Few things can clear the stress out of your head faster than going for a run. I enjoy running with friends, but I also cherish my alone time. It's time I can work out problems, get some time to myself, and decompress. 9.9 times out of 10 I come back from a run a happier, more productive person. That's a good deal for pretty much everyone!
2. The challenge
When everything inside you tells you that you can't do something, and you find a way to get it done anyways, that's success. Overcoming challenges comes in so many forms. Running a new distance, making it up a hill you always had to walk up before, signing up for a race and following through even though you immediately had buyer's remorse. Nothing feels better than meeting a challenge.
3. The sense of accomplishment
Often times I get hung up on the things I didn't do, and I forget to look at the accomplishments I had along the way. Sure I had a lousy foot injury for the better part of this year, but I did run two marathons (my first and second!) and I overcame my fear of road cycling, bought a bike, and completed my first triathlon. That's a pretty good year, I'd say.
4. Crappy weather
Seriously. I'll take a 20 degree run over 80 degrees any day of the week. Rain? Perfect, I love the feel of it on my face. I love to wonder what drivers think when they pass me in the pouring, freezing rain (like they did today). I don't even mind dodging the puddles in the road when the cars don't leave me enough space. Even when I complain about the crappy weather I still love it, because it reminds me of how badass runners can be. I still squawk about the time we ran the Boston Marathon course and it was so cold that all my water bottles froze and I started crying running up Heartbreak Hill, and some guy stopped to ask me if I was okay. It sucked at the time, but it's kind of fun looking back on it. And I'll never forget the time we ran a long run during a snow storm and were constantly passed by trucks spraying sand all over the streets and sandblasting our faces. That was an interesting 18 miles.
5. The people
If it wasn't for the people I have in my support system, I probably would have given up a long time ago. The running community is a powerful source of insight, opinions, and motivation. There have been plenty of times in the last couple years that I've become discouraged, mostly due to untimely injuries, but I have a great group of friends that always remind me that nothing is permanent and I'll be back at it in no time. Also, running friends give the best presents!
Because they know that after a long cold run, nothing warms you up like a hot cocoa with Kahlua and Bailey's.
Because who else would give such a practical gift as some 9mm ammo?
Because we went through some harsh stuff together in April and all came out okay.
Because they think of things like giving a snowflake necklace to signify the amount of snow we ran in together that helped bond us throughout last season's marathon training.
Because they get that this says it all: