Last night, a wonderful Christmas was topped off with a moonlit jog with my dog Rawlings.
A running pact with myself started on Thanksgiving morning. After being inspired by an article I read, I decided to run at least one mile a day from Thanksgiving through New year's day! It wasn't the distance that would be the challenge but taking time for myself everyday during the hectic month of December. It's much easier to go for a run or get in a workout when you have decided long in advance you were going to do it. There is no weighing the options or talking myself into it. I already decided I am running today. and tomorrow.
Lately, I have been running at night to get in my mile for that day. I have geared up with bright clothing, a flashlight, gloves, hat etc. To be safe and pass the least amount of cars I stayed near my house (which luckily is on a dead end road) I ran down the road a mere 125-150 meters and back over and over for at least a mile's equivalent. A few nights I made one direction a sprint and the other rest. Some days I jogged through both directions. As much as I tried to change, it had gotten a bit monotonous. Most nights I have been watching the time just getting my minutes in so as to not break my streak. Most nights I had already been a bit sore from other workouts and most nights I had been thinking about what I had to do when I went inside. ...Ok run, take shower, finish dishes, get kids ready for bed.
Last night was different. Last night was the most enjoyable run of the year! After a wonderful Christmas I put my sneakers on, a hat, a pair of gloves and headed out the door. My dog followed me out the door. His enthusiasm and his sprint down the driveway set the tone for the run! I immediately felt energized and excited to run. With the moon lighting up the road, I left my flashlight at home and could see farther than ever with just the natural light. As I sped up I started smiling to myself. All I could think about was how great I felt, how bright the moon and stars looked and how happy I was to strecth my legs and run. I was completely in the moment. Everything was so still I felt like the world had stopped and the only creatures moving were me and Rawlings. I looked to Rawlings and saw him sprinting ahead, slowing down, trotting, stopping to look and sniff something and then sprinting again. I knew he felt the same way, the world was his to explore. He was just enjoying the fresh air and stretching his legs. He didn't check his watch, he wasn't running through a to-do list, he didn't even keep an even pace! He ran by how he felt. An exaggerated fartlek perhaps. Then I realized he does this EVERY DAY. Every time he goes outside he is in the moment. The exhilaration of feeling your heart rate increase, your blood flowing, you breath shortening. Every day he feels the quiet of the morning and the calmness of the evening. He is in the moment. I had been running at least a mile a day for over a month and it was just tonight that I had this overwhelming happiness an almost euphoric feeling. I didn't want to stop I wanted to keep this moment. What a blessing to just be. I felt myself speeding up and slowing down as I pleased. The road seemed new. Not the same pavement I have been over and over for the last month but a wonderful path just for me to leap across. Before I knew it I had nearly doubled my "quota". Feeling refreshed and still smiling I headed inside.
I believe that this pure enjoyment and refreshed feeling is why dogs are so happy! This is why when you mention any words associated with going outside they are wagging their tail and panting in excitement. They never drag their feet. They probably don't think "I'm so warm and it's cold out" or "I'm so tired, I don't feel like it today". NO! They are jumping at the chance to use their bodies and explore the outdoors! When you are about to run try to dismiss the memories of sore muscles, aches and pains. I learned from my Rawlings I am lucky to have to moments of the day when all I have to do is move and stretch.
Remember You are your greatest vehicle. Running is not a chore or punishment. It is a celebration of your body and life! Lace up and Enjoy!