My Return To Running Happy
By Nathan Yanko
Photos By Drymax and Devon
When I began running back in high
school I found a sense of freedom and joy I have only been able to find while
being in the woods. I was able to
clear my mind, work through problems, and simply relax. I would go to my school classes and
think about getting back out to the trails. It was a way for me to feel healthy, socialize with people
on my team if I wanted or find the solitude that I occasionally needed. It made me happy and helped balance me.
Over the last year I have not
been happy with running. Most of
my runs felt like a chore, and I didn’t look forward to getting out for long
runs. Although, I had no interest
in racing I would still find myself toeing the line every once in a while. I wasn’t enjoying it though. I look back over the last year and even
two years and see that I ran myself into the ground. Running at some point became something I had to do as
opposed to something that I wanted to do.
I have felt like there is so much
pressure to get out and log more miles each weekend, and be ready to go out and
push my body to extremes. I needed
to increase my odds from some random person’s online poll, which ultimately
doesn’t matter. I was supposed to
log 100+ miles a week or I wasn’t training enough. In retrospect I know all of this is ridiculous, but at the
time all I could think was I needed to keep pushing.
At one point after months of
trying to push through the slog of running I was doing, I decided to pull out
of all the races I had on my calendar and stop wearing a watch. I didn’t write out a running schedule,
didn’t think about my pace or splits, and ran when and what I wanted to. Very quickly I started to smile a
little more on my runs. However I
still wasn’t totally excited about running. I kept with my plan of removing myself from feeling the
requirement to run and just ran when I wanted to and with no purpose.
I’m still not 100% back to
running happy and free. However, I
do wake-up in the morning and think “yeah, I want to go on a run now”, and my
watch tan-line has long faded away.
I look forward to most of my runs but I am also not concerned or feel
weak if I decide to cut a run short.
Ultimately I am working on being happy with my running and getting back
to the roots of why I run. It
really feels like an ultra, and I just keep telling myself: “one step at a
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