When I began my running hiatus – there were few options for running watches.  I have always used a simple Timex watch.  It keeps track of overall time, splits, laps, and has a timer and alarm.  Sometimes when I am feeling so inspired, I leave the watch at home.  I remember the first time I saw a runner using a heart rate monitor – seemed pretty weird to me.

Well, for anywhere between 200-600 bucks you can get all sorts of watches.  They measure your HR, pace, distance, elevation loss/gain, sleep, etc., etc.   But do we really need all of this information?  Especially for those of us who are simply just going out for a run in the woods.

I prefer to ‘run by feel.’  What does this mean?  Well, just keep checking in:  How am I feeling?  What is my breathing like?  Am I thirsty or hungry?  How is my form?  Any aches and pains?  Am I having fun?  Can I be grateful in this moment?  These questions should guide your run.  With this approach there is less chance for injury, burnout and disappointment.

During my last run I was experiencing some tightness in my left knee.  I noticed this and asked myself what could I do to support my knee better.  Am I running too fast?  How is my form?  Is the terrain adding to the discomfort?  Should I finish my run or keep running?  No matter how much money you spend on a watch – it won’t give you this crucial information.

So be kind to yourself.  Check in with your body and mind in a kind and gentle way.  This is mindful running.  If you set out to run a certain distance, in a certain time – you don’t allow for things to change.  Running, as with life, is dynamic and ever changing.  You need to be flexible and adaptable.  An excellent life skill.

I’ve been running, in a structured way, for over 20 years now.  Apparently, the first sentence out of my mouth was ‘I num.’  I was running as soon as I could walk, so in a true sense, I’ve been running for over 30 years.

In 8th grade, for whatever reason, I began running a 3 mile loop before school each morning.  As it is for nearly all 12 year olds, this was a weird awkward period of my life.  Running gave me a sense of pride and self-confidence that I desperately needed.  And I found success in running as well – I placed 4th in the PE mile!

Thus began my career as a competitive runner.  In high school I ran 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters in cross country.  In college I ran 5k and 10k in track and 8k in cross county.  Post college, I ran a few 3ks and 5ks on the track and one marathon.  This all concluded in 2010.  Over the next many years I flirted with training and getting back in shape, but injuries and myself seemed to get in the way.

I began to get really into other outdoor pursuits, such as climbing, fishing, biking and skiing.  I also began a meditation practice.  In about 2012, after a very brief training stint, my Achilles began to act up.  This progressed over the next five years – to the point where if I ran for 20 minutes, I would be limping for the next week while I recovered.  I really thought I may have to give up running forever.  It was a really process of growth and personal exploration that helped to get past this injury (post to follow about what I learned in the process and what did/didn’t work).

Over the past six months I have been on a running awakening.  I have found the joy in running!  Where did this come from? – I just don’t know.  (I do have some ideas – which is the reason for creating this blog).  My entire perspective on running has changed.  I feel like I have been missing the point of running for the last 20 years.  Joy was the reason I ran as soon as I could walk.  But over the course of my competitive running – I lost the joy – This led to feelings of inadequacy, burnout, and injury.

There are many keys to running with joy, which I will discuss later.  But the joy is back!  And I couldn’t be happier!  I’m running (nearly) pain free, about 50 miles per week, and a long run of around 2.5 hours.