First Outdoor Run in a While (a.k.a. The Reminder I Needed of Why I Fell in Love Fitness)

Every once in a while, something outside of my control forces me to shake up my weekly routine a little bit. Late last week, my gym was closed for building power upgrades on Thursday night … meaning no Spinning class for me to teach that evening. Luckily, the weather outside was nice, so I decided to do something I haven’t done in a while, and run outside.

The area in which I live is very pedestrian-friendly (being on the more urban side), and designed in such a way that it’s pretty easy to just take a big loop and end up back where you started. So I suited up, put on the one pair of pants that could hold both my apartment key and my mp3 player (I know, city running with music in my ears is probably not the best decision … but I kept it low enough to be aware of my surroundings), and set out on my way.

It actually ended up being a great run. I wore my heart rate monitor to make sure I was pushing myself as hard as I should be, but other than that, it was really nice to be able to just run, rather than being so focused on how much time was left on the treadmill, or how fast I was going, or what I needed to do to get to X number of miles by X time. It was just me, the road, and my body telling me when I needed to speed up or slow down, or when I’d done enough (okay, that’s not totally true … once I was about an hour in, I started playing that mental “once I get to …” game that always ends up turning into something more once I get to the initial “once I get to”). I ran for 75 minutes, and predicted I’d probably run somewhere close to 8 miles – which, yes, being me, I plugged into MapMyRun.com this morning, and found that the route I run was, in fact, just over 8 miles.

While I likely ran a slightly slower pace than I typically do, I’m also taking into account the fact that I had to tackle a few hills, and at times I allowed myself to just get lost in my breathing or take in my surroundings (fun fact: there is a bridge/park in my neighborhood a little farther north than I have ventured before. I did not know it existed. But once I was both a little freaked out and enthralled at the same when I realized exactly how close to the ground the planes landing at Reagan get? I realized that clearly I need to make a point to actually explore my own neighborhood. Because it was pretty cool).

I guess the biggest discovery I made that day was more of a reminder than anything else. You could almost say it brought me back to what made me love to run in the beginning … and how it became my “gateway drug” to the world of fitness.  It’s hard to admit, but I’ve been a little burnt out lately. I have been feeling like I’m going through the motions, and those motions weren’t quite giving me the same joy that they had for so long. The fact is, it wasn’t always about how fast I was running, or how many miles I was covering, or how heavy I was lifting, or how many heavy hills I could cram into a Spinning class. In the beginning, it was about feeling good. Being one with nature – and my own thoughts. Feeling the breeze on my skin, and the fresh air in my lungs. What could you say I learned (again) that day? That the rush doesn’t have to always come from, well … the rush. There’s a lot to say for just letting your body tell you how it feels, and letting that drive you, rather than the external forces. We spend so much of our days in the go-go-go of today’s society … every once in a while, we have to let our workouts slow down a little, turn off our thoughts, and just be.