Running on ‘happy’

Now that I’ve been blogging for awhile, one of the things I’ve been noticing more lately among *some* runners out there is that it seems as though there is no joy in running for them anymore. They’re so caught up in getting their miles in, sticking to their training plan, beating their pace time after time after time, and racking up as many race medals as possible. Which *may* be fun for some — please don’t get me wrong there, I’m not here to bash my fellow blog friends at ALL — but I sometimes wonder if, amidst all of that planning and scheduling if the joy in running gets lost in all that clutter, so to speak.

…at the end of the day, shouldn’t running make you feel joyful and happy and ‘high’ on life?

Or is that just me whose ultimate goal is to walk away from as many runs as I can feeling as though I ran happy and strong and proud (*most* of the time, anyway)?

I guess I should preface this all by saying that every runner is different, I totally get that. Every runner runs for different reasons. No two runners are alike. And really, who am I to say that “my” approach to running is any better or worse than the next runner’s approach. Right??

(Wow. This is a very, very long preamble to the entire point of my post today – sorry!!)

Anyway…

My point today? That it feels great to “run on happy.” Casting aside training plans, distance goals, pacing, etc. And just running, and running happy.

That’s exactly what Scott and I did on Sunday. We had no real plan in mind – just to run. Once we got out there we knew it would be on the shorter side because it was kind of gross out and well, to be honest — neither of us were in the mood to go all that far (we were still really feeling the 11 miles we ran two days prior).

So we set out to run…something. Maybe 3 or so miles. Who knows how far we actually went. All I do know is that it ended up involving lots of hills and speed. What started as a “few miles to shake the legs out” became a really, really fun hilly rundate on a dreary Sunday morning.

About halfway through, I found myself chugging up a hill and actually enjoying it. Like legit enjoying the hill work. Huffing and puffing alongside Scott and just letting my body work. No mind games. No worry over how I’d feel aftewards. No real thinking at all. Just working those hills.

And it was just the reminder that I needed — that not every run needs to be pre-planned, nor does every run need to be focused on distance and endurance. A switch in my running focus was exactly what I needed on Sunday. The past few weeks I’ve talked a lot about how my mind has been far too chatty when I run. And truly? It was causing me to miss out on the joy that running brings me. I wasn’t having fun out there anymore.

Now that I’ve realized that that was the reason my running was feeling fairly lackluster the past few weeks, my mind has calmed way down. I feel confident and strong and ready to run on May 6 (note that I didn’t say ‘race’).

I’m going into this half marathon with one goal in mind now — to Run (13.1) Happy.

That is all.

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34 thoughts on “Running on ‘happy’

  1. This has such a great and inspiring message. Honestly, I think the thought goes across the board with working out. HIIT workouts and all the higher intensity stuff has taken over and unfortunately I think with tons of injuries in the process. Sometimes, it’s good to just take it easy and enjoy the whole process of moving your body. Absolutely love this!

    • I tend to agree with you — I think that’s the one danger in blogging, it can cause any of us to lose sight of what’s important and what works for us, not for another runner, swimmer, weight lifter, etc., but what works for each of us as individuals. I love the idea of simply enjoying the whole process of moving your body. Such a simple concept, huh?

    • See? If we could all see the world through a child’s eyes again? I just think the world would be a much better place, don’t you? I love that he said that when you finished your big PR-worthy race!

  2. I struggle with this a lot, especially when I find myself running more than 20 miles a week. It just isn’t fun anymore. Jason has suggested that instead of signing up for half-marathons, I should focus on faster 5 and 10Ks because running those distances doesn’t make me hate running.

    • Jason makes a good point — if you truly find that you don’t LOVE running longer and longer, why do it? Stick to shorter distances that you love. Not all running has to be about distance and miles. My run on Sunday was total proof of that. It was my best run in MONTHS and it was maybe 3 or 4 miles, max. It wasn’t about the miles that day, and honestly it doens’t need to be as often as it winds up being, ya know?

  3. YES —> “at the end of the day, shouldn’t running make you feel joyful and happy and ‘high’ on life?” Abso-freaking-lutely. I hated running until I just ran to enjoy. Let go of everything, stop with the obsessing. Now, sometimes I actually enjoy pushing myself, testing my limits. But every run is not that way. It can’t be or it sucks the fun out of it. It’s about being outside, enjoying the fresh air, that feeling of freedom. It’s not to say that there isn’t a place for hardcore training – for those hill repeats and tempo runs. But they can’t be ultimate goal all the time. And I love those runs when you just set out with no real direction or number in mind. You just go until it feels right.

    • Half of the battle truly *is* learning to let go, trusting the process, trusting your body and just going with it. Whatever the miles, the pace, the speed – who cares. Bottom line – if you love it, keep at it. If you don’t love it, if it doesn’t give you joy – move on.

  4. Love this!

    The day that running stops being joyful for me is the day that I hang up my running shoes for good. Of course, not every run is terrific but in general I think it should be done for enjoyment…whatever that means to each person individually.

    Glad you found your happy again! :-)

    • I totally agree with you – if I wake up one day and find that NONE of my runs are enjoyable anymore, something is very wrong and its time to switch that focus. Either for the short-term or long-term, but something’s gotta give. Find your happy <—love that!

  5. Yes, yes, YES to all of this! As much fun as it is to work your butt of and feel and see the changes in your body and speed, it is just as much fun to just get out there and enjoy the run. Every time I run I am grateful I can run, grateful that I can get outside, enjoy the world, and just run.

    I’m beyond excited to enjoy my favorite 13.1 with you and Scott on May 6th – it is going to be a fun and proud race, with no matter of how fast or slow we run, because we all got to enjoy it together, and in the end, isn’t that what matters the most?

    • Exactly – simply embracing the movement that comes with running, the ‘high’ that comes with running, and getting away from all the technical crap that can wind up stealing the joy from a run now and then, so important IMHO.

      I can’t wait to run a happy and fun and joyful 13.1 with you on May 6th!!

  6. I completely agree. Running should be fun, otherwise, why do it? I have been struggling to find my fun of late, but today’s run and mini-competition with gym hero next to me helped me chug through and feel strong by the end. That’s what I need!

    • Sometimes it takes just one run where you leave nothing left but sweat and hard work on that ground (or treadmill belt) that is the only reminder you need that running is joyful and worth the effort. Of course not EVERY run will feel so joyful, but most of them should…at least I think so. Why do it if you don’t love it, yeah?

  7. Those are the best miles! A good reminder. When it starts being no fun, it’s time to re-evaluate! — Ericka @ The Sweet Life (sweetlifeericka.com)

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  9. I love this! I totally agree with you about *some* bloggers and have wondered the same thing. Running because it makes you happy is the best reason to run and will keep you the most motivated!

    • That’s exactly right. Never forcing a run “just to run” becaues it was on the schedule or whatever. But truly remembering to run because you love it and because you WANT to run. It’s so easy to get lost in the “but it’s on the training schedule!” mode – and sometimes its good to stick to training, while other times a step back is really important and helpful to never losing that running joy. I’m going to try REALLY hard to remember this when I start marathon training!

  10. I’m so glad you brought this up—-it’s a great reminder for me in all areas, that when something stops being fun, it’s time to re-evaluate the approach! This definitely happened to me when I was in gymnastics when I was young—it was awful, and I try to use that as a point of reference when I find myself falling into that feeling again.
    I’m all about the qualitative aspect of every workout—it’s one thing for it to be difficult, it’s another thing to hate or dread it!

    • Bingo. A challenging or difficult workout is very different than a workout you battle because you dread it or hate it. Doing things because you “have” to vs. truly WANT to.

  11. I have been so overwhelmed with life, moving, work, ect. I was heading out for a run and was talking with my mom on the phone before hand. She asked me why, with everything going on, am I going running? Wouldn’t it make me even more worn out. I told her no! It is the one thing keeping me sane wright now! It’s relaxing to me and calms me down. Restores me. I need my run. It makes me happy. :-)

  12. You know, I was thinking this very same thing last week. I noticed a lot of posts about running, racing, how to enjoy it, etc. etc. And it seems as though everyone’s caught up in a “funk”. I’m not sure why…maybe it’s because we have a tendency to really focus on the technical crap: pace, form, mileage, training, etc.

    I discovered I was in that “funk” a few weeks ago when I was running…and left my iPod in the car. I did it because I’m still secretly scared of running my route after that attempted assault. But, I’m glad I did. My Garmin died on me, which didn’t freak me out…and I ran naked. No timing, I know the distances, and I just focused on the “sounds of running”. It was glorious! Haha.

    I love this post. Tons!

    • I’ve been noticing the trend for quite awhile and figured it was high time someone brought it up (I love to stir up trouble hehe). If you don’t LOVE it, why do it. That’s my thing. Don’t steal the joy right out from under you by forcing yourself into something you don’t love, or ruining something you LOVE by putting too many rules or parameters around it, now what I mean? I’m so glad you loved the post and that you’re learning to embrace and love running in all of its simplicity. Rock on!!

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