I love running. And runners.
The Rio Summer Olympics kicks off tonight and even though I don’t often watch sports, hit the track, or the road if I can help it, I look forward to watching people move.
Four years ago I was on vacation in Maine and woke up, poured myself some cereal, and turned on the TV. I found the 2012 London Olympics women’s marathon. As I ate a few bowls of Honey Bunches of Oats (with almonds) I watched the runners crush mile after mile, in the rain. They moved at a pace which I could only sustain for maybe two miles. Before the race was even over I had signed up for the Wineglass Marathon (giving myself a comfy month and a half to train).
Two years before that I had decided to start running regularly, but not seriously. After hating every shoe I put on my foot, I picked up a pair of Fivefingers. I ran three miles in them and couldn’t walk properly for days. Calf pain. Blisters. I knew it wasn’t a fault in the footwear, just my body. As I adjusted to the most minimal running I had ever done, I really fell in love with it. The lack of “shoe” forced me to run more efficiently, with quicker and lighter steps. I found myself getting faster and stronger. I ran in them almost exclusively until I signed up for that marathon. I didn’t love the shoes, specifically, just what the shoes enabled me to do.
But this isn’t a post about footwear, I promise, it is about inspiration.
It is worth noting, though, that I got a pair of proper shoes (New Balance Minimus) for that Wineglass Marathon, my first, and did okay — 3:04:19. Qualified for Boston, but didn’t enter, because after that things changed quite a bit.
I knew I had a good “problem” when my go-to seven mile run started to feel very short. It was too easy, like I had taken a shortcut or stopped too soon. What is longer than a marathon? Did people do anything beyond 26.2? I was naive, and it wasn’t until 2015 that I ran my first ultra, a trail 50 miler. I finished in just over 10 hours, and had some soul searching to do in terms of running. I felt like I had accomplished something huge, but I knew I didn’t want more miles. 50 was plenty. But I also knew that races no longer mattered to me. I entered a few after that 50, halfheartedly, mostly because other friends were running them. And then I took a vacation and chilled out on running for a bit.
When I picked it back up in September of last year I searched for new trails to love, with no plan, and no race on the calendar. And before I knew it I was running over 100 happy miles per month. Then 120, then 140, and in February of this year, 150. All outside, rain/snow/shine (no gym memberhsip/treadmill access for me). If I log over another 81.1 miles in the next 26 days it will be a full year of 100+ mile months. That’s a not-so-humble brag I know, but some people can do that without breaking much of a sweat.
I ran the only race I’ll run this year back in June and didn’t even finish. But two days later I was back on the trails simply because I love it.Which brings me back to where we started…
The Olympics are here! The last time the summer games happened I was inspired to run like never before. Maybe this is your year to find inspiration that will literally move you hundreds and then thousands of miles.