running guilt, running high, running chicago

runners guilt creeps in on the days i don’t get up and run as early as some of the other runners in my neighborhood. my kitchen window faces the parkway of the community where i live. i see, bobbing over the brick wall that separates my back yard from the sidewalk, the heads of my neighbors as they run before i run in the morning.  i know them by their cadence and have nicknames for them all. sometimes, if i’m just drinking my coffee in my white “day-gone” robe (so named by my husband who says if i wear it too long the entire day is gone) i may curse quietly at them as they run by. i feel guilty and inferior and just lazy. i feel this way even if i’m going running later that morning. on saturday mornings when i’m driving my kids to their all-day soccer matches, i drive by the starbucks where my running groups meets after their long runs and i sometimes see them there. sweaty, tired, smiling, accomplished. i hate them. i curse them, not so quietly, and i feel that guilt again. it’s irrational, i realize. i missed an entire season of soccer matches due to my saturday long runs while training for chicago in 2012. i also missed parties and lazy morning pancakes and sweet cuddles from my kiddos in bed. i missed sleep and late nights watching movies and drinking wine. but i didn’t miss the guilt. and i don’t feel guilty about that. does that make me a bad mom? maybe.

my non-runner friends often ask me about the “runners high” and if i get it every time i run. i’m sure they think i leap out of bed, excited to hit the road and push my pace. most of them think i sprint the whole way, and all of them are surprised when i tell them that, for me, the high comes after the run. a few times i’ve definitely felt it towards the end of a long run. counting up to double digits and back down to singles is a rush, for sure.  sometimes that high will last all day. i know it’s only running, but the feeling of accomplishment- the power to tell my brain to shut the fuck up and force my body to keep going- well, that’s its’ own high.i prefer endorphins to dopamine and this is where i get my fix. even after a bad run when i’m looking for the easiest route home or avoiding hills or my pace was so slow i hoped no one i knew drove past me- even those leave me feeling accomplished. getting out the door is the hardest part. i never leap out of bed, excited to run. i convince myself to go every.single.time.

i am running chicago this year. i plan to train smarter and harder and get a better finishers photo.

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