Yesterday was my second run.
It was a short one, just shy of 4km. I took the old route of my neighbourhood. What I like about running in my neighbourhood is the abundance of inclines of varying levels, always a good workout no matter how short your run is. I was careful about running downhill, taking my time to slow it to a light jog. Definitely no ego about slowing down there. I kept to my pace and sometimes surged during uphill runs - those are the best.
After running with 'running aids' for so long I was soo grateful for being able to run without any at all. Pre-recovery, I would have to run with the patella stabilizer on both knees, with deep heat rubbed in and permeated through the pants, and the tub stuffed somewhere in my pockets. But yesterday it was just my running attire and me. It felt like I was a kid again, walking everywhere to my friend's house, the kedai runcit, the playground to play. It definitely did not feel like an exercise.
I have made an important decision regarding my races. I want to stop being competitive. The top 2 goals for most people when they join races are:
a) to finish, or
b) to finish faster
Before this, when I first started, I was caught up with the need to be faster. It's only natural, everybody is competitive, especially when it is about a race. The need to become better has consumed the fun I wanted out of a run. I was never able to make training run fun. It was only fun if I managed to break my record, or completed my targetted mileage. Although it was hugely satisfying I can't remember doing this when I was in school. Competing with myself took a lot out of me.
So, I am reverting back to why I join races in the first place - so I could just run regularly. My goal from now on would be to just finish the race, no matter what the time is. If I was injured and could not finish, then be it. If I got myself a medal, all the better. I would not pressure myself to run within the specified time, or go crazy over missed running days. I would not bother myself with thoughts of being underprepared or overprepared - I would just run the race, regardless. If I had to be sweeped off by the sweeper bus, I'd enjoy the ride. I want to feel happy and satisfied by just running in a race, not deflated because I missed my chance to make a PB.
My inspiration for this would be my father. We have been running partners for years. When I was 17, we would wake up at the crack of dawn and run at the park, no goals no target nothing but just running. Then last year I started to run 'seriously' and he continued on his ways. My dad runs because he can, and he loves it, and well, it gives him something do to in the morning. If it was raining straight for 3 days and he couldn't run, he would not be in despair. He would tool and toil in the garden, working himself to a sweat. When he runs he has no idea where he is going, making up the route as he goes along. Only recently I noticed the change in him when I persuaded him to join for races. He became competitive and suddenly all his running did not have any 'quality'. He felt pressured to run faster and harder. He began to plan his run and would feel bad if he couldn't fit in a hill run, fearing lack of practice for the next one. He became me. One day he turned to me and said, "I am done in this racing business. Maybe I just want to run."
So me and him would be doing the Energizer Night Race for 10km. And this time around it was way different than it was for Mizuno 10k and Malakoff 12k. This time we did not 'train', but we run instead. He has stopped being obsessive. He did not push himself, sometimes not running for days on end, working on his garden. Slowly, I saw him being himself again, enjoying running with his buddies, making the time to wait for other slow runners. He still runs at a faster pace than me though.
There are a lot of things I wish. I wish I could run a marathon, or have the guts to compete with myself. But I was never an athlete. I am just someone who likes running. I enjoy running without a watch, or with it. I enjoy running towards the finishing line, or towards the direction of my house. I like it all, the pounding of the pavement, camarederie of other runners, or the silence of the sleeping houses.
This is how I want to enjoy my run, as you do yours, and I'm very sure all of us are happy with our choices :) May all of us, like Kash said, get a good running workout, whatever our goals are!