Why I Run Long…and boundaries

Me running down the boardwalk in Virginia Beach, VA
Written by: Andrew Ware
January 16, 2023

I love running (surprise right?)

I have been running since I was a kid (I mean who of us really hasn’t). I played soccer and baseball in the days of my youth and experienced running in a very trivial way through those sports.

However, my entry into competitive running did not come, officially, until high school.

I remember being active in my Naval JROTC Unit in high school and being one of the fastest legs of the 4x400m relay. I remember some of my friends and teammates thought that was a long distance, and thought I had just the right amount of stamina to do it.

However, very soon I would learn that it was not very long at all, nor did it come close to my aerobic (or even my anaerobic) abilities. 

My captain (JROTC Teacher/Leader) saw my passion for running and encouraged me to explore my joy for it more. He was the first one to encourage me to join cross country and track teams at the high school to improve my endurance and learn to run farther than I ever imagined I could.

Soon thereafter, my JV soccer coach made the same recommendation. I was always known to have good endurance, but I did not know how to control it particularly well. As a swimmer my aerobic and anaerobic thresholds were high, but as a sprint swimmer (50/100 Freestyle and 100 Butterfly specialties), I didn’t know how to maintain controlled speed over longer amounts of time.

The idea was that running could help to refine this art…at least that was the hope.

I was (and still am to a point) somewhat of a front-runner (though it is hard to front-run when you’re slower than the fastest runners). In saying that I name how I have always liked getting out quick and then settling down (outrunning the crowd up front).

Nowadays when I go out hard, I “might” settle into an easier pace (heavy emphasis on might). I am still in recovery now, as my current coach tries to help me understand how to perfectly execute a negative-split race (that is the second half is faster than the first).

My endurance (and ability to run longer) since joining cross country for the first time in 2004 has been the most joyous part of growing as a runner. This is not just because I can feel my legs getting stronger as I engage in these types of runs, but also because running is one of my top self-care practices and serves as a therapeutic time.

Whether I am running a solo long run or running it with a friend (as an extrovert, group running is crucial for me) these times on the run really keep me grounded.

Boundaries on the Run

On a long run (even the shortest of long runs I do around 7-8 miles) there is enough time for me to clear my head, have conversations (with myself or who I am running with), and really flood my brain with all that great serotonin my ADHD brain loves. However, as you can see it is not solely about running. I love running, but even if I am unable to run, I have learned the importance of having times in my life when I can unpack what is happening in my life. I need to do this both by myself and with those I am in a community with. 

Long runs, and really running in general, has emphasized the necessity of boundaries as a part of my self-care ritual. I have to create very intentional times when I will be unreachable. Long runs can last for me between 1-2 hrs maybe more if I ever decide to train for a marathon again (though let’s not move too quickly). Yes, I have my phone on my run (most times), but that is really more for safety reasons than anything. I will listen to podcasts, but I have started putting into a “fitness focus mode” that prevents all calls except those from my wife (that’s a pretty important one).

So my question is, how are you creating these spaces?

Do you have a place, a sabbath, a time, when you can get away, and either alone or with a specific community get away for a time of renewal and revitalization?

I am currently training for the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, so there will be lots of long runs. Lots of time to think and contemplate. Lots of opportunities to both reflect and decompress. Even the not-so-long runs will be opportunities as well. It takes about an hour to run 7 miles for me and that is a medium/long run and plenty of time to take in some thoughts. However, I will also create other boundaries that help me to find times of renewal as I go about the many other aspects that fill my life.

What are you doing to allow time to renew and reflect? 

Is it a long run? Meditation? An art project? A passion of yours? Or two you just go on a drive through your community or around the city/country?

Find that space, embrace it, and use it to help you grow and care for yourself.

Would love to hear your thoughts:

Where are your spaces of renewal and reflection? How are you setting boundaries to keep these spaces sacred in your self-care rituals?

Author

  • Andrew Ware

    My vision as the RunninRev is to build community and faith relationships through running and self-care. I have become an advocate in the church for clergy care, and helping clergy prevent or recover from burnout. I see my primary outreach to the community as building these communal structures through running and having fun together on the run.

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