Do you ever get overwhelmed by the amount of noise that has infiltrated our world? Cars, sirens, dumpsters banging as they’re emptied behind the store next to your house, alarms, tv, the radio, beeps and chimes of household appliances and of course, if you’re a mother or father, the laughs, cries, shouts, orders and complaints issued by the little people at your feet. SO MUCH NOISE ALL DAY LONG. And then the husband walks in the door after you’ve just gotten the kiddos settled for dinner and instead of drinking in the quiet he fires up the juke box.
I am not an introvert by any stretch of the imagination. I am a people person that thrives on friendships and “going and doing”. But even someone as outgoing as myself needs a little peace and quiet sometimes. I used to find that quiet place in my running, but as my family has evolved and schedules have become tight, I’ve been forced to the treadmill time and time again and there is no quiet there. My runs at the gym are encompassed by a wall of TVs flashing lights and images too quick for the brain to process. People are chatting, grunting as they drop weights to the floor and moaning as they attempt to squeeze in that one last push-up. Sometimes it’s all great motivation and I do enjoy a good gym sesh here and there, but most of the time I just blare my music to drown out the surrounding commotion.
Louder noise to drown out the loud noise. Makes perfect sense.
Since I’ve been banished to the treadmill so often, my focus changed to speed work and getting faster. It’s too boring to take long, enjoyable runs on a machine that takes you nowhere. So, add in the beeps of my watch alarm and the constant glaring at the numbers staring back at me, mixed in with the voice in my head, “Push it harder. Ok, now hold back and kick it at the end.”
Stop the madness!
Slowly, but surely, my runs strayed away from the whole reason I became a runner in the first place – running because I loved it. They became another task to cross of the “to -do” list. While I was always glad to be running and happy to improve my times, I missed (without realizing it) the quiet, peaceful runs that I can only find out in nature. Sadly, trails don’t have childcare, so I stuck with old faithful and counted down the days to our beach vacation when I could take advantage of stepping out of the gym and onto the beach for a salty and sweaty run every day for a week. Awww…
Vacation came. I got sick. Like, sick sick. No running happened then or for 2 weeks after returning. Once I was healthy enough to engage the quads again, it was back to the treadmill and I realized, quite frankly, that my running had taken a turn for the worst. I was slow. Weak. Tired. I tend to lose muscle mass very quickly and so it was no surprise I was weak after 3 weeks of illness, but usually my mind can push me through. This time, my mind was weak too. Depressed even. That happy place I usually find in running was gone. I would step off the treadmill feeling no better than I did before getting on.
A few weeks ago, out of the blue I got a call from a former running buddy. “Hey, want to meet up at the trail for a run on Friday?”. Without hesitation I assured her I would be there. She calmed my woes of being ill and recent slow running by assuring me that she just wanted to run to “catch up” on life and just enjoy. We gathered at the trail head sans watches and after lacing up our shoes danced up and down the hills for a two and a half miler that felt like it had been a mere half mile. We looped around for one more mile and then parted ways to get back to our families. While driving home I was on a high that I hadn’t experienced in quite a while. It’s the elation you can only get after a good, uplifting run. I didn’t know how fast we had run and I don’t recall stretching properly afterwards, but I didn’t care. I had run just to run and shared it with someone I care about and in those 3.5 miles had been reminded of my love for running like a married couple in crisis is reunited over a weekend retreat.
We live in a ridiculously busy and noisy time. Our society puts emphasis on finding “peace” in all the wrong places. Don’t ever let your need for getting things done and pleasing others become a priority over taking quiet time for yourself. If you find yourself in a rut or slump, examine your routine and do something to shake it up. The last several weeks I have run on the treadmill only two times. The rest of my miles have been scattered over sidewalks and trails and I have loved every step of them.
Don’t let life get in the way. Go take your quiet time.