You guys, big things are happening in my running world. Obviously, this has nothing to do with signing up for a marathon or even a half marathon. Not even a 10-miler or 10k. It certainly has nothing to do with running fast, far or setting a PR.
The big news is actually not big news at all. But it’s important news. Smart news. Proof of my attempt to be more “intelligent” as a runner. I’ve been foam rolling, and it’s actually been helping me to feel stronger, or at least to avoid any pain that prevents me from my daily morning run.
I tend to ramp up the number of mornings I run during the fall, simply because it’s tough to resist the crispy, delicious air. (Mind you, I take the term “ramp up” lightly; I typically run 4-5 mornings a week. Since September started, I’ve been logging 5 miles just about 5-6 days.)
I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but an extra morning a week actually has a two-fold effect. For one, it means I’m running another day, logging another 3-5 miles. But perhaps more importantly, it also means that I’m not doing some other form of complementary or restorative exercise, like cross-training or Pilates or yoga. While I often have difficulty replacing my morning run with any other form of exercise, it’s even harder during the fall — and that’s where foam rolling becomes even more important. Without it, I’d be a piriformis syndrome-induced mess. Let’s not forget that it’s kept me off the roads for a month or more before.
After struggling to find my groove last week, I had a string of pretty great morning runs all throughout this past one. Between Monday and Friday, I logged four five-mile mornings for a total of 20. In between, I submitted to a 45-minute core strength workout type of morning. It was kind of boring, but presumably necessary. As runners, it’s easy to forget about the muscles that fuel us from the start to finish of our journeys. We have to pay attention to those too.
While most of my runs took me to Central Park and home…
…I also managed to squeeze in a High Line adventure. It’s strange being there for the first time this season, the leaves and petals on all of the once-beautiful and fully bloomed flowers now dry, crispy and dead. Even that is kind of nice to see. Not only is it a change of scenery, but they mark the end of one part of the year and life and the start of another. I’m excited for what’s to come.
There’s another part of the city, on my daily morning runs, that I use to measure the time of the year too; it’s this spot on the west side of the lower loop of Central Park, just as you’re approaching the top of the (relatively) small hill. The trees here form a canopy over the road, and peeking out from behind them are the tall buildings that define the Manhattan skyline. During the summer, the buildings struggle to make their presence known. And yet as we approach this time of the year, we begin to see them reemerge. It’s a really beautiful cycle, and it’s one of the many reasons that I enjoy the monotony of the routes I travel.
With the near-perfect weather, I imagine that this weekend will bring more runs. Just a few weeks ago, I mentioned that Noah would be running the Bronx 10-Miler, and that I was considering tagging along too.
But the truth is that, while I could probably finish it in a reasonable amount of time, I don’t necessarily feel like waking up early, stuffing my face with muffins, struggling to “get things going” before the sun comes up, and being forced to run a specific distance on specific roads surrounded by people.
This week brought out the lonely runner in me again, primarily because while I’ve really come to genuinely enjoy some of the mornings spent with friends and family on the road, fall is the perfect reminder of what running provides me and why I love it so much.
The silence. The solitude. The serenity of all that surrounds.
Yea, I think I’ll enjoy that for now. And when the time comes for another race — and I really feel as though my heart’s really in it — then I’ll pull the trigger and sign up.
What mode of running are you in right now? Do the seasons affect how you feel about your runs?