Turning the running dream into workout reality.

I call them magic legs.

Deep in REM sleep, cozy and comfortable in the queen-sized bed that has given me years of dream-filled slumber, I am running with such ease I would swear I am flying!

Runners, like writers, have good days and not so good days. We have runs that are called grinders because it takes all we’ve got to grind out a few average training miles.

Writers know this same feeling. Once beyond the dreaded ‘block’, or as runners say, once out the door, you can be ready to write page upon page and yet the pen, full of ink, dares you to make a mark on the page. The grip feels awkward, your chair off kilter, the lighting too dim. And yet, after the cursory perp, the writing, as rough and chunky as it may be, is begun! You finish, in a time longer than expected, and are quite glad to turn the tablet to a fresh page for tomorrows effort.

On the morrow, the sun rises within minutes of the previous days peak above the horizon. My routine for a morning run remains the same and I am out the door headed on a familiar route like so many days before.

I tear down my street already feeling good. I won’t look at my GPS watch for fear of finding I’ve started too quickly and will soon burn out, regretting my decision to let my mood dictate what should be a monitored effort.

The tar of the bike path feels softer today as my legs respond to the pace with an ease that tells me I’m in for a treat. Breathing is neither labored nor easy. Somewhere between just rapid enough and not so insane that I sound like I’m gasping to survive.

By mile two I’m committed to the effort. I call it running with fatigue. I make a deal with my body like I’m talking with a coach.
Me: “I’ll keep this pace, but I’ll need to cut the mileage from eight to six miles.”
Coach: “No way, you need this workout to improve your endurance. Seven miles minimum!”
Me: “I know, and I’ve got to take advantage of how I feel. My body is flowing like I’m being pushed by the wind. My breathing is less labored than during my track workouts and my legs feel really fresh after a rest day.”
Coach: “Then it’s settled. Seven miles as fast as you can maintain!”

I agree to the plan. I’ll run with the fatigue I know will make me stronger. “I’ll do it”, I say. I have to, for today the magic legs are back!

Mile four clicks off and I begin to unleash my body for the last three miles. Mile five is a blur of effort, pain and joy as I prep for the last mile before the last mile.

I return the same way I went out on this out-and-back course. Arms working, body mechanics constantly in check for alignment. The sound of my feet pushing off the bits of dust and sand on the asphalt path remind me of running on the track, the place where speed is honed as we push ourselves as hard as we can. I feel like I’m flying the last mile, daring myself to go as fast as I can and still remain able to gas it all the way back to the finish line I call my driveway.

These benchmark runs are few and far between, and yet come at just the right intervals. After weeks of hard work a payday arrives and I cash the check without hesitation. Like a great session of writing, it feeds me for weeks, sometimes longer, between the daily grind of everyday results.

Trusting in the process enables me to keep the hope of flying alive, knowing the magic legs, and pen, are a blessing of cumulative efforts. Chipping away each day, resting when needed to freshen up the physical and mental self and then jumping back in with abandonment are what prepares us for that moment when the magic strikes!

Brian Siddons July 2018


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