This morning I headed out the door for
13 solitary miles along a snowy, country road.
It was freezing and serene and lonely in a beautiful, romantic sort of way. My hips were slightly sore by the end, and I looked forward to sitting by the fire and eating everything I could get my hands on, but the thing is - I could have kept going. When you run for that long, it feels strange to stop.
Anyway, I feel accomplished and thrilled that I checked off yet another day of my Christmas break running/training schedule. I have been so incredibly motivated the past month. I haven't missed a day of training, and I have neatly written down each day's mileage and accomplishments on a piece of paper that I have tucked neatly into the training binder our coaches made for us.
And the thing is, I am really enjoying it. Though I definitely have days where the last thing I want to do is run a tempo in the freezing rain, I have a big goal in mind - and I'm wiling to sacrifice for it.
This is intrinsic motivation at its finest. I don't have a coach watching me or people to impress. I am alone with my thoughts. My feet drag along the pavement for the first few miles, stubbornly screaming at me to slow down or turn around and go home. But then, they quiet. I can hear my breath, I can feel the icy breeze and my numbing hands, and I get into a rhythm.
I haven't felt this way about running since I started my college career. Since the year I spent in Paris. Since I used to run by myself through the small French villages and smile at people as I passed them (They all looked appalled that I was running and not biking. Outside of Paris, running is not all that popular).
During those nine months, I ran for me. And I ran because I had a big dream ahead. I wanted to be a collegiate athlete. I wanted it so badly. It is so important to have goals. And so I sacrificed.
And I made it, and my motivation changed. I began to run to make my coach proud. I ran to impress my friends. I ran to beat my teammates. And slowly, the joy of running and competition seeped out of my heart. It became a job laden with pressure. It became a routine and I dreaded it.
I was fearful of losing because I put my identity into my performance as an athlete.
But lately everything has been different. I have been running for me again. And I have been running with a grateful heart, each day thankful that I am not injured (like I was last year at this time) and that I have the opportunity to be a collegiate runner. And I haven't been placing my identity in running or worried or stressed about missing a day - I have fully given it to God. So, I don't feel burnt out or heavy. I feel light on my feet.
I honestly was not too excited to face those icy, lonely miles alone this morning. But they were so worth it.
And I am so excited to see what is in store for me this track season.
One week left of Christmas break, and then it is back to practice, school, and track meets!