Nathan Yanko

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Return To Running Happy


By Nathan Yanko

Photos By Drymax and Devon Crosby-Helms

When I began running back in high school I found a sense of freedom and joy I have only been able to find while being in the woods.  I was able to clear my mind, work through problems, and simply relax.  I would go to my school classes and think about getting back out to the trails.  It was a way for me to feel healthy, socialize with people on my team if I wanted or find the solitude that I occasionally needed.  It made me happy and helped balance me.


Over the last year I have not been happy with running.  Most of my runs felt like a chore, and I didn’t look forward to getting out for long runs.  Although, I had no interest in racing I would still find myself toeing the line every once in a while.  I wasn’t enjoying it though.  I look back over the last year and even two years and see that I ran myself into the ground.  Running at some point became something I had to do as opposed to something that I wanted to do. 

I have felt like there is so much pressure to get out and log more miles each weekend, and be ready to go out and push my body to extremes.  I needed to increase my odds from some random person’s online poll, which ultimately doesn’t matter.  I was supposed to log 100+ miles a week or I wasn’t training enough.  In retrospect I know all of this is ridiculous, but at the time all I could think was I needed to keep pushing.

At one point after months of trying to push through the slog of running I was doing, I decided to pull out of all the races I had on my calendar and stop wearing a watch.  I didn’t write out a running schedule, didn’t think about my pace or splits, and ran when and what I wanted to.  Very quickly I started to smile a little more on my runs.  However I still wasn’t totally excited about running.  I kept with my plan of removing myself from feeling the requirement to run and just ran when I wanted to and with no purpose.

I’m still not 100% back to running happy and free.  However, I do wake-up in the morning and think “yeah, I want to go on a run now”, and my watch tan-line has long faded away.   I look forward to most of my runs but I am also not concerned or feel weak if I decide to cut a run short.  Ultimately I am working on being happy with my running and getting back to the roots of why I run.  It really feels like an ultra, and I just keep telling myself: “one step at a time”.


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