Run happy: In which I absorb a lesson from Matt Fitzgerald

The blog’s been pretty serious lately, full of lots of weighty subjects: news and more news.

But I know what’s really been on everyone’s minds. You’ve all been wondering, just how the heck is that blogging guy’s plantar anyway?

I know, I know: a lot of stuff is going on. The election in France is underway, the presidential race is on in the U.S., Alberta is holding an important vote this evening. Your jobs are crazy, you’re all training like maniacs for your next big race.

And yet, you can hardly stay focused because you just have to know the latest on my plantar, and I haven’t written about it for so darn long.

Well, I’m glad you asked.

Things are finally looking up. On the weekend I did back-to-back runs for a total of 27 km. In the last nine weeks, it’s only the second time I’ve managed to enjoy consecutive running days – if “enjoy” is the right word.

Truth be told, it’s tough getting back to it. It’s not like I just sat around and stuffed my face with chocolate eclairs for nine weeks. I worked out on the spin bike three or four times a week, 60 to 90 minutes at a time, did weights and so forth. Nothing equates to running except running, though.

I ran easy both days. Saturday’s was one of those that stick with you for a long time. I ran with a friend, who after a winter of hard biathlon races is building base mostly in the fat-burning zone. His relaxed pace kept me from doing something boneheaded (almost always the first and most immediate thing I do, I can assure you) like charging out hard.

Instead, we loped around the 13 km route known as the St. Mary’s loop that covers a stone-crushed trail in Fredericton and runs alongside a tree-lined river. The scenery and conversation made up for the gray day.

Sunday’s run was a bit different. The weather forecast called for “light rain.” Four kilometres into our run, a drenching downpour came from the right and completely soaked me through to the skin. With the temperature sitting right at zero, stopping wasn’t an option. I’d tighten up and freeze. As it was, when I reached home, I immediately plunged myself into a hot bath, relieved to feel the heat spread through me and put a halt to my shivering.

Coming back is never easy. I’ve done it before. It takes time, perseverance and, mostly, a good attitude.

Author, magazine writer and marathoner Matt Fitzgerald wrote extensively about the role of happiness in running in his most recent book, Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running By Feel. He devoted an entire chapter to the role of enjoyment in running and titled it Run Happy. Fitzgerald writes, “Always trust that the more you enjoy your running, the better you will run.”

Sure, that sounds like a truism, but Fitzgerald backs it up with a lot of thought and data to arrive at that conclusion. Myself, I found out about happiness and running a couple of weekends ago as I tested my foot to see how everything felt.

It was while I was on the trail returning from the university farm, normally a route I love, that I discovered how quickly you can turn things around. I was about seven km in, way too overdressed, plodding along, out of breath – in short, looking like anything but a runner. Sweat soaked my clothing and I had that tunnel vision that occurs when you’re tired and just thinking about finishing.

Negative thoughts filled my head: what the hell was I doing? I’m hot, tired and not enjoying myself at all. This is just crap. And then, suddenly, it came to me that just hours ago I’d been whining about how I couldn’t run at all and how much I missed it, and here I was doing the very thing I’d wanted to do so badly.

I paused, stripped off my jacket, tied it around my waist, pushed up the sleeves of my shirt and set off again, this time with a much lighter step. By the time I hit the paved portion of the path, I was flying. I was running, running without thinking, without a care, just running, running, running for the love of it.

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About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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15 Responses to Run happy: In which I absorb a lesson from Matt Fitzgerald

  1. SeeAlliRun says:

    There’s no such thing as “light rain” in Atlantic Canada 😛

  2. Rob Jackson says:

    Nice. That’s all. Nice. Well, ok. It reminds me of my days of running in reduced-gravity zones. On those days, i feel like the persistence hunter, ready to run down ANY animal.

    • subthree says:

      And, now look at you: injury-recovered, I hope and ready to grab the jacket in Grande Digue again this weekend. I’ve thought about coming up just to run the course, but the competitor in me can’t stand the idea of not racing.

  3. Noortje says:

    I think you deserved a chocolate eclair! 🙂 Good to see you are on your way back!

    • subthree says:

      Ha. Actually, I’ll tell you a story about chocolate eclairs. When I was a young child I adored them. They were my favourite sweet – until I ate one in which the cream had gone bad. After three days of food poisoning, I never ate another. Sometimes I look longingly at them, but that’s about as close as I get. Thanks for reading.

  4. Rebekah says:

    Haha, I loved this post! It made me laugh out loud. I so firmly believe the Matt Fitzgerald non-truism. And I’m thrilled you’re feeling better!

  5. runningfarce says:

    This is an awesome post. Glad things are getting better for you. Motivating for sure – I know there are times where I take running for granted for sure. I also charge out way to hard when I’m increasing mileage in attempts to hurt myself beyond repair.

    • subthree says:

      Thank you. Yes, it’s easy after an injury to head back out and re-aggravate the problem out of sheer enthusiasm. I find it’s always harder to run slow than fast.

  6. It’s always so hard to come back but sounds like your doing pretty well!

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