…that moment when a long run starts to feel really good and really easy. Not exactly the true ‘runner’s high’ where you can’t stop smiling and you feel like you just gorged yourself on the pharmaceutical happy trough, that comes too rarely for me. I mean the moment when your legs and lungs have stopped fighting you, your feet are turning over evenly and painlessly, and everything from the neck down doesn’t need constant focus. You’re a well oiled machine. Sometimes it comes in the second mile. Sometimes in the eleventh. And occasionally it doesn’t show up at all. But it’s something I hope for and look forward to on every run.
…when certain songs pop up on my iPod, exactly when I need them to. On one of my recent long training runs, I was starting to get too ‘in-my-head’. My first marathon is coming up in only a few weeks and I was far too pessimistic about my state of fitness. Then, serendipitously, the song “Space Olympics” by The Lonely Island came up on my iPod. There is something so ridiculous but weirdly inspirational about that song (seriously, go listen to it, as long as you’re okay with the occasional curse word). It helps that the song also reminds me of a good friend of mine who enjoys the same absurd and ridiculous humor as I do. As soon as the first chords play, and I hear Andy Samburg belt out “Reach for the stars!”, I find that I’m already smiling and laughing to myself. By the end of the song I’m usually singing along, much to the confusion of strangers I pass. There are other great songs that come up, too – “Push It” by Garbage, when I’m aching but want to run hard for instance (“This is the noise that keeps me awake, my head explodes and my body aches” sums it up perfectly) – but hearing “Space Olympics” always snaps my brain into a happy place.
…clever signs from spectators at races. Non-runners will never know how much runners appreciate your silly signs. They make us giggle, they flatter us, and they distract us, if only just for a second. My favorites: “Run, stranger, run!”, “One day, you won’t be able to do this. Today is not that day.”, “Nice legs!”, and my all-time favorite: “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.”
…being a part of the running community. Before I was a runner, I always saw people running and looked at them quizzically. I didn’t know what made a person run, and since I thought running was just a brutal punishment of exercise, I thought runners were crazy. Now that I’m a runner? I can definitively say that, yes, runners are crazy. Crazy fit, crazy devoted, crazy friendly, and crazy supportive. Just go plug into the running community on Twitter (try #runchat to check it out) to see how supportive and wonderful these folks are.
…feeling kick-ass. I love that I am to the point where I can run reasonably quickly and constantly for long periods of time. I like wearing shorts now to show off my powerful legs. I like telling people that I’m going to bed early because I’m waking up to run a bunch of miles ridiculously early in the morning. I like that I’m the people I used to be jealous of – the ones I saw running down the sidewalks and on trails, the ones running for miles and miles and miles when I could barely run/walk 3 miles in 40 minutes.
…that I can run. Despite the fact that I sometimes feed my body with mediocre food and occasionally poison it with alcohol, my legs and my body will carry me if I ask it to. Like the sign I mentioned before, one day I won’t be able to run. Today is not that day.