The sun had just come up, but it was already in the high 70's and humid. I was down in Florida for a cross country camp and was running along the same length of road we campers had worn out over the past several days. We were grinding through a long and tough tempo workout; one of those workouts that just must be endured. The pounding of our feet and our huffing and puffing served as the only communication to let us know we were all still together. At about the point the strain and monotony threatened to break us apart, Mother Nature decided to open up on us with one of those sunny showers. It was pouring, but still sunny, when someone bellowed, "That's it! Enough of this [insert whatever colorful adjective you think a high school boy would blurt out during a hard workout]! We are in Florida running along the ocean. Let's find the fun again, guys." In that one quick moment our entire outlook and attitude changed. We were in tremendous shape, clipping through the miles like never before. The rain wasn't depressing, it was that cooling without being cold. Up ahead was the bridge over the bay that signified we had only a couple more miles to go. This was no death march. It was our opportunity to enjoy having the ability to test ourselves with great friends in a beautiful locale on a gorgeous day. We dropped the hammer and ratcheted up the pace to speeds we would not have dreamed of only a mile or so before. We were splashing in puddles, yanking tree branches to douse those running behind us; basically just having a blast running at breakneck speed. I can still remember how badly my lungs and legs burned and wondering in an almost detached way whether my heart could handle the load. As we approached our condos, we hardly broke stride as we turned in the driveway and dashed for the beach and into the ocean/finish line.
That was one of my favorite runs ever. It wasn't because I completed the workout that my training calendar called for. It wasn't because I ran at an awesome pace. It wasn't even because I was in a tropical locale. It was because it was fun. We all come to running for different reasons. The most common reason people stop running is because they stop having fun doing it. We all have those runs that we look back on and smile; the one's that make all the training worth it. We miss out on a lot of those runs because we look at our runs as endeavors that must be completed, rather than opportunities to enjoy something that makes us better people. We become a slave to what the Garmin or the training schedule says. With so many of us having just completed their fall goal race, now is the time to find the fun again. Here are some quick, simple steps to help you recharge the batteries, keep up the training, and make each run more enjoyable.
- Freestyle - Go out there and trail blaze. There are an infinite number of places and courses you can run. Now is a great time to check out some new ones. We tend to become creatures of habit. Diversify your portfolio of routes.
- Run by Feel - Leave the Garmin at home and run for minutes. GPS devices are excellent training tools, but can also lead us to become slaves to their data. Listen to what your body is telling you and adjust your run accordingly. If you are feeling blah, take it easy and let your body recover. If you are full of run, then let the legs go and be fast and fresh.
- Park It - This is an awesome time to check out some of the amazing parks our area has to offer. FLEET FEET's new Trail Running program is designed for just the sort of "back to nature" running that can be so rejuvenating.
- Find a friend - Social hour with a buddy can help the training time fly by. Get a group together and you'll be amazed at how much more enjoyable a 5-miler can become. Looking for some running friends? Check out any one of our Social Runs.
- Cross It Up - Switch your training up with some cross training. This is a great time to take a step back and replace a day of running with a day of cross training. Doing so will help make you stronger and prepare you to start the next training season ready to put yourself on track for new PRs. The FLEET FEET Training Center is centered on you and your running. Enjoy a class today.
No matter what your goals are, or how you came to running, the best way to get the most out of the experience is to find the fun in it. Try some of these quick and easy adjustments to your training and watch your enjoyment grow.
Good luck and happy racing!