The Karma of Striders

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was out. The sky was blue. The air was crisp and the January thaw was on. Most, though not all (I’m looking at you City of Buffalo) of the sidewalks were passable. I got a solid night’s sleep and ate well yesterday. And yet …

I didn’t want to go for my run.

Actually, it’s not that I didn’t want to go. I just felt “meh.” I wasn’t overly excited to engage in my world but neither was I completely dreading and revolting against an easy-paced 5-mile run. Perhaps I caught a touch of ennui. But before I could think too much, I laced up my running kicks and headed out the front door. After the first mile, I adjusted my Garmin to display only distance, not my pace. Today was an “easy” day meaning running a comfortable pace, but I didn’t feel comfortable at all. No need to add judgement to the mix. Of course as soon as I stopped looking at my pace, I ran faster. Such is the contradiction of my running life.

Eventually I settled in and felt OK but not great. You know those easy days that don’t feel all that easy? That was me this morning. And as if that wasn’t difficult enough, my workout called for throwing in six striders at the end of the run.

What are striders you may ask? They are basically short sprints. Mine are just 75 meters or about half a block. The purpose of them is to help with your form and the rate at which your feet turnover. Well, that’s what my friend Sue, who is helping create my training plan, tells me the purpose is. Frankly I think the real purpose of striders is some sort of karmic retribution for pushing Erik Bernardi down in the driveway when we were in elementary school. But I do them anyway.

Six striders were all that separated me from my breakfast and a fresh pot of coffee. So I got down to business, wondering how many of the old school Polish grandparents in my neighborhood were staring out their windows wondering what the Jesus, Mary and Joseph I was doing running up and down the street.

But here’s the funny thing. As I mentally ticked off the striders, I started to feel good. Not good in the “Praise the Lord I am almost DONE!” kind of way but in the, “Hey this feels pretty darn good!” kind of way. I know. Go figure. The strides were challenging, don’t get me wrong. But I started smiling while doing them. Without even thinking about it. It took me over an hour to get to this point of truly believing in Yay! Running! but at the end I felt pleasantly balanced without any smidge of ennui.

I still have no idea why I was so ambivalent about going for my run today or why my easy run felt, well, not particularly easy. My heart told me to stay with it. Sometimes you don’t need to feel joy bursting out of the top of your head. Sometimes, you just need to stick with it, go with the flow, and trust that by showing up the best you can in that moment that all will be well.

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