There are many articles one can google to understand the psychology of running. The endorphins, the runners high, the impact on serotonin, etc. But I want to take a step back from the science of psychology and look at the softer side. The side that tells me it feels good & just works.
Having been out of a training regime for almost 6 weeks has reeked havoc on my stress level, thus my emotional health. It’s been a challenging year, with many changes both good and bad. It has been a year filled with prayers of gratitude and cries of, “Please Lord, I really can’t take anymore”. But I could and I did. Most of this time of challenge and chaos was dealt with by pounding the pavement. I really have been blessed to find this avenue and the fortitude to stick with it long enough to embrace the passionate rewards it brings. But not having my running time has made me realize 1) its importance in my life and the focus & balance that it brings and 2) not doing it really makes me grumpy. Ok, well if we’re really being honest, I can get bitchy, which leaves little room for the optimistic side of me to flourish or show itself.
But today, I ran. I’m 2 days away from the 6 week mark. The line in the sand drawn by my wonderful Dr Wurth that allows me to start running at will. I have ran before, like the week I got my cast off (2 wk mark) I logged 8 miles. Oddly enough it was my longest run. But I was not supposed to be doing it and Dr Wurth shamed me in to mild submission and comply with his future restrictions at my last visit . So I’ve only put in a few runs here and there to keep my sanity in tact. So here’s what today’s run did for me. it’s my psychology of running and possibly or probably no one else’s.
My favorite run is in the rain. Not a drenching rain, but a light drizzle or shower. Imagine a soft summer shower, the kind with the sun still showing glimpses of its face by peeking from behind its cloud. There, the rain is warmer, yet cooling to the body as it offsets the heat of a sultry Tennessee summer. For me water is the ultimate healing experience. It represents a renewal of our bodies, a rebirth of our soul and a re-energizing of our spirit. Rain washes away the dirt and grime from our hearts as it does the debris in the streets. It clears the clutter from our minds as it does the cobwebs from a front porch. It is a reminder that God gives us what we need and will keep His promise. It’s cleansing in many, many ways.
Most of my runs are quiet time for soul-searching contemplation, debating the future, and conversation with God. I find that when it rains my prayers are more passionate. My dreams are bigger and the future seems brighter. Many would not agree with a good run in the rain, but that is the beauty of it all. The beauty of the run. The psychology of the run. It will bring something different to each individual. As my needs have changed emotionally since March, so has the psychology of my run, bringing me what I need at that time.
Another favorite part of a good run for me is running with my hair down. I have very long hair, past my shoulders, and a lot of it. This will be confusing for some, especially the women with any amount of hair. I have people comment on it all the time. Isn’t that hot? Isn’t it uncomfortable? Well, I don’t run this way very often during stifling hot summer days. I may start out that way with wet hair and as it gets hotter I will put it up. Here’s why I run with my hair down…
Go back with me in time to grade school. Remember those first really cool days of fall. The air was brisk but the sun was warm. And the first one to the swings was the winner. There, one universal truth held true, the higher, the better, always. Do you remember leaning back as far as you could on the swing forward to see only your tennis shoes touching the bright blue sky? This was where I learned to fly. My hair flowed in the wind. It gently tossed my strands around at will as it whispered on the back of my neck. On the back swing it would envelope my face like a warm scarf and be gone just a moment later to flutter in the wind again. It felt like freedom. The wonderful sensation of a perfect day with the endless possibilities of invincible youth. That’s what it’s like to run with my hair down. To capture, if only for a brief moment, the feeling that if I push hard enough, my feet will touch the sky!
Cleansing renewal and the opportunity of youth. This is the psychology of my run. What’s yours?