I am not sure if any of this will make any sense. My gut feeling is that this might strike a chord with some runners. Here goes.
We all like to run on nice sunny days in perfect conditions and through wonderful scenery. In some ways you could justifiably say "nothing could be better". All this is true but sometimes I think there is a place for a really hard run when the weather is horrible - perhaps it's cold, wet with driving rain and high winds.
I remember some runs in the past when my face has been blasted by icy rain and sleet. I have been wet through to the skin and the only thing keeping me warm is my on-going movement; if I had to stop for anything I'd instantly freeze. Once I remember having a little bit of a tumble and looking down at blood dribbling down my legs, mixed in with muddy water and into my socks. I can remember times when I have gone too far and I have been hurting all over.
A handful of times have seen me running around Stevenage in the dark, after work, in freezing conditions. The heavy traffic with its noise and spray seems to make running harder. Perhaps even worse is when you run against a traffic jam in those horrible conditions and people are watching you.
These are all important runs to me.
Stress, mental well-being
From time to time these hard runs are important mentally and for my well being. The importance often seems to be related to work and the stresses and strains which seem to crop up occasionally. Having a hard run seems to be a great way of overcoming those issues and simply rising above them. It's almost a case of "I don't care how unreasonable, stressful and awful it is at work, you won't break me. You can try as hard as you want but you won't beat me".
After a hard run, I invariably feel fantastic. Those problems are still there, running doesn't change that. The difference is being able to face those challenges, head-on and work through them one by one. Sometimes this means letting somethings go, dropping them, letting someone win the argument even though I believe they are still wrong. There are times when it's simply best to step back and allow someone else to feel a sense of victory and for me to know a sense of humility (even though I'm still right!). It goes without saying there are times when I might look back on my part in things and if I am honest with myself, I might need to say "sorry" or to put something right myself. This is about reconciliation and it's amazing how running can help make things clearer.
What's going on?
Naturally a hard run, of a decent length, will open the Runner's High tap. Mentally I feel good, sometimes absolutely on top of the world and unbeatable. The Runner's High is the release of those feel-good endorphins which bring that lovely feeling and can last for several hours.
Having a hard run is also an excellent way of keeping things in perspective, not allowing problems to become bigger than they really are. Isn't it easy for us to see our own problems as big problems?
For all of these reasons and many others, I need a hard run every now and again. It does me good. As I said right at the start, I'm not sure if this is going to make sense to anyone. Does it? Let me know.
What is the Runner's High?
Running to save my career