ll be 36+ weeks (!), though obviously both will be races in name only and not in, uh, reality, I guess. At this stage in my life, I can say that I’ve run two marathons, a 50k, and 2 5ks pregnant, but never that late in the game, so we’ll see how it all shakes out over the final trimester. It should be fun … “should” being the operative word here. 🙂 Time will tell.
I’ve written it before, earlier in this pregnancy, but I cannot thank my lucky stars enough that I have been feeling sufficiently healthy and strong and well enough, more often than not, to be able to continue to run through my pregnancy. I’m not breaking any records, my volume is maaaaaybe a third of what it usually is, I haven’t done a legit speed workout in forever, but despite all of this, I seriously cannot express how stupid happy-excited-elated I am at the end of nearly every.single.run I can post while pregnant. Seriously. I’m usually pretty happy after a run, but these days, it doesn’t matter if I go run 3, 5, 12 miles, whatever, because by the time I finish, I am so stupid-giddy about it that I feel like I’m doing all of this stuff for the first time again.
It’s endlessly amusing.
Most of the time, pregnant or not, I don’t look at my watch while I run and instead go exclusively on feel (and by terrain — I’m a fan of working with gravity and can’t recommend it enough), and even on the days where the run is initially uncomfortable because Kiddo Dos is seemingly straight chillin’ entirely on my right side (ahem, today, hi in there! I feel you!), I’m still so happy to be out there, doing what I love, that I’m sure that the shiteating-grin on my face only distracts passersby momentarily from my ever-growing midsection that, uh, attractively, more often than not, is hanging out between the tops of my shorts and the bottom of my top because I refuse to buy running clothes that I’ll only wear when I’m pregnant.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I already look like a tank (ah, the joys of subsequent pregnancies and getting huger earlier), and I’m to the point in my pregnancy where my belly actually gets in the way when I try to bend over to pick things up off the floor … as well as the point when random strangers on the street either look at me like I’m crazy when they see me running [PSA: don’t be that person] or, conversely, offer me some solid fistbumps and congratulatory shouts [PSA: be that person] … but dammit if you don’t see me running without a smile on my face because I *get* to do this stuff, still.
All these pregnant miles, these “running just for the hell of it” miles have been so good to me and for me and so mentally refreshing that I would falter more than I would be able to adequately convey my appreciation of them. I’m fortunate to not have much of an injury history, but I imagine that pregnancy miles are kinda like the coming-back-from-injury miles, when you’re just so happy to be out there that you really don’t give a damn about your pace or distance or any other metric that you’d usually obsess over. If you want to run .5 mile, 1 mile, 5 miles, 10 miles, whatever, and you feel well, you do; so it is with pregnancy running.
Each day is a new adventure, each mile some potential new opportunity, and being able to partake in new adventures and opportunities each week — regardless if it’s twice a week, seven times in a week, significantly slower or just about the same pace as my non-pregnant running — it all just effing rules. Scratch that; it’s fucking fantastic, my friends.
I don’t coach, and I try not to be too didactic with the stuff that I write on here, but I will say this — I cannot recommend having some periods of “for the hell of it” miles in your running career. I won’t prescribe if it should be every year, so many times in a given month, between seasons — all that stuff you can decide for yourself — but I will say that having this period in my running career at least twice now, during both of my pregnancies, has been deeply gratifying, refreshing and just plain fun.
It’s easy to get into nothing but grind mode and hammer-hammer-hammer every single run, every single week, and usually, that’s how I roll, too, but sometimes, slowing down, running less frequently, maybe running fewer miles, can be good for the soul. This is a concept that might sound sacrilege, and I get it — I have thought this way before, too — but truly. Consider it.
If nothing else, I imagine that it’ll give you a good reminder of why and how you became enamored with this sport in the first place and why you keep returning, running back, for more.