Since the new year, rather than trying to run further, I’ve been trying to shift my slow jog into a slightly less slow jog, and run 5k in under 30 minutes.
It started out as fun, this competition with myself. A few times I missed by a matter of seconds, so I pushed myself harder the next time. Eventually, I did it, and I was proud of myself.
I started to plan the next goals. Maybe I could do a 5k in less than 25 minutes? And then, in a few years, less than 20.
But then a funny thing happened. I stopped wanting to run.
Today, I gave myself permission to run only as fast as my body wanted to. It meant that I ran a slower pace than I had done in months. But when I finished, it felt incredible. It reminded me why I run.
I run to get myself moving in the morning. I run to clear my head before work. I enjoy being outside before everyone is awake, and watching the light change over the river.
I run because it forces me to be in the moment. For once, I’m not rushing on towards the next thing. I’m just putting one foot in front of the other until I can’t anymore.
Running without an end goal means I enjoy the process more. It’s relaxing. For me, it’s what running needs to be.
I have goals in my day job. I have things that I need to do for my degree. I have deadlines for my writing, and planned end products for my crafting. I’m a clumsy and forgetful enough person that I need lists, and rules, and objectives, for almost everything in my life.
But I don’t need that for running. Running can just be fun.
Every conversation I have about running is about measurement and goals. What was your time? How far did you go? How often do you train?
I wonder what would happen if I didn’t have an answer to those questions. If I ran for only me, and for how it makes me feel.