Tale of 9 Runs: I ran 15 miles, I got assalted, my face hurts, and it's your fault!

I just ran 15 miles.  True story.  It feels awesome.  I want to do more.  I set out today to just run, nothing else.  No clock, no distance tracking (till after), just me, my body and my music (ok, some Honey Stinger energy chews and $5 to buy a drink along the way).  But today was just me and the road and I totally rocked it.

I had a mental breakthrough this week (as opposed to a breakdown which people keep asking every time I tell them what I've been up to). As I mentioned in this post, I've been reading Christopher McDougall's Born to Run and it's been giving me ideas.  I'm still only about half way through it, but something seriously clicked during one section of it.  In one part, McDougall talks about a major element of the ultramarathoners and in particular, the Tarahumara, is their happiness.  They are happy when running.  Smiling, happy go-lucky, and joyous.  Hearing about this made me go back to a previous post that I written about with regard to emotional states while running.

It all fell into place in a serene way.  Much of my exercise in the past had been a fight with my weight, a fight with my appearance, a fight with emotions, or just trying to channel the negative emotions I've had in my life.  But this run and much of my running in the last year has been different.  It's not running at things; it's running with things.  It's running against something; it's running for something.  And that "something" is happiness.

I know that last sentence sounds like something out of the hippy-guide to living life.  But reframing running as a source of happiness is the fundamental intellectual shift of the last year for me.  It's what's broken down all barriers to running and turned it into something I desire, yearn, and welcome.  I had tried running in the past, numerous times.  I got a sense of achievement when done.  But when finished, I was glad it's over.  Now, there's a tinge of sadness when I'm done.  It's an epic win.  Excitement, enthusiasm, and just a bit of disappointment that it's over; and the wonder of how soon you can battle the next big boss.

So I took what McDougall said and I added a few elements to it.  First, I visualized my run.  I kept thinking about the route (roughly), the state of mind, the emotions, and most importantly, reminding myself that as I hit the harder parts of the run, to remind myself that I am enjoying this.  There may be pain, there may be fatigue, but there is indeed fun to be had.  But on the day prior to the run and the morning of the run, I focused on two particular items.

1.  I fueled my mind with happy thoughts.  

Seriously.  Different research shows that states of mind can fuel how we experience certain moments.  If chockful of a positive emotion and thoughts, it's bound to beneficially blend or leak over into whatever is currently you're involved in.  I experience this with audiobooks, where some happy moments (not even necessarily epic, but just moments of recognizing the great things in my life) are intertwined with audiobooks that I'm listening to in that particular moment.  Even if I intellectually don't like the book, I still enjoyed listening to it, in part because it's connected to a happy moment.  Similarly, as I engaged in the run, I started a mental slideshow of happy moments, big and small.  This lead me through a range of moments shared with friends, family, loved ones, acquaintances, and even random strangers.  Each thought pushing me one step further.  (This is why I am blaming this on you people--you took part in my accomplishment, even if you didn't realize it).

2.  I smiled, a lot.  

Again, I'm further intrigued by how the body and mind work together (or against each other).  But in this instance, I have heard much about how if the body does it, the mind will follow.  In particular, I've read several places now about how the smile can nudge one into a state of happiness.  So I smiled throughout the run.  I tried to make sure there was always a smile upon my face as I ran and every time I caught myself not smiling, one would instantly appear.  Thus why my face hurts from all that smiling.  It also served as a good focus point during the run.  Focus on the smile, not on the mile.

I remember when I first go into running and a friend said to me, "I could never do it--runners always look so miserable, why would I want to do that?"  This stuck in my head as I smiled through my run because I also realized I wanted people to know that yes, I was having fun.  Despite never having liked running, I now find it an absolute delight.  Go figure.

As for the "got assalted" in the title--ok, that was a joke and not a typo.  By the time, I finished today's run, I had white granules of salt on my arms.  Hence, I got "assalted."

So there it is.  15 miles in just under 3 hours (about 2 hours, 50 minutes, I think) and a whole lot of happiness on those miles trekked.

Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  1. you say you smiled...but did you also bust out laughing at random slides during your slideshow? that would be truly awesome... i could think of a few slides that would bring me to that state of hilarity..

  2. there were definitely a few chucks and chortles...nothing to make me laugh outrageously though :)


Post a Comment