Do you ever just play?
That’s what I did today. I drove to a nearby state park that makes me feel like I’m up north, found the trail head and jumped onto the nearest trail. I didn’t have a map and didn’t know how long it was (not always the best idea, but I have a decent understanding of the layout of the park).
And so I ran on the snow-covered mountain bike trails. I jumped over logs, flew down hills and pushed up them. Although it was my only second run back after two weeks off, I felt stronger than I have in a while. I was free.
That’s what I’ve been looking for; that’s why I took a break.
During that time off, I realized I’ve been so keen on achieving goals (running a 3:30 marathon) and fearing I wasn’t achieving enough that I dug myself into a hole I couldn’t get out of.
Running is supposed to be freedom, not a burden. The process is what matters. The process has to be full of joy to keep it sustainable.
I have big goals in this sport, but in the end it’s just running. And I do it because I love it.