I have been struggling with my running lately. Not in any big way, but just enough for me to have been craving a Good Run. I have had several enjoyable and satisfying runs lately, but a Good Run is something special. It is one where, even if you struggle a bit at first, you suddenly realize, a couple of kilometres in, that you have found your groove. A Good Run is not necessarily easy – in fact, the challenging nature of it is part of what makes it Good. When you finish the run and hit the “Stop” button on your watch, you have a feeling of accomplishment. You have done the distance you promised yourself, and you have reserves left in the tank. You would be able to go further if you wanted to, and yet you feel that you have pushed yourself.
I have not had a Good Run for about six weeks.
Until this morning.
I drove to the community centre to see which other members of my running club were venturing out for a run in the snow. As it turned out, there were only two of us, and the other runner is one that I can pace myself to fairly well. Because of the snow on the ground, we agreed on seven kilometres. We briefly contemplated a trail by the lake, but rejected that idea due to the possibility of ice. We are two women running by ourselves in very wintery conditions: we chose to play it safe and stick to the roads.
The snow on the sidewalk made it a little difficult for us to keep our footing, and it took me about 1.5km to find my rhythm. Once I was going though, I was going pretty well. I resisted the temptation to outpace myself in the beginning, and although I did not make it all the way up the one and only (and very, very long and steep) hill on our route, I gave it a good shot and did pretty well. A water break and short breather at the top, and both of us were ready to go again. The sidewalks were a lot more slippery towards the end of the run, but I finished pretty strong.
The seven kilometres took a little more than 43 minutes. Considering the snowy conditions we were running in, I was happy with that time. But as with any Good Run, the time wasn’t even the point (that’s the other thing: Good Runs are not necessarily the fastest runs). The point was that I set out with a distance in mind, and I completed that distance feeling good about it the whole way. I felt that I had accomplished something, and maybe set myself back on track to actually follow a proper training program.
I have a little story that illustrates what a Good Run is like. Recently – on Christmas Day, as it happens – my younger son celebrated his 5th birthday. In honour of the occasion, I made him a cake. The trouble was, I didn’t have any icing to put on the cake. I dug around in the kitchen cupboards and did some research on the Internet, and came up with a recipe for icing sugar. A couple of hours and a big giant mess in the kitchen later, I had produced an iced, decorated cake. I had worked really hard to make it, and I had poured into it lots of love for my son.
It was not the best cake I had ever made. The icing was not as nice as the stuff you buy in the stores, and my “Happy Birthday James” lettering was not the neatest. But you know what? Because of what had gone into the making of it, and because of the look on my son’s face when he saw this cake that had been made just for him, it was the best cake I ever had.
A Good Run is like that – what makes it Good is not how fast you do it or whether it is easy – what makes it Good is the heart and soul that goes into it, and the feeling of reward that you have at the end.