Recently, I've felt like the spirit of Jean-Paul Sartre has jumped on my back and insisted that I carry him on all my runs while he reads Being and Nothingness to me. The busy season at work hit right as the busy season for baby planning got into full swing, and my life has gotten crazy. Granted, I know that once the baby arrives it will be worse, but I just can't wait way. I'm too excited for words. Frightened out of my mind as well, but I am still excited. Luckily, I have managed to keep up with running and working out over the summer, but it has started to wear on me. I won't lie it has been difficult at times, but Running is important to me, so I've made sacrifices and been flexible. I've run in the evenings despite brutal heat, I've switched rest days, and I done cross training at lunch so I could sleep in and give my body rest following long nights of baby shower planning, Bradley classes, and moving. I even switched gyms to the University gym where I work rather than the Y because it is more convenient (and cheaper). However, running without a major race on the horizon has gotten increasingly difficult. I've start to ask myself does it really matter if I skip a day or if I don't hit 20 miles for the week. I feel like I'm being visit by the spirits of dead French existentialists, who want me to feel nothing and embrace pointlessness of my Sisyphean toil.
They know that I would love nothing more to run a Half Marathon this fall, but with the unknown arrival time of my son looming, it is just not a real option. The spirits of these dead French intellectuals noticed recently that despite my desire to run and exercise being present, my spark was noticeably lacking. I am just pushing rocks up a hill knowing that they're going to roll back down. Damn You Camus!!! I have gotten tired of running in the same places, covering the same ground, and efforts to change things up haven't seem to help. Sartre just keeps jabbering away in my ear with each step I take! I think he wants me to wear a beret.
However, changing gyms seemed to really help reignite my workouts. I enjoyed walking into the campus gym and thinking about all the different ways I could change my workouts or make my current workouts fit in this new place, and I found myself eagerly anticipating my next workout. The French Philosophers didn't have membership cards so I was able to leave them at the door as they began to talk about Jacques Derrida behind his back. The effect changing gyms had on me got me thinking about what I could to help my running. I thought about doing track workouts, but the track is really where I go to alleviate boredom, plus I have been trying to incorporate sprints into my cross training, so the track didn't seem like the answer. I thought about going to different parks and tried changing routes, but it just wasn't working. I mixed up my music, tried running without music but that just invited Sartre to being talking to me about his life with Simone de Beauvoir, which just got weird! My spark just wasn't there. I blamed the heat. I blame the heat for everything, but on days when it was cool, still no spark, no fire, no passion, I was running because that's what I do. In my head I was screaming damn it . . . I am Sisyphus!
I was beginning to resign myself to my running life turning into a feeling-less Prozac-esque haze until, I could start training for my next big race, but luckily the answer hit me on my way to Umstead on Sunday . . .Trails! I should run trails! I love running trails. Trails were where my passion for running was born and that is where I knew that I would find it again. So, instead of heading to the airport entrance to Umstead, I pulled my car in the the main parking lot where several trail heads are located and hit the old Company Mill Trail.
Hello Spark! I was in love again. I could see vivid color and the Existential nihilism that was threatening to take over my running was gone! I kicked Sartre in the teeth as I ran along side of a rain swollen stream, I chucked Camus into oblivion as I hurdled a fallen tree that blocked the path. Halfway though my run I felt like scream that I wasn't going to wear their stinking beret because I got my spark back and the fire was burning bright! Trails were my answer. I hadn't been running trails because I was afraid of getting injured before a race. But, with no major races upcoming, trails were once again an option. I love the level of concentrations that running trails require. I need to focus on the ground in front of me that it was easy to ignore the whispers, shouts, and cries of all the long dead French philosophers questioning my reason for running. The trails were my salvation, and I just enjoyed my run with a peace that has been lacking for the last few months.