That overpowering, completely unwelcome, but character building friend seems to pop up every once in a while and ruin a perfect and marvelously planned day with it’s presence. To runners this frienemy is wind. With wind comes a love-hate relationship that honestly is mostly filled with hate and resentment. With every bitter step pushing through the colossal tension that is really simply air, a small portion of a runner’s brain is attempting, usually with failure, to encourage you with the meek thought that this will strengthen you both physically and mentally. This experience came to me on Sunday.
With days of built up excitement for my long run Sunday, the day finally came and as dressed in my favourite running attire of knee high socks and a quarter-zip shirt, I couldn’t wait to burst out of confinement. After a month of frustrating time off from marathon training as I recovered from an IT band injury, I had finally been able to slowly come back to running. While my runs are nothing as they were before my injury, I was perfectly content with the 30-40 minutes a day I had been allowing myself to do. However, as Sunday began approaching, I hyped myself up on the thrilling prospect of the world’s best day-the long run. While at this point in my recovery back to my original training meant only 50 minutes, I made the easy decision early in the week to go to my favourite training location Lemoine’s Point in my hometown of Kingston, Ontario. Lemoine’s Point is full of peaceful and beautiful lakefront trails that have served as a second home and escape to me. With the summer-esqe weather our usually drab city was receiving and the extinction of the swarms of may flies I had been swallowing and swatting out of my eyes lately, I built up a vision of 4:30 minute kilometers for 50 marvelous minutes through Lemoine’s. Come Sunday, without even bothering to check the weather, I got into my car, blasted country music and drove to the trails feeling completely alive.
With the first step, immediately that world shattering realization hit me and I was instantly filled with disappointment. I know, that sounds crazy. But if you’re a runner, you’ll understand. The wind collided against my face as if a Saint Bernard had just done a cannon ball on top of me from the trees above. By 10 steps in, I felt as though I was running in slow motion and was going nowhere fast. The worst part of these runs is when you attempt to blast past passerbys. Normally I exude confidence as I run past people walking towards me, however when the wind is pushing you, honestly you simply feel stupid. No better way to describe it. I’m the first person to not care what others think of me, especially when in the blissful state of running, however, in the moment when you’re giving everything you have and pushing harder than you would on a speed workout and moving no where, you can’t help but feel like a fool. Regardless, I propelled my lifeless legs past the open waterfront stretch and ecstatically reached the tree-lined trails. At last I was somewhat protected by the thin layers of leaves and branches keeping away by mortal running nemesis.
Despite the protection of the trees, which I stuck within for the remainder of my workout, the wind managed to snake its way through and subtly destroy the visions of my fast times. However, I quickly got over my short-lived dreams of a fast workout and focused my mind towards positive thoughts. As I reached the parking lot, the oh-so familiar feeling of endorphins struck me. The wind that I was sure would demolish any feeling of happiness was no longer relevant. Perhaps the wind was a gift that slowed me down and kept my IT band from flaring up, as I had absent-mindedly failed to stretch and foam roll prior to the run. Or maybe it was simply a reminder in the midst of disappointment from a training offset that, while training and racing are extremely fulfilling, we all began running because of the feeling it brings us. The joy, the clarity and the peace. Sometimes we just need reminders of those feelings in order to appreciate how lucky we are to be able to take part in the simple and meditative act of putting one foot in front of the other. I know in our bitter states it’s hard to give the wind credit for anything, but on those days when you walk outside and are struck by an unwelcome gust, don’t attempt to keep your times and do a hard workout, because you wont. Simply appreciate running and all it has to offer. That is what the wind is trying to remind you of.