Highs and Lows

High as a kite (runner’s high, that is)

Lately, my runs have been either really good, or crap-py.   It’s just one of the things that makes being a runner interesting.  Ya take the good with the bad.  

First, the good:  After losing a little ground with a cranky IT band, I was reeeeeally itching to get into the woods and have some fun.  It has been a while since I have been able to do some group runs, and I was THRILLED to be able to join some of my best buddies out on the trails for a great Memorial Day Weekend.

There is nothing better for the soul (in my humble, extremely biased opinion) as a day out in the woods.  Experiencing first hand the smell of the pine needles underfoot, damp soil from the rain, blooming flowers, bright greens of the grass contrasting against the dark bark of the surrounding trees…. it’s all amazing.  Being able to relax and take it all in…now that’s a perfect day.

Which brings me to the title of the post.  After 2 1/2 hours running through the woods last week, I was feeling extra good. Supremely, sublimely, beyond happy.  I felt ALIVE.  This? was a runner’s high.  I was on cloud 9.  No, scratch that.  Cloud 10.  I was way up there.  One of those days where you could go forever, and felt amazing after.  Ohh, if it could always be like that! 
I always feel better after a run, no matter how crappy the run might be (and believe me… some of them?  downright suck. badly. )  Somehow, no matter what the run was like, I am always better, happier, calmer afterward.  But every once in a while, a true high hits.  That invincible, “the world is my sneaker-clad oyster” feeling is impossible to duplicate (well… I assume.  I am not about to go out and score myself some heroin to do a comparison study.  I’ll stick to the trails, thanks.)

There has been a good amount of research that all points to the “truthiness” of the existence of the runner’s high.  PET scans of runners and other super fancy testing has shown that running truly does release endorphins…  which whiz about in our brain, attacking all of our happy places and making us quite the grinning, drugged-up bunch.  

Unfortunately, that high can beat feet the hell outta town after some runs.  Instead of feeling that “I’m the king of the world” (you know, that whole Titanic-before the boat sinks thing) feeling, some days leave you feeling like an overheated, overworked slug with sausages for calves. (Not that that was me Thursday.  And again Friday morning.  Ohhhh noooo… Ok, maybe. Ok, yes.). 
Seriously.  My legs?  felt like puffy ol’ overcooked hot dogs. 

Running certainly isn’t always going to feel great.  It’s not always going to be pretty.  But it’s always worth it to get out there and go.  Sometimes?  you even surprise yourself.  I was sure my race on Friday evening was going to be horrible (session #2 of a double session day in 90 degree weather.  W.T.F. New England.  Get your shit together.).  Instead?  I felt great, and improved my best time for that course by a couple of minutes.  Sweet!

Cruising a grassy downhill at Haley Farm, heading into the home stretch

 Don’t let a not-so-great day discourage you from carrying on.  Things always get better.  Let yourself be strong enough mentally and physically to overcome the “bad” – it is these days that we can often get the most out of.  Race day isn’t always going to be pretty.  So when the going gets tough, how will you react?  “Bad” training days teach us what we’re made of, and what we can do when things are going downhill (or uphill, as it may be).

On Saturday I head to Ithaca to take on the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50 mile.  This?  should be interesting.  I don’t feel as prepared as I would like….(said cranky IT band mucked up some of my training, and kept me out of the Soapstone Trail Race this year.  boo.)   but I’ll be there, ready to rock.  (or walk up hill, and trip and fall downhill.  whatever.  same thing.  totally rocking it.) 

Have a gander at the course map and profile.  Try not to faint.  I’ll be posting a little more about the race prep, and of course, a race report to come.

Oh. Dear.

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