Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Running for Joy

Clearly, I enjoy running.  Anyone who has read what I've written about how much I run and how hard I've run couldn't possibly reach any other conclusion.  But there is a difference between enjoying my running and taking a joy in my running.

Some friends say I should "run strong".  Same focus on running fast.  Yesterday in a FB exchange several people (almost, or, in fact, all guys) focused on running at different ages.  One of my friends repeatedly reminds me to run for joy.

I do--but sometimes it isn't so obvious.  In addition to spending a lot of the last year focused on running with others, I have also spent the last year focusing on running for a goal--the time I need to qualify to register for the Boston marathon.  Yes, I would find joy in qualifying.  But I think my focus would honestly be more on the sense of accomplishment.  The past year has been a year of following specific workouts at specific times with specific goals.  Precision--yes.  Accomplishment--yes.  Even, fun--yes.  Joy--not so much.

The most recent Saturday run was an example, however, of running for joy.  Yes, the person I was running with and I both had our watches with us.  But we didn't look at them much.  We mostly looked at them as a reminder of how far we had gone.  And every once in a while to check how fast we ran a particular mile.  But we didn't spend our time dwelling on our watches.  And I think the joy showed as we greeted other runners.

I have to say that is much easier to do when running with someone.  When running alone, I feel I have little else to focus on.

Would I ever run without a watch?  Not so likely as my watch also tells m how far I have gone and then feeds into a computer program that gives me useful data.

Do I plan to focus on my watch a lot less (which would also mean letting go of tempo runs for a while--a fact in which I do take much joy) and running with people a lot more?  I hope so.

I think that focusing less on time--particularly for very long races--and focusing more on the running with others--either in conversation to share the stories of our lives or in quiet to listen for the voice of God--will allow me to run for joy once again.  Then, when it comes time to really focus on timing again at some time in the future, I'll be refreshed and ready to run for goals for a while.  A whole year of running mostly for goals and not so much for joy has left me a little imbalanced.  And, as with so many other things in life, I am seeking balance looking ahead.  

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