So I’m not going to lie. Waking up to a Twitter and Google Reader full of “National Run Day!” hoopla stung a bit.
Okay, it stung a lot.
Did you know it was National Run Day? It is. Happy holidays!
As someone who is a lover of every last holiday, including the random, probably-made-up days our country tends to promote, National Run Day is obviously right up my ally. Normally, I would celebrate with a double-digit morning run, in my favorite running outfit, and probably blog all about being in love with running after visiting the local running store to geek-out over miles and gels.
I take my holidays seriously people. And when you give me an “official” day to celebrate running, I will enthusiastically twirl a baton and wave at spectators at the running parade.
However, this year…my celebration plans aren’t exactly going to pan out as I would like.
Honestly, I could run today. My leg is definitely feeling better every day, and after 68 minutes and 7.5 miles of run/walking on Monday, my hopes are much higher for a quick comeback. I have been spacing out my runs with several days in between since I started back up, allowing any soreness or knee kinks to completely evaporate before trying again.
The thing about an IT band injury is that you’re not necessarily making things worse by running on them. Running doesn’t feel too great, that’s for sure, but it’s still do-able. Running with this injury essentially just elongates the healing process, because it tightens the band, therefore straining the knee, and even more icing and stretching is needed.
So, physically, I could run today. My soreness from Monday is nearly gone, there’s good-ish weather, and of course it’s National Run Day!
The question, then, this morning became…should I?
I absolutely hate the thought of being someone who doesn’t pay tribute to their favorite thing on a “national” day of recognition. As pretentious as it might sound, if there are people out there today logging miles that hardly run otherwise, surely I must be out there as well.
I’m a runner, I should be running today, that’s a given. And I can run! (kind of) So why not?
Essentially, I was thinking that it was a dishonor on my part to not run today. Yea yea yea, I know it’s a fake holiday and running any other day wouldn’t be any less fun or sweaty. But, I was still feeling pulled to run. Just to know I did it. Just to know that I am still a runner who can run whensoever she feels.
But then I got to thinking:
“Okay Robyn, is going out and gimping out a few—potentially painful—miles really going to prove you’re a real runner?”
(I don’t really think in third person, just go with it.)
Part of my brain said yes. It said, “Go on! Prove you’re getting back in the game. Prove that even without running for a month, you still have it in you.”
But prove what to who exactly? To running? Because I’m mad at running? Because I’m afraid of running and feel like I have to redeem myself worthy again?
This is when the other part of my brain started to infiltrate my thoughts. The part that is sensible, rational, and dare I say—smarter. She helped me realize that running for the sake of running today wasn’t going to actually help anything. It wasn’t going to send positive recovery vibes to the universe or “prove” to anyone or anything that I am still a runner.
No, all it could possibly do was set me back.
And all at once, my sense of reason took over, and I realized the truth.
If I love running so much, why would I want to run when I shouldn’t be?
If I want to “prove” my love for running, what I really should be doing is the sensible, careful thing…which would be allowing enough recovery, not pushing my limits, and slowly building back my strength. Running now (when I probably shouldn’t be, for no reason other than pride) would only prolong my ability to run in the future that much further.
And do I want that? No.
The best way for me, then, to celebrate National Run Day—a day where running should be given all the love it deserves—is to sit it out. My biggest downfall as a runner, as demonstrated in the Tacoma Marathon, is that I abuse the privilege of running. I can never get enough of it, and instead of treating running with TLC, I play roulette with it and my body—leading to collapses and injuries.
In that regard, I don’t need to “prove” anything in terms of my ability to get up and run. That’s not the hard part for me. The hard part is understanding that running is not something to be careless about, and in fact it needs the same kind of essentials as the rest of us—including some time to step back, lay out, and sip a summer brew.
(Go with my metaphor on this one.)
My point is that run love is not all about logging miles and miles, day after day. That’s a huge part of it, for sure, but run love also includes the times when we know we ought not to run. I know that if I truly want to prove how much I love to run today, I should let other people pound the pavement while I save my body for the time when it really can run again.
If I wanted to wind up in the same self-destructive mindset that led me to my downfall in the Tacoma Marathon, I would go run today. However, I want to be smarter, and I know that if I really want this sport to be in my life for a long time, I need to learn when to back off and be less selfish. Because running today would be the selfish thing to do, and in honor of my unconditional, pure love for running—in an act of selflessness, I’m going to start releasing the reigns.
With all that said, Happy National Run Day! Despite injuries, racing casualties, missing toenails, and an always full laundry hamper—I love this sport so incredibly much. As much as I might have whined in the past month, and as frustrated as I might get about being injured, I still ardently believe that even on the sidelines—nothing can teach us more about ourselves than running. And for that, I am thankful.
Whether you’re running or not today, I hope you show off your run love. Or, if you don’t run, go on and wave at someone who is. I can guarantee they are happy to be doing it…or at least they will be once it’s done
And mark my words, once fully healed, I will be celebrating my own self-made National Run Day with many happy miles, and anyone who wants to participate is invited.
How are you showing your run love today? How do you show your run love everyday?