Thursday, July 4, 2013

Runner unchained

Over coffee this morning, I sat down for my annual reading of the declaration of our independence, signed 237 years ago today. This is a favorite July 4th tradition, and every year some particular phrase jumps out at me, usually from the intriguing list of the king's "injuries and userpations." This morning I realized that the history books have missed an obvious fact: King George III was actually a tyrannic distance runner.

"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures."

As with all good writing, I take something different away from it every time I read it, and this year I think the take-away is all about my own unshackling from the tyranny of GPS. It is my personal practice to declare a month of freedom after every marathon: four weeks without worrying about pace or mileage, no planning for the next marathon, no poring over training schedules. I refuse to let myself even look at race calendars during those four weeks, which I will admit gets pretty tough toward the end. (Although, you know, if you want to talk to me about any good races you happen to know about in December, who am I to stop you?) I think that this self-enforced break from the cycle of training is what has kept me madly in love with running marathons for fifteen years. While my body has certainly gone through periods of burn-out and fatigue, my head never has.

At the end of a very tough work day yesterday, I found myself driving along the coast, and pulled over to run a few head-clearing evening miles on the sand. A half hour of unplanned, unstructured, slow, comfortable bliss. This week, a fellow runner put out the call to our Facebook group, inviting anyone to join her for a 4-mile run in Balboa Park this morning. When I read it, my impulse was to think about how those four miles would fit into my schedule for the week: Will we be running too fast or slow? Will I need to tack on some additional mileage, or throw in some hills at the end? With great relief, it occurred to me: it doesn't matter. Four miles at any pace would be great. I'm in. It was a lovely warm morning, and I showed up with absolutely no concern for how or where we ran, and made a new friend. As I was putting on my running clothes this morning, I strapped on my Garmin out of habit, but then checked myself. No need! I took it off, laced up my shoes, and was out the door.


Check out that naked wrist! In the last two weeks,
I've even lost my ever-present watch tan.
For these next couple of weeks (and maybe more, if this particular course of human events dictates that it should be necessary), I am enjoying this opportunity to reconnect to the real reasons that I love to run, which have nothing to do with numbers or qualifying times. Ah, freedom.

6 comments:

  1. Total running freedom! I love it! I have been out of commission for a whole 2 weeks now so I would kill for any run at any pace. Those impromptu runs, like your 4 miler this morning, are the BEST! I like that you're running without an agenda at the moment and would LOVE to join you for a run soon when I'm back at it. We have some catching up to do!

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    1. YES! We need to get out there QUICK, since you're getting back on your feet now (but maybe not back in running shape enough yet to wipe up the floor with me!!) Hope we can catch up over some fresh air and dirt soon!

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  2. What a fabulous tradition. You know maybe I should start doing the same thing. It's so worth it. Do you read it online somewhere or do you have a copy at home?

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    1. I just Google it every year, and read whatever comes up -- but it's usually this government archives site: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

      There's links to all the important charters on that site. Really fascinating stuff, our founding documents!

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  3. What a cool tradition to read the Declaration of Independence! I may want to adopt this one myself, great idea. :)

    Since my last marathon I have also been letting my mind rest from training plans, tempo runs, and caring about paces. I've been running with friends and enjoying it all. I do still take my Garmin but it's not a bad idea to just leave it behind! I tried racing without it for the first time at the Coronado 15k yesterday and it was just fine!

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    1. Ooh, I love that Coronado Independence Day 15k! I have done it a couple of times, and it's such a great race. And I also LOVE the idea of racing without a watch! I have never done that before, think I'll give that a try, in the spirit of freedom and independence. =)

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