The Best Run. Ever.

I just got back from the best run of my life.

Well, I wrote this on Monday afternoon and now it is Wednesday night. But I’m not changing the tense because I don’t want to.

So yes. I just got back form the best run of my life.

My iPod battery was dead, I wasn’t anywhere near my favorite paths, I forgot my heart rate monitor, it was 88 degrees, humid, and overcast.

Not exactly ideal conditions, huh?

But it was So. Much. Fun. Probably the most fun I have ever had running, actually. These vibrams continue to make me into a completely different runner. But I’ll do more of a Vibram update in another post — here I want to write about the surprising joy of the run I just finished, because it was like nothing else I’ve experienced. And I am so relaxed and happy and sort of in awe of what running can be and can feel like.

Damn, these Vibrams are making me into a crazy hippie. I’m even laying out in the park, handwriting this post. Still sweaty from the run, still wearing the “shoes,” and just feeling amazing.

I always thought that, when I run, it’s pretty much the music I’m listening to that keeps me going. I run along to the beat. It distracts me –I get lost in it and forget what I’m doing. Not that I was trying to forget that I was running — you all know that I enjoy the act of running — I just always assumed that, since I had only ever run with music, I wouldn’t be able to keep myself motivated to run for longer than 5 minutes without music. I assumed I’d get bored. In addition to the run, the music gave me something else to focus on and enjoy. If I didn’t feel like running, but did feel like hanging out with Kanye, I’d go on a run. Plus, while I have not always been a runner, I have always been a music listener. So perhaps by making music such a pivotal part of my workout and integrating something extremely familiar with something extremely unfamiliar, I was able to more easily mentally acclimate to being a runner? Oh, I don’t know. Yeah, I think that makes sense. When Lil’ Wayne and his cohorts are cursing in your ears about cars, dollahz, and how their success doesn’t matter because their uncles ain’t even messaging them, it’s hard to focus on how you’re doing something that you never really thought you would be doing. Since I could easily lose myself in music, I was easily to lose myself in running (transitive property).

But today, when faced with an absence of in-flight entertainment, I had the most glorious time ever. It doesn’t hurt that I’m just on the verge of being able to run in vibrams like a normal person (which to me means being able to comfortably do my standard 4-6 mile run in them without sore calves/feet/achilles in the last few miles). But not having music made the run so much more fun! Rather than use the beat provided by Jay Z et al, I slipped into what I guess is a natural rhythm for me.  And I actually noticed myself stepping lighter, too — maybe since I could hear my steps on the path, I was more aware of the force I was stepping with? I don’t know. Rather than pay attention to a heart rate monitor reading or watch, I paid attention to, oh. I don’t know what! I don’t even remember the run, even though I just finished it twenty five minutes ago.

I also have always considered my heart rate monitor (HRM) to be a key tool for my running. I aim to keep my heart rate (HR) in a specific range depending on the length and intention of the run I’m planning. At the end of a run, I usually sprint my brains out to max my HR. I think I’m pretty good at using my HRM to build good workouts for myself. Plus, I like knowing how many calories I burn and how long my workouts last, and the HRM tells me those things, as well. It helps me to see my workouts as something tangible, rather than just numerous sweaty periods of my life.

181 is pretty much maxed out enough!

But not having it. Wow. It was like I forgot that I was burning calories or exercising at all. I was just using my body to do the strong and healthy stuff it does. I was just running to run.

So on this absolute best run of my life, I had absolutely no sense of time or really sense of anything other than exactly what was around me and exactly what I was feeling. The humidity, heat, etc, was just part of what the experience was — it didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t get bored because every step was interesting — I didn’t get lost in ANYTHING other than the act of running and it was just exhilarating. I wasn’t running along with music or to reach a certain calorie burn or to stay at a certain heart rate — I was just running how my body naturally wanted to run. I was way more absorbed in my surroundings that I usually am and remember just feeling like my run was much more my own than it ever had been before. With the exception of stop lights, cars, and other runners and bikers, nothing affected my run. It was comfortable and fun and it didn’t seem like I was exercising, but rather like I was just sort of hanging out & doing my thing. I wasn’t even putting one foot in front of the other, but was rather just sort of gliding along. I love the tip-toe wind-like-form that the vibrams naturally inspire.

Shoes that pick you flowers are very nice shoes indeed.

I told you these shoes were making me crazy.

I’m sure that I’ll still bike and enjoy gym time with my rapper friends. I love them. And I’ll keep my heart rate monitor around, because I do like to train with it and really know how hard my body is working. But I know that my next run will be musicless. And I know it will also be fantastic.

And the Wednesday run tonight was fantastic. And musicless. But longer than it should have been, perhaps, at 5.5 miles (the Monday run was 4.4, but this is the first time I only left one day of no vibrams between runs). My feet are not so happy with me. But they can deal, and this will make them stronger eventually. I cannot WAIT to be fully acclimated to my feet & this bare-foot-ish running thing!! Oh, and did I mention that that horrible leg pain that used to show up IS GONE? Sigh. These vibrams are changing my life.

update: it’s national running day!? How appropriate. Happy National Running Day!

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13 Comments to “The Best Run. Ever.”

  1. arent they fabulous?!?!?! i love my bikilas as well and have become a VFF addict!
    doing the warrior dash in my treksports in August!

  2. Excellent post…working out is definitely more fun when it’s spontaneous! I’m amazed at how clean those vibrams look too:)

  3. I like your flower toes 🙂

  4. I’ve been a fan of no music running for years and all of your reasons are why!

  5. I am glad that you found a “new” way to run! If I ever take up running I will think about doing it sans music. Thanks!

  6. Fantastic post! Go the toe shoes! Wow 56mins running…I’m jealous! Re not having all things in order….weirdly I did the same kind of thing yesterday – I forgot my watch, the dog was being right pain in the preverbial on the way to the park and at the park yet rather than these things putting me off I just trucked on and actually had a fantastic run….jog/walk actually. But still, I really enjoyed it.

    In terms of running without music – awesome stuff. I honestly don’t get the whole running to music thing (except on a treadmill – God I hate those things!) & find it really odd seeing people in races with earphones in. Of course it depends on where you are running – if you are always around traffic then year I’d be listening to music as traffic drives me nuts. But in the great outdoors – rivers, birds, the wind in the trees, silence….just fabulous. And it’s amazing how you can just race along in dream land then realise how much distance you have covered.

    Love the picture too – I have actually started to draft blogs more when out & about – during a walk or run with the dog – got a little netbook thing. No internet access but it has Word so ideal. I had thought about handwriting but mine is just crazy these days – I can barely read it myself!

    • hah, that 56 minutes HRM shot was actually from a run in January — you caught me!

      Glad to know that I’m not the only one who can’t always be completely streamlined in the workout gear organization process! It’s cool when we can get over ourselves and our inner bratty child and enjoy things under the circumstances we find ourselves in.

      Treadmill. Ugh.

      Ooh, now I really want to do a musicless race! That would be even more fun!

      And yeah — notebooks are excellent. I don’t hand write things nearly enough, but I do enjoy it! Although decoding the writing later can be a bit of a challenge, yes..

  7. It must be the shoes – I always used my music when I ran – but have found that in my VFFs, I leave the music behind and just “Go with” the run.

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