There are many payoffs when it comes to running. Improved cardiovascular fitness, weight loss and efficient calorie-burn, stress relief, “me” time – the list goes on. It’s easy to take that aspect of the running habit and run with it so to speak.
This weekend I experienced another kind of payoff from running.
It was raining, and I’m not usually one to shy away from a run in the rain but I’m still just getting back into it and I found myself staring out the kitchen window with a grimace on my face because I was dreading the wet and the cold.
Now, for some that would be enough to bail. No running today, it’s raining. No 10km logged today, I don’t want to be cold.
I have a rule for myself, though.
On the odd occasion when I don’t want to head out for my run, there is a deal I make with myself. I can bail on the run, but I have to run first. That’s right, I get dressed and head out the door. I only have to do 10 minutes, and if, after 10 minutes I still don’t feel like running then I can turn around and head home. It sounds pretty cheesy to say it, but I’ve never turned around.
So, on Saturday, when I didn’t feel like running in the rain I implemented that deal with myself. I headed out the door. I saw my neighbour, loading his car up to go snowboarding (we had just gotten 20-something cm overnight) – we exchanged hellos and smiles; off to a good start.
I carried on along my route, kind of picking my path as I went. I knew I wanted to hit parts of the actual Whistler Half course, but from the direction I was hitting it from I didn’t have much to play with being that I was only going 10-11km round trip.
There were a lot of people on the trails but for the weather. Dog walkers, grocery shoppers, other runners, daycare providers with children in tow; lots of good mornings and hellos and smiles. Heart soaring now.
As I made my way through Creekside via Nita Lake, I noticed about 400m ahead of me another girl running. She looked familiar. Chalk it up to running pretty much every training run together for 12 weeks in 2012, I knew that gait. I decided I needed to catch her just to say hi.
My pace quickened, and I pushed myself into a zone I wasn’t quite expecting to be in for my long run. It felt good, though, to be challenging myself so I went with it. I caught up to her at Alpha Lake Park, where she had slowed to turn around.
It was Jackie!
Now, whenever Jackie and I see each other on the trails it’s never a stop and chat kind of thing. And that is 100% okay. We are both busy moms, we are out there for a short amount of time getting in a good sweat. We are taking our “me” time. We say hi and exchange a “go mama, go” or some sort of encouragement for being kick ass and carry on.
Oh, and we always high five each other.
Here I was, now, headed into my last mile toward home. I’m pretty much thrilled with myself for actually getting out the door, it can’t get better than this, that shower is going to feel so good not to mention the date with my foam roller (hello, IT band). Rocked up the hill toward the final stretch to my front door and I see someone.
Another friend. A new mama walking with her babe and her doggie. I run past, say hi and it strikes me that I need to stop and talk to her. Something in the air, something in my heart told me to stop.
Stop I did. And we talked. I won’t go into details, but anyone who has been a new mama knows that the exhaustion and the struggles and the overwhelming need to have all of the answers sometimes wears us down. A hug was in order. A big one.
My friend got a really sweaty hug.
I shouldn’t even be calling it a payoff. It was so much more than that.
I got to high five a friend, smile with strangers and share love. I got to be an ear for a friend who needed it. I got to get wet, splashing through puddles without a thought to the consequence of cold feet.
I walked into my house with the awareness that I got a lot more out of that run than just a workout. That morning my run was about a little more than the cardio, the calories burned, the “me” time.
It was about connection.