Running: The Heart of the Matter

I’ve been running for a lot of years.  Miles and miles of training that started on the trails and pathways of Calgary, took me to the flat and fast training that the city of Regina had to offer and more recently, the River Valley trail system of Edmonton where I have the pleasure of running with this incredible crew of athletes that is River City Runners. 

Some might all me a seasoned veteran; I’ve run 13 marathons and more half marathons than I care to count.  I’ve trained half marathoners, run side by side (quite literally) with runners training for Boston marathon #goalcrushes and have run with beginner and advanced runners alike.  I’ve raced in Boston, Chicago, New York City, Washington DC (through a little storm called Hurricane Sandy), Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay and too many others to list.  Through this journey, I’ve learned a lot about running: the art of training, the science of nutrition, the mental toughness required to execute a race plan and what it takes to keep my body in peak condition to pound out some serious miles on the pavement week after week.

And then this year happened.  I found myself in uncharted running territory.  I sustained two major injuries that kept me from running and racing in the way that I was used to.  I questioned myself.   A lot.  I questioned whether or not I still loved running and what running was adding to my life.  I questioned why I was even running to begin with.  I’d lost the love for the sport that had once brought me so much joy, peace, clarity and abundance in my life.  I had set lofty goals for myself- a sub 3 marathon and a 1:25 half marathon and the training paces were not anywhere near where they needed to be to accomplish these goals.  I felt like shit.  I felt worthless.  I was tied to a result that was only measured by a time on a clock. 

And one sweaty summer Sunday run I remembered.

Marathon running, it's a science and an art. The science: the paces and distances and the pace over distance. The repeats and training plans and the way we use time and distance to measure progress. Nutrition, fuelling and hydration strategies...the when, the what and how much. The science. It's logic and it's important.  

And then the art; fuelled by passion, heart and feeling. When your step feels light and you push a little harder than the science dictates just because your soul feels free and your spirit believes you can. The moment on the path when just the right song catches your breath at just the right time and the rush of gratitude for the simple fact that you are alive pushes you longer, harder and faster when your mind is screaming for your legs to stop. The days when the mile repeats are challenging and your heart whispers gently that your worth as a human is not measured by any time on any clock.

For this entire season, I had lost my running why.  I tied my self worth to the times on the clock that weren't fast enough. I was so attached to the result that I had lost my love for the process. In essence, I was in my head and stuck in the science. It took one sweaty session on the Edmonton pavement, headphones in, sunshine on my face, wind in my hair to find my why again. I remembered the art that is marathon running. I ran because I wanted to and not because I had to. I looked at my watch and didn't tie my self worth to a time it did or didn't say. I let feeling and heart be my guide. I pushed when it felt good. And when I didn't, I just let it go. Heart. It always takes you exactly where you need to go.  I remembered. I run by heart. And to some, it might be crazy and illogical, but for me it's what works now and it's what's always worked. I'm sure there is some place in the middle of science and art where it all makes the most sense and maybe my work is to find just that. For now, I've made my way back into the heart of it and it's what feels good. I'll stay right here.

Peace, love and running, friends.