I have written a lot about my lack of clear-cut goals for my running (at least if we’re talking about goals in the form of races or race times). I sometimes waver on that a little bit; I was disappointed when my name wasn’t drawn from the lottery for the New York City marathon, more disappointed than I’d anticipated. And as I watch my friends train their butts off for a 50-mile event this spring followed by a 100K in the summer, I feel a little pull in my heart towards the kind of relentless focus and commitment they bring to their training. If I were running an ultra, my coach would be making me do all the things she’s making them do, and I bet it would make me feel pretty powerful.
Then, I took the train into Boston to meet Coach MK for a 6:00 AM run (which for both of us counts as a late start) and we ran and talked for an hour. We barely quieted down as we chugged up Beacon Hill towards the end, and I didn’t realize until midway through that we’d been running faster than I’d normally run by myself and that I’d barely felt a thing. The time flew. We’re going to do it again tomorrow, but this time it’ll be snowing and we’ll be meeting at 5:00 and (we hope) keeping it up for a full two hours. I don’t know exactly how far we’ll go or whether the snow will force us to cut bait earlier than planned, and I don’t care.
This, I realize, is what I want. An opportunity arises - running with Coach MK two days in a row?? - and I just say YES without hesitation. I don’t stress about whether I’m fit enough to run with my coach, who in addition to being fit AF is also used to running at 5,000 feet, and I don’t even overthink what route we’ll take. In fact, this time I definitely under-thought it - the Greenway is only good for running on weekends when you don’t have to stop at every damn intersection! But did we care? We did not.
This is running at its best, for me. It is the thing that I don’t really even need to think about that hard because I just want to do it, so I do. At a time in my life when I feel somewhat less than free to prioritize myself over the needs of my family, particularly my three-year-old who still needs the kind of constant parenting that takes over one’s life, I spend most of my parenting chits on running because it is what I want to do. A long run with my coach tomorrow morning at 5 AM is my spa day.
This is what I want from running for the rest of my mobile life. I would give up every other part - races, personal bests, age group awards - just to be the happy runner that I finally am. I want to just choose this, every day, and I want it to be the choice it is now: not the thing I know I should do, just the thing I definitely want to do.