Posted by: David Stewart | March 28, 2012

Running to Work

Do you work out for fun? Or to improve your health / looks / attitude? (Maybe I should ask first, are you exercising regularly at all now?)

You would think I would have this figured out by now, since I have been running races since about 1996 or so. This weekend I did an 18 mile easy training run, and when I was finished, my inner voice said, “Well, that wasn’t the most fun run I have had, but it’s wasn’t bad.” But then I asked myself, “What would be the most fun I have had running?” That really stopped me cold.

When I’m in the moment and mindful of what’s going on, the act of running takes effort. It’s not like biking where you can just coast at some point and enjoy the scenery. I might be able to tune out my body’s effort and pain and use the time for thinking or talking with fellow runners or enjoying the scenery. Racing, going really fast, is usually a lot of fun too, though it usually comes with even more suffering.

This spring I ran a 5K, 10K and 15K runs, about once per month. There are so many things about racing that are fun that it’s hard to stop. Friends asked me if I would be running the Race for the Roses this weekend in Portland, a Half Marathon (13.1 miles).

My running coach basically told me to knock it off. Stop running races on the weekend. When I’m racing, it’s hard to get in the quality workouts I need to get ready for the Newport Marathon in June. So I told her I would be good and not race any more for a while.

Running has to be about work for me. Quality work, speed training, tempo runs, gym workouts. This is how it is if I want to meet my time goals in the marathon. Delayed gratification will get me to a greater level of fun later.

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