We runners love our numbers: our PRs, our heart rates, our weekly mileage, our minute-by-minute pace. I have been inordinately proud of what I perceive to be a fast pace for training runs (8-minute miles for a normal five-miler) and deeply disappointed in what I perceive to be a heartbreakingly slow marathon time (4:39) given my pace for long runs (between 9 and 9:30-minute miles).
At my annual physical yesterday, I got a reminder of some metrics I should probably be more focused on and proud of: My cholesterol (low for the bad stuff), my blood pressure (112/76), my resting pulse (46!). When my doctor ran through the standard list of questions about my medical history and current habits, I felt a rush of gratitude that my problems are relatively trivial running injuries rather than major disorders or diseases. When she brought up stress management and its role in curbing health problems, I nodded vigorously and told her I believe endorphins cure all ills.
I’ll be heading out with Pacers Silver Spring’s running group tonight, and we’ll be running a pace-ruining hill loop.
But rather than focusing on how fast or slow I’m running, I’m going to focus on how much stronger and healthier the hill work makes me, and how much a good, hard run can do to erase pre-holiday stress — accomplishments that seem much sweeter than any PR.