I’ve discovered something. My inspiration has dwindled since marathon training ended. I’m not kidding. I never realized what the long run did for my psyche — truly — until now. It was the long run (the really long run) that I could free my mind, open my imagine and dream about doing things that actually felt possible due to the incredibly powerful dose of endorphins that are shooting through your body during that time.

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” — Elle Woods

It was the long run, when I ran through the cramps, the not-enough-sleep, the hunger, the anger, the anxiety, the hopes, the dreams and came out on the others side with perspective, clarity, rationality, focus. What is it about the long run?

Since ending training, my “long run” is usually no more than 7-8 miles. And when I do it, it’s not nearly as fun. I’m not working towards a goal and lately, I’ve just wanted to get it over with. Yikes! I wake up when I want on Saturdays, drink my coffee, lay around and next thing I know it’s 11 or 12pm and I do NOT want to gear up for a run.

The thing about training is you are always up early. You don’t have time to think about how much you don’t want to do it. You get to be done — and  have appreciated a gorgeous sunrise — by 8 or 9am! You are mentally prepared for a certain, a certain pace, a certain mileage. Leisurely running is lazy, unfocused, rushed, and totally not as effective mentally. My physical workout may get done, but the mental and spiritual have been tossed aside.

When I was in training mode, blog posts just flew into my head — great ideas for things to write about and interesting subjects related to running to ponder. It’s no wonder I enjoy running so much more with a goal in mind!

For years, I ran — to burn calories. I never liked it. I think that’s what people who say they “hate to run” are missing. They don’t know the passion and the inspiration it can bring with it. It doesn’t happen if you are only waiting for the run to end. It happens when you are open-ended, long-winded, heading down a long road with time on your  hands.

So, while I’m sort of dreading starting up training again for the DC Rock n’ Roll marathon in March — I also sort of can’t wait. It’s never easy when you start, but it’s always worth it by the end. You come away with so much more life than you started with. I’ve never trained in the winter so this will be interested. Does the cold sun or the chilly clouds bring a different kind of inspiration? You know I’ll come back and tell you!

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