My Summer of #slowrunning

After taking nearly two months off (because of All This), I’ve started running again. I’m a bit concerned about what my running motivation and consistency will look like without an event to train for.

I’m a planner – I need something to structure my training around.

A Born-Again Newbie Runner

From my house, I have two basic routes:

I can turn right which leads to a lake that is too crowded under normal circumstances, and by all accounts has been overrun with people throughout our lockdown.

Or, I can run in any other direction, which is residential (and great for physical distancing), but is hilly.

Super hilly.

Killer hilly.

Wanting to avoid crowds, hills it is. As I headed out last week for my first runs in what feels like forever, it was rough.

First of all, we were in the midst of a heat wave. Not great timing on my part, but you gotta run when the spirit moves you.

Second, I was out of shape. Sure, I’ve kept up with exercise (doing mostly barre and yoga), but my cardio has been seriously lacking lately.

Third, I was in the hills.

I know from experience the local hills are tough when I’m at the peak of my training. That first run last week? It was the furthest away from ‘peak of my training’ I can get.

But…

While my run was physically rough, it was a different kind of run than I’d ever done before.

It also was the most enjoyable run I’ve had in quite a while.

I’d left my watch at home. Mostly because it was dead as a doornail after not being used for two months, but also because I knew it wouldn’t tell me anything I’d be happy about.

I didn’t have a set plan on route or distance. I ran in one direction until I felt like turning or until I saw others ahead of me I wanted to avoid (usually because they weren’t wearing masks).

I walked a ton. I’ve never had a problem with walk breaks, especially on hilly courses. But even by my standards, I walked a lot on this ‘run.’

I went down side streets in my neighborhood I’ve never been down before. And these aren’t far away corners of the city I’m talking about. These are streets three blocks away that I’ve never been down before.

I said hi to the neighborhood critters and pet a few of the most friendly neighborhood cats.

I (literally) stopped to smell roses and night blooming jasmine and marvelled at my neighbor’s purple passionflower.

My neighbors passionflower

I grabbed a bundle of rosemary tied in a ribbon that another neighbor had put on their front steps for anyone to take.

Was this a run that would prepare me for a marathon? Not a chance.

How far did I run? No idea. I can guess based on other routes I’ve done in the neighborhood (likely 3-4 miles each run), but I don’t know.

What was my pace? No clue.

Will my run automatically post on Strava and will I have run stats to post on Instagram? Nope.

Was this (and the two other ‘runs’ I did last week) the most fun I’ve had on the run in quite a while? For sure.

And that gave me an idea…

Finding A New Motivation

I’ve seen more of my neighborhood, pet more neighborhood cats, and smelled more flowers in my last 3 runs than I have in the last 10 years living in this neighborhood.

On these runs, I had an epiphany about my running this summer. I shouldn’t try to recreate race-centered motivation in a raceless season, I need to develop an entirely new motivation.

Last week, my motivation to run was something entirely different than it ever has been before.

Instead of running because I need to run 4 miles today so that I’ll be able to run 10 miles this weekend so that I’ll be able to run 26 miles in August, I’m excited to run because I don’t know what new thing I’m going to see or discover on that run.

My running journal was filled with observations and discoveries in the neighborhood, not pace and distance stats.

#slowrunning

This will be my summer of #slowrunning

Search for ‘slow running’ in Google and you’ll get one of two basic types of results: how to not be a slow runner (a/k/a – how to get faster), or why being slow doesn’t matter (a/k/a why you shouldn’t apologize for being slow).

This summer, I’m taking a page from the slow food movement.

Focusing less on pace, distance, and accomplishments.

Thinking of ‘slow running’ not as something to fix or apologize for, but as something to be embraced and encouraged (although, it doesn’t really have anything to do with pace).

What is #slowrunning?

Here are my tenets for #slowrunning

  • #slowrunning has nothing to do with pace. #slowrunning is a state of mind, not a pace. (That said, given my hilly local routes, my #slowruns will be slow, but that is coincidence, not design).
  • #slowrunning is about exploring and noticing things on the run you’ve never noticed before. Your neighbor’s garden. The amazing architecture of that odd little house. The mosaic that is inset in the corner of the sidewalk.
  • #slowrunning is not on the clock (or on the Garmin). Distance doesn’t matter. Pace doesn’t matter. This is about exploring, not anything your watch will tell you.
  • #slowrunning routes aren’t planned in advance. Turn right when you feel like it, turn left because it’s a street you’ve never seen before.

All about #slowrunning

I’m really looking forward to my summer of #slowrunning.

How many neighborhood cats will I meet? How many little free libraries are there in a 2-mile radius from my house?

I don’t know, but I’ll find out over the next few months.

One thought on “My Summer of #slowrunning

  1. Oh such a beautiful thought. I could relate to it completely. When I went for my first run after the lockdown I too had left my Garmin at home intentionally. I will try to do this #slowrunning because the weather and my current pace are not motivating me a bit.

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