by Brett Farrell
Every time I finish a run I feel incredible. And yet, sometimes, it’s hard to get out the door.
Between an endless to-do list and long days at work...sometimes it is exhausting to think about adding in a daily run. I used to think I was the only one who faced this challenge, but I have met countless runners with the same issue.
But every now and then I meet a runner who is totally different. Who doesn’t seem to struggle to get out for runs at all.
And to get some answers on how I can overcome my internal resistance to get out and run when it’s cold, early, dark, or I’m just tired, I found one of these “super” runners. Jenn Love is a good friend, and a Territory Wilder (our ambassador team). And several years ago, she told me she always makes it out for her scheduled runs.
At the time, we were out for a 20 mile run in Forest Park. Those long runs with another person often invite conversation that cuts through the small talk and lands in a place of realness. Authenticity you don’t always get in other life activities.
I confessed that it’s often hard for me to motivate myself to run after a hard day at work, or in the dark, early morning hours. When I said it I was hoping she would understand and empathize with me on this challenging aspect of running, I soon found there would be no mutual understanding.
She couldn’t relate.
Over time, I’ve noticed something in Jenn. A deep determination for running, a light hearted optimism and energy for adventure at any time. That energy is powerful, and contagious.
And running is right in the center of that energy. An undercurrent, keeping everything flowing.
I remember thinking, how can I channel this type of energy in myself?
So I dove in and asked her how she does it.
“I go because I know that is the daily piece of the puzzle that has to exist. Otherwise it just doesn’t work for me. If I don’t run I don’t do what feels like is me,” Jenn told me.
“At the end of the day I think, I get to go run. That’s awesome. It’s not this thing I look at and think, ugh, I have to go run. “
Somewhere along her way of life running became the must-do part of her day. When the chaos of life spins around her, shakes her up and leaves her exhausted she still has running. So she laces up her shoes and heads out the door.
Jenn started running when she was in grade school. Her mother ran a lot and they often ran together. Those were the great memories with her mom.
The next few years were tough. Her grandmother passed away, and her mother went through one failed relationship after another which created an unstable environment at home. Worst of all, Jenn was assaulted by a trusted member in their community. When the stress reached a breaking point, Jenn started running more.
“When I was running I felt safe. It was like someone out there was telling me, everything was going to be okay.”
The outside world became her home. It was safe. And she could be herself. Optimistic.
Running took her on adventures to Mammoth with the cross country team. At one point, she had to get a little closer to the woods than she ever had before - an urge many of us have on long runs. A stomach that could not wait for the comforts of “proper facilities.” When she told her coach of her concerns, the coach said, “oh, well you are not a runner until you poop in the woods.”
The experience shifted Jenn’s relationship with the outdoors. She grew closer to the world around her. And she learned that she didn’t need the comforts of society to be comfortable, or safe.
In the outdoors she could be optimistic and strong. There was less heartache. It was a place where hope flourished and the fears of what could happen alone on a trail in the woods never held her back.
Jenn’s shift to the outdoors as her home reminds me of John Muir:
“Remember that few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes, the waters, the quieter tracks. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action. Even the sick should try these so-called dangerous passes, because for every unfortunate they kill, they cure a thousand. ”
As much as I feel the Murian concepts of the, ‘outdoors is going home’ and ‘the mountains are calling’ I still am sucked back into society over and over again in a battle between stressed in civilization and freedom in the outdoors.
I see how the outdoors became Jenn’s home, the setting where she is most comfortable. Now, it is a natural instinct to run rather than drop down on the couch after a long day.
But I still wanted to know how I can harness that energy in my life. So I asked Jenn why it is always easy to get out when the comforts of home can be so, well, comfortable.
“There are days when my body is tired. When I put in 80 miles a week and I have to get 4 more miles. There are times when I am less excited about getting out the door but I know when I do it, I feel great.”
I asked her what advice she would give to people who are overwhelmed with work and other responsibilities throughout their day.
“I think it is about testing yourself. When you get into that workflow or busy schedule and you think, I need to keep doing this. I don’t have time to run.
Test yourself. Say, I am going to close the work down and go run.
Everything you feel obligated to do right now likely can wait 30 minutes, an hour, or a day. Try that. Say I am going to go. I know I have all these things to do but I am going to go. “
After multiple conversations with Jenn, I have better insight on how I can make my daily run happen. Though, I sense a difference between us in regards to running that may always be there.
That difference, I realized is our defaults. It is in deep in our wiring. At a young age she began defaulting to the outdoors, not the comforts of home. There was pain involved, heartache. But it was the natural alternative for avoiding a civilized world that didn’t seem as hospitable.
It reminds me that the outdoors is meant to be our home and when we are there we gain a better perspective. And Jenn has discovered where home is, a little more than most. She knows its healing properties- how it cradle hers, soothes her and shows her that everything will be okay.