Running in the morning can be exhilarating. The cool air, the quiet streets, the isolation and alone time with your thoughts...it can truly be poetic. When the weather is especially good, running in the mornings can turn cranky pants inside out, make a Monday feel like the best day ever, and put a spring in your step all day long.
This was not that kind of morning.
I had a difficult run today. Since being chastised for running alone in the dark, I've stayed indoors for my early cardio and saving running for lunchtime, after I've had a chance to limber up and get that powerful combination carbs and coffee flowing through my veins. But this morning as I wrapped up my resistance training and headed for the elliptical, I bypassed it and went outside instead. I almost got in my car and went home, and then something pulled me towards the street. I stood there for a second, debating. But inevitably I snapped on my headphones, turned on the Violent Femmes, looked both ways, and took those first steps onto the pavement.
I went about two blocks before it started to suck. My legs were cramping up and my feet felt like bricks. And, it was raining. Just a little, but I usually like running in the rain.
I stopped and stretched, then started back running. Again my legs seized up and my shins caught fire. I flashed back to running with my dad as a kid and him telling me, "sometimes you just have to run through the pain." So I ran through the pain. Or rather, I plodded through the pain. This was not the exhilarating jaunt through the cool morning air that I was used to. I was puzzled. I had been tricked. I stopped and looked at my feet expectantly. What was wrong with them? Did they not get the memo on the "one in front of the other" routine? I shook them out and started, for the third time, down the sidewalk. This was getting personal.
Three blocks later, I started walking. Run a few steps, walk. Run a few steps, walk. I stopped and shook my feet again. They felt weird. I sat down on the wet sidewalk and untied my shoes. Feeling blood return to my limbs, I had to laugh. The irony of not being able to run because my shoes were tied too tight was too much to ignore. I retied my laces, a little more loosely this time, and started down the sidewalk for a final attempt. This time, with a little more wiggle room, I sailed down the sidewalk and over puddles, stretching my stride and pulling myself up the hills. And by the time I returned to my car 30 minutes later, soaked and tired and worn out, I had stopped trying to count the parallels of my too-tight shoes to my too-tight life.
Without some wiggle room, it's hard to get any momentum. The next couple of weeks will be challenging for me to get in the amount of gym time I like. Between work travel, lunchtime obligations, and generally having to be a responsible adult (grrrrr), I will be lucky to get one good workout a day. But, I'm going to try and take it in stride. I think I got my first preview of what will happen if I don't.