Although I have re-kindled my love of open water swimming this Summer (read here) running remains this strange obsession, like something I can't live without and something I often go to sleep thinking about or looking forward to it.
I have been running for about 10 months now and I am truly reaping the benefits of regular running. I have never felt so fit, so energetic, so well and so toned. I don't run in order to feel better the rest of the time, I run because I enjoy *doing* running and enjoy the way I feel afterwards. I run because it makes life good, it gives me thinking space and time out from thinking. It helps me function properly. I have a fairly poor attention span and soon give up on things which don't give me enjoyment; I am not driven by results if I am not enjoying what I am doing to get results.
I have watched quite a few friends take up running this year and it seems clear to me that a few of them haven't enjoyed running, but keep at it for the fitness/weight loss benefits. I really couldn't do this, I have learnt from my own experiences with trying other activities on my journey to fitness, that I need to feel the endorphins flowing and the activity needs to make me happy, or I will simply quit.
I conclude from this, quite simply, that I am a runner! I am not the fastest, nor the fittest, nor am I competitive and I have yet to enter any running events/races. But running is part of me, it makes me happy, it makes me feel good and I couldn't contemplate (ever!) not running. I have tried to compare it to open water swimming, but I can't. Swimming is something which makes me feel like an adrenalin junkie after a big adrenalin hit. I would feel exhausted if I did it all the time, the the times I do it are fabulous and I spend a lot of time afterwards revisiting my swim, re-living it and loving every moment again. I don't swim over the winter (with the exception of pool swimming which doesn't count!), and I can see for some people who swim in open water year round, they *need* to swim, just as I *need* to run. I LOVE swimming, I really do. But running is what I do.
So as the Spring has changed to Summer, I have run through many more weather extremes as the temperature has risen. I have taken to the hot Summer runs rather well. I struggled with my hydration at first, and suffered from headaches as a result of dehydration, which lasted all day, and sometimes left me feeling like I had a hangover if I had run in the evening. But I have learnt more about my body's needs now and I have acclimatised over the last few months and I love running in the heat, it makes me feel well oiled and strong. Since the end of June, the temperature has been very high, so I have limited my running distances to 5 miles, to ensure I don't dehydrate. I carry water with me, but I am not great at drinking it and I have no desire to carry a large bottle (I use a 250ml bottle), so a 5 mile run means I can stay on top of dehydration. I am running three times per week on a regular basis and I am close to running 50 miles this month, which I have been trying to reach since March. (It's the last day of July today, and my mileage is at 46.4miles. So if I do a 4.6 mile run tonight, I will have reached my 50 mile per month target at long last!) So my shorter distances haven't affected the amount of miles I have been covering. If anything, I feel stronger for doing shorter, more regular runs.
I did manage to cover a 9 mile distance though before the weather for really warm. I still have 10 miles in my sights, and I am hoping I will be able to up my distance again quite easily once things cool down and I am not sweating quite as much!
I bought a pair of Xero shoes last month too, which are very much minimalist/barefoot/barely there shoes and hugely encourage natural foot placement. I have yet to run in them - in fact not sure I will as I am still working on getting them secure enough on my feet. But I practically live in them the rest of the time and I may attempt a beach run in them while we are away. So, I am still waxing lyrical about barefoot running to anyone who might care to listen although I tend to think less about my technique these days (good? Bad? Not sure!)