What I learned on Valentine’s Day

I’m obviously a little late with this, as Valentine’s Day was over a week ago…but who doesn’t want to extend the love for another week, right? I’ve never celebrated the day in its traditional sense, but I sure had fun last year making running-inspired, styrofoam Sweethearts candy replicas and throwing around fake snow in the window while everyone else made dinner plans. I had no reason not to come up with an equally fun display this year, and so I took a few minutes to find an idea, and suddenly a glittery masterpiece was underway. You know that saying about being distracted by shiny things? That phrase is actually about me. I am instantly drawn to glittery and shiny things; they make me so excited. Anyway, for the first part of this post, please enjoy the following photos from my Valentine’s Day store window, 2014 edition:

First, I constructed a giant cardboard heart. The concept was an oversized card, or love note to running. I had no clue what I was going to write on it.

20140130_191013I miraculously cut it out:

20140130_212007…posed with it:

20140130_211159…and proceeded to write notes like, “Meghan’s heart – do not touch/break” because…well, I was already making a giant love note to running out of cardboard, there was no harm in furthering the corniness of the ordeal.

The result:

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20140131_19521120140131_195148For the record, these little scraps of confetti paper were way easier to clean up than the clingy styrofoam “snow” from last year! I’m not sure what to do with the giant “card” now, but I’ll figure something out….

…but back to what I learned

I learned more than the fact that our vacuum cleaner is so awful it doesn’t pick up loose glitter from a carpet. I learned a fundamental reason why I love running. As I mentioned in my last post, the week of Valentine’s Day wasn’t going so well. I was planning on doing a workout Wednesday night, and then I felt sick and needed to bail on that. Thursday it was dangerous to go outside with all the ice, snow, and wind, and I still felt kind of sick. I committed myself to getting up early Friday and doing a workout regardless of the road surface. That is, I was going to suck it up and join the rest of the world…on the treadmill. This was a huge deal for me. I hadn’t been on a treadmill other than to test shoes since 2008. I had never done a workout on a treadmill either. I was determined to have fun with it though; I was telling myself I’d get to play with the speed, I’d get to wear shorts and a tank top in the dead of winter for once, I’d get to listen to music. Things I normally don’t do. It would be fun (insert meme here?).

The plan: walk to the store. Get on the treadmill. Warm up two miles, switch into flats (another bonus point, I thought!). Run two miles at ~6:30, into one mile at ~7:00, into two more miles at 6:30. Cool down inside or outside. The warmup wasn’t too bad. I felt good and thought the hard segments would be fine. HOWEVER. I ran the hard two mile segment in around 13:10, with my pace faltering (meaning, I needed to hit the down arrow or I’d be at the back of the belt) as the end neared. I faced a mental battle, as well as a row of orange Nike shirts (the treadmill faces the wall now…). This was awful. How do so many people do this on a regular basis?! Props to all of you, seriously. Running on the treadmill takes a tougher person than running outside in the snow. I’m not sure if that is true or makes any sense, but that is what went through my mind that Friday morning. I jumped off after the two miles, feeling dizzy and dehydrated. I threw on a long sleeved shirt and gloves and ran outside.

I ran about four miles and loved every step of it, ice or not. The sun was as bright as it had been in days. The streets were slushy messes, but I felt so free. This was it, this is why I love running. No, I didn’t get in the rest of the workout. I wasn’t running a decent pace on this dangerous, uneven surface. But that was okay. Because for those four miles spent on the treadmill, especially those last two, I didn’t like running very much. I wasn’t having fun. I’m not saying I expect to have fun on every run, but I should at least feel like the run was my choice, and that I would rather be doing it than not. I didn’t feel that way on the treadmill, and the stark comparison of the post-treadmill run outdoors made me realize that I loved running in part because it makes me feel free.

When I run, I shatter the demeaning power of self-doubt and feel like my most confident self.

There’s no need to think of what others think of me when I run, because I’m doing what I enjoy most and that is all that matters in that moment. 

When I run, I can reach a mental and physical state not many others can understand, and that is something special.

I can run away from annoying things – whether they are people playing loud music, or taking up the entire sidewalk when they walk, or my own self feeling too tired to accomplish all I want to do, or thinking too much about one thing.

At one point, I realized I was wearing my favorite running shorts and shirt, like I planned it but I didn’t. I felt like I could run all day, conquering the world, at least my world, one street at a time. Eventually I headed back though, because I did have to work all day. What began as a bad experience with a treadmill, an overheated room, and legs that questioned my sanity for starting this thing in the first place ended with a renewed sense of passion for running…one could even say it was like the perfect Valentine’s date. 🙂

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