Saturday, December 13, 2008

Taming the brain

Sooner or later it happens. Something clicks. The brain checks out and movement becomes automatic. Stopping is no longer on the mind, because you don't even realize you are moving. 

When I'm on my game, I don't run because a schedule says to or even because I find it enjoyable. I run because my body craves it. In that moment, not running isn't an option.

I found that moment again today. I'll admit I hadn't pulled on my shoes since the disastrous Turkey Trot 5k. I've walked. I've done yoga. I've lifted weights. No running. I knew I wasn't quitting -- I could never allow myself to do that... but I just couldn't face the street. It mocked me. But I knew today was the day. A weekend with daylight hours would be the perfect time to force myself to get over whatever monster was attacking and run through the grossness. 

I would do a light afternoon run and get it over with. 

The only problem? I didn't make it till then. I woke up early, as always and began watching "Bella" -- my latest netflix rental. Halfway through my brain started cranking, and I couldn't sit still. My head wanted to run. It assured me it would not be silent until I had a date with the road. So I dug out my almost-tights and my Penguin shirt. Found a pair of matching socks and pulled on my faithful runners. Grabbed Garmin and headed out the door. 

It was a short run -- 20 minutes. I didn't set any speed records, but I didn't have any desire to stop -- and my calves weren't screaming at me. For the first time in a long time, I didn't run out of obligation but out of desperate need. And I remembered. Running isn't about feeling good, it's about not feeling. It's about letting my brain work out all its craziness and coming to a place where all I'm thinking about is the pattern of my breathing, the sound of shoes on pavement. 

Somewhere in the race for distance and the longing for quicker miles, I left that behind. I still want to run marathons, but more than that -- I want to remember what it feels like to crave each and every run. To miss running on my crosstraining days. Maybe that is what the occasional easy 20 minutes are for. Not every run needs to be long or fast. They can sometimes be short and slow. 

I think I'm back in the game.