I’m a routine kind of person. Just a few days into driving to my new job I had a route and I stuck to it. In the morning I know that if I follow my routine I won’t forget anything. When I go on a walk with Denali, if I stick to the routine, I’ll know how far we’ve walked without looking at my fitbit.
However, routines can sometimes hold me back. If I stay in the same lane on the way to work everyday, I might (and have) miss out on a shorter commute. If I walk the same way with Denali every time, she might get bored and the walk may not be as stimulating for her meaning she’s still full of energy when we get home. Every now and then it’s good to break out of a routine.
Running is no different. For long distance runs I usually run out and back – out 5 miles, back 5 miles. By doing this I know that I’ll get the correct mileage in without having to keep track of a route. Today, though, I decided I needed to do something different – I needed to go off my usual path.
I ran into Broad Ripple and instead of taking the Monon Trail, I stayed on the main street. I had to dodge a few obstacles, which kept me alert and aware. I turned north onto College Ave and then soon realized there wasn’t a sidewalk on that side of the street. So I ran across for a bit then back when the sidewalk started. I remembered this route from a race I ran a few summers ago. I knew there would be a “hill” and thought some added elevation to my typically flat routes would be good for me. However, I did not remember that there were three “hills” in less than a mile! By the time I met back up with the Monon I was feeling a little tired!
The rest of the run was familiar to me since I was on the trail. But, because the start of my run was different, I really didn’t know if I was on track to get home with the right mileage. It turns out I was a little short but was able to fix that easily. I finished my last long run before the race next weekend – 10.25 miles. Not bad considering I didn’t run at all last week due to illness.
I enjoyed trying something new this morning. I also enjoyed getting back on familiar (flat) ground. I can’t say that I’m going to start deviating from all my routines – I do think there is value in having consistency in my days. However, I also think it’s important to not be too rigid – so rigid that I can’t try something new or out of the ordinary.
I’m never going to be the fastest runner – a lot of people passed me by today. But, I can always try to get a little faster – even just a few seconds. Taking a different route, pushing myself on varying elevations, giving myself small goals (like get to the bridge, then you can take a short walk/water break) – all of these little things add up, they help me get a little stronger and maybe a little faster.
Last week I was certain I’d never run again (perhaps I can be a bit dramatic sometimes!) because I was sick for several days in a row and had no energy. I reminded myself of that statement today while I was running – not only am I running, I’m still training for another half marathon.
It’s not now, but at one point in my life running was out of the ordinary for me. I had to make some brave choices and step out into something completely new in order to become a runner. Right now there are some things in my life that feel very out of the ordinary, but running has taught me that anything is possible. Acting out of the ordinary, feeling out of the ordinary can be scary, but it’s also the opening to something new. So, I’m going to be open to whatever this new thing will be.
In the meantime, don’t mind me while I run my 12th half marathon next weekend. 😉