And strides, and LSD, and tempo – and being chased.
Literally, I have been dreaming every night about running. Each dream is different, but night after night, I have been running in my sleep.
Last night, I dreamed about running alongside someone else. I don’t know who it was, but we were running fast, with another pair of runners on our tails. When I first woke up, I thought we were being chased by bad guys, but I think we were actually racing them to get to something valuable before them. I’m reading a series of books about a super hero chick and her friends who are always trying to stay a step ahead of the bad guys, so I think that also influenced the dream. Anyway, we were running way faster than I can in real life (which was fun), and I was going so hard I’m surprised I didn’t wake up sweaty and out of breath.
These dreams reassure me in a strange way. While I’m awake, I have been missing running like crazy. Everything about it. Getting together with my friends, the fresh air, being up and active so early in the morning, the rhythm of my footsteps pounding over the pavement, and even all the sweatiness. But in the back of my mind, I’ve also been a little nervous that being forced to take this break would make it hard to start up again and that I might be tempted just to stop. After all, I did quit running for six months in 2011, the year I first started running. I could see it being easy to take this foot issue as an excuse just to drop it yet again.
When I re-started running last year, after that six-month hiatus, it kind of sucked. I could only run about a mile at a time and that was frustrating because I wanted to go further. And I knew that I could have gone further had I not been a lazy bum for six months, so that made me angry with myself. At the same time, it’s when I re-started in December 2011/January 2012 that I think I really became a runner.
For one, in spite of how hard it was to start anew, I kept at it. The benefit of my experience from the year prior was knowing how quickly you can make gains if you just keep at it. And I did. I went from barely being able to run a single, slow mile to finishing my first, sub-30-minute 5K just a few months later. I went on last year to finish three 10Ks (two of them in under an hour) and my first half marathon. Not bad for the girl who had been sitting on her ass just 12 months prior.
These fitness gains added up to something else: I could finally start to keep up with some of my friends who were more experienced runners. And being able to run with friends opened up a whole new world of camaraderie. Instead of just talking about running with my runner friends, I got to experience running with them. (I also got a little spoiled. I now find it harder to get myself out to run alone like I’d done for months when I was starting.)
Unlike my 2011 running stint, my running experiences of 2012 seem to have sealed the runner in me. Running became less of something that I did and more something that I am. And my dreams have been reminding me of this every night. I know that I can’t give up something that I’m missing so much that my subconscious is filling in the blanks for me, right? I figure, if I don’t start running again – and running consistently – running will just haunt me in my dreams until I lace up.
My three weeks with Alice are almost up. Unless something unexpected happens, I intend to meet a friend at the high school track early Monday morning. I figured it was a good place to start. For one, I have someone to meet, so that will get me out of bed on time. Also, I won’t have to worry about keeping up on a track run like I would running through town with a group. Finally, I thought the softer surface of the track would be a good place to test my foot. If I still have any trouble, the track will be more forgiving than the roads.
So as much as I am not looking forward to how slow I’m likely to feel or to how short my initial runs will be, I can’t wait to get back out there, start re-building, and begin training for some races later this year.
But for the next three nights, I’m sure I’ll keep dreaming of running.