December 22, 2020 – Running Gently
Greetings from snowy Gatineau Park. It is quiet and beautiful here. I’ve gone for a few runs along a snow covered rail path which is lined on one side by the Gatineau River and on the other by pine trees. It is not fast running. Every step slides or wobbles a little. But it is what my body and mind are craving. I keep having the phrase of my old running hero Grete Waitz go through my head: “Run Gently”.
For those of you who don’t know, Grete was a pioneer of women’s marathon racing. She was the first woman to race it competitively and run it in similar style to her track background standards. In 1979 she was the first woman to run the marathon under 2:30, and she never looked back – going on to win multiple championships and running a PB of 2:24. Grete could run like a bad-ass. but she also knew how to run gently.
I remember reading her biography and running logs when I was a teenager. I wanted to absorb all the “secrets” of my idols. I was struck by this term which showed up in many of her entries – Run Gently. It didn’t say easy, or slowly. There were no times attached. I’m not sure if it was a direct translation from a word in Norwegian or a slight mis-translation on her part. Either way, I’ve always loved it. Gentle listens to your body. Gentle doesn’t have a pace attached to it. I think Gentle doesn’t even have to be ‘slow’. I did a ‘gentle’ version of a tempo the other day and really enjoyed the effort and feeling. Just keeping my body where it wanted to be. There are no red lines or struggle in gentle. As much as you can, gentle means floating.
So that’s what I’m doing until the new year. Channeling the Norwegians and running gently on snowy trails with some x-country skiing and hiking mixed in (as an aside, another hero of mine from that era was Ingrid Kristiansen (2:24 marathoner), also from Norway, and both women mostly only cross country skied as training in the winter).
Many of us right now could use being gentle on ourselves. Say it to yourself as you head out: Run Gently. It feels like kindness and self-compassion. Let’s give ourselves a break from grit, and guts, and toughing it out for a week or two. (I know y’all – we will get back to that!) For now I think we could all use some gentle running – for our minds and our bodies.
Workouts for this week:
- Gentle running
- Gentle tempo or fartlek (this is just going ‘comfortably hard’ for as long as feels good if you need to stretch out your legs – I won’t prescribe times or paces)
Stay safe, healthy and enjoy the holidays!