Saturday, August 31, 2013


As I was out running today, I found myself looping around the elementary school that was the anchor point for my runs for about three years when I lived in that neighborhood. My legs are so used to carrying me around that block, it was as if I didn't consciously choose the route. Doing that loop got me thinking about my route routines. When I first starting running, there was a church about a mile and a half from my home. That church was the anchor point to my run. As I was teaching my body to run, I started by telling myself I just had to make it to the church, and then I could walk. I would make the wide circle around the church before plodding along back home. Eventually, I didn't have to take the walk breaks (as often) and started running further and longer. I almost always included that loop around the church somewhere in my route, because it just felt right. When I moved a few miles away, I was about a mile from the elementary school. Looping the large block that houses the school, playground, and soccer fields is less than a mile, but served as that anchor point to my runs, similar to the church.

My next series of moves kept me within similar distance to the school. As I gradually increased to training for full marathons, my runs grew longer. Where once my whole entire run consisted of running to the school, looping around it, and returning home, my loop eventually became something of a break, a respite to look forward to on my double-digit journeys. Having that familiar stretch of shady sidewalk to look forward to was somehow motivating and comforting at the same time. We recently moved and I have yet to find that anchor in our new location. 

Fortunately for me, our training program includes speedwork, which has many many loops, so there is no lack of looping in my running diet. Each week, I am extremely grateful to have people on my team running similar paces to me. The support that comes from falling into a perfect rhythm together has been extremely helpful in helping me focus on my pace. Feet slapping, arms swinging, breath huffing all in sync fuels teamwork and competition in tandem. I strive not to break the rhythm, to keep our perfect pace through the finish line. Once it's visible, there's always that little surge of competitiveness that wants to be the first to cross the line (or, on later laps, simply doesn't want to be the last across. I've heard time and again that you run your own race, don't worry about what other people are doing, but I would love nothing more than to carry that rhythm from our loops around the track to the miles of our half marathon in November. 

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