When you do a lot of running you tend to find company – good company and you can cover a whole lot of subject matter over the miles. The other day, one of my very best running buddies posed the question, what makes a really good run? She posed it rhetorically of course, because she’s wise and awesome and of course, already had her answer. She went on to explain via one she enjoyed the most but was nothing to do with pace or racing.
It was about perfect weather. It was easy and great company (yay! I was there). It was her furthest, not fastest, distance. But most of all she finished the run feeling she could go on (it was about 16 miles).
This made me smile. And think. It’s easy to think sometimes the best runs are PB(R)s or races or times when you fly – but it isn’t always, they are often great results but tough runs that you don’t enjoy actually running at the time. I decided to flick back through my last year in Strava (that’s about 300 runs) and pick out my best 10 based on this criteria and why (in no particular order):
- My run for a break from unpacking our shipment
Moving to Ohio was the 3rd time I’d moved my entire home across continents in 5 years. I’m kind of good at it now but its also something that batters you emotionally even if you don’t realise it at the time. I also set myself I challenge to get all boxes unpacked before the packers leave. I’ve achieved this everytime – up to 229 boxes. (I’m fiendish). This time for my break, I went for a short run. I ran off tension, fear, stress, sadness. I ran in optimism, happiness and an overall better attitude. I loved that run
In a nutshell: THERAPY
2. My 4 (5!) mile LTP training run for the Flying Pig with Sally, Kate & Sarah
Here in Ohio, I run with several groups of people. There is one group of girls who are basically the human equivalent of racehorses (in REALLY sassy shorts). Sally ran the Indy Marathon last year in 3:22 (for real). Yes, these gals are scary, but they are also the most lovely supportive and inspiring bunch you ever might come across. I was scared for this run. I psyched up for it for days. I fuelled it/planned it/respected it. We ran at 5am in the dark, in the dead of Ohio winter. There I was like Madonna with awesome over-qualified bodyguards. Bodyguards telling me I was awesome, calling out paces and telling me their back stories. I ran fast that day and it felt amazing. I get faster every time I run with these girls. I can’t do it everyday – but when I do I’m always glad I did.
In a nutshell: INSPIRATIONAL SUPPORT
3. Boxing Day beasting with Hook Runners
Hook Runners is my UK running club. At Christmas 2017, I ran with them many times and loved every single one. There was one that stands out. One that made me nostalgic for when that club started, an honour I happened to be there for. I’ve never met a runner I didn’t like and I love all my Hookers, but this run had a high concentration of some of the ones I love the most. We pushed pace a bit, it was sunny, the countryside was gorgeous. We sang Spice Girls up hills and messed about taking selfies at the end. It was a moment I knew I was home.
In a nutshell: REALLY GREAT MATES
4. My “on tour” 17 miler in Nashville
I tend to get around (in the nicest possible way). I’m also evangelical about running plans, so whenever we go somewhere on a trip, I run. My favourite of all these is Nashville. On this day, I inadvertently ran into the path (both directions ultimately) of a half marathon. I think I absorbed race endorphins by osmosis but also got to enjoy that atmosphere with no pressure at all.
In a nutshell: NEW TURF (Special mention for same reasons: Chicago with Colin, running alongside the Scioto river in Columbus and discovering that Venice Beach was possibly more crime watch than Baywatch)
- The 22.3 miles in training for Columbus
This was the furthest I’d run in training, but like my wise friend said, I felt I could run forever. It was sunny. For most of the run I was with my mate Kelly, who it is basically impossible to run alongside and not feel energised. At 19 miles I passed by the car park start point for my training group. I was in a delirious state and spent about 3 minutes trying to put a gatorade lid on my water bottle. But I went on and did 3 more miles and by golly did that feel good.
In a nutshell: THE RUN THAT LETS YOU KNOW YOU’VE GOT THIS
- All summer track sessions with (now known as) Cin City
If any of my Brit friends were to see the Mason Track, I’m pretty certain they’d think of Grease (the film). It’s my happy place. Most Wednesday evenings last summer I ran work outs on this track. The beauty of it is you can run alongside any speed of runner and never be too far away from them. This is where you get to see how fast sub 3 marathoners can go, whilst never being much further than 200m from them. The best thing about track for me though, is its like playing, racing, pushing speed at your top end – and it’s different than just going really far. And always in some sweet way, I’m Sandy and my chills are multiplyin’.
In a nutshell: RUNNING THAT STRETCHES YOU IN DIFFERENT WAYS (Anthony Holman’s plank challenges notwithstanding)
- The Market to Market Relay
This was a race, but with a difference. I did it with a team of 7 where we took turns to run sections of a paved trail from Milford to Dayton (76 miles). I ran 12.2 miles in total over 3 runs, all of which at virtual PB pace. Now, normally running that pace would be agony and race conditions terrifying, but on this day it was not. The running was effortless, the scenery gorgeous, the company awesome. This was really special.
In a nutshell: THE EXTRAORDINARY
- My last handicap run with Hook Runners
Every month my UK running club run a 3.6 mile handicap run – 2 laps around the village with start times staggered to reflect pace – bringing everyone in at near enough the same time. Of course this is sort of race conditions, thus terrifying. On the 6th April 2017 however, I ran my last one before moving to America 2 days later. I wanted a PB. My mate Neil, (one of the most extraordinarily awesome humans I know) offered to pace me round. The whole way he recounted in a way only he can, a story of where he’d been threatened with tennis racquet for trying to fix something at a posh health club. I didn’t (couldn’t) speak on that run but I laughed. I got my PB without even really realising I’d run it.
In a nutshell: BEAUTIFULLY EFFORTLESS RUNNING
- My 14 mile medium long run last week
For this, I’ve picked a run, but what I mean is any run where the world takes your breath away. I think runners get plenty of chances at this, getting up early, going places you might not go to get the miles. I mean, sunrises, sunsets, views, nature at its finest. On this run last week, I’d been going for 11 miles (just under 2 hours) in pitch darkness. Then, whilst running around a lake, the sun rose. And it rose with swagger. I’ve got chills just thinking about it.
In a nutshell: LIFE AFFIRMING SCENERY
- Any run with LeeAnn Mueller
I’m dedicating this last one to the gal who inspired the post, who just happens to be the one I run with … err the most (no rhyme intended). This lady is funny, (whiny), clever, entertaining (she recounts whole scenes of The Breakfast Club) and always up for a stupid selfie. I first ran with her on June 20th 2017 and have done pretty much on a weekly basis ever since. We moan about most of our runs at the time but… *whispers… I love them all .. and her.
In a nutshell: FINDING FRIENDS FOR LIFE
I love running. A day with a run is a better day. I never met a runner I didn’t like.