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Just Be Weird, Normalo

by Carilyn on April 12, 2018

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Turning 50 has definitely changed the way I view my running. Suddenly, all (okay, most) of my ambition is gone. I’m no longer (very) obsessed with winning races or setting records. Now, I seem to only care about getting miles done because…hell, I don’t even know. It’s really just a habit. Like brushing my teeth. Or yelling at people who drive too slowly. Most of the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it until I’m halfway through.

I’ve been running 20 miles a day since 2005. Somewhere, I read that was what Pam Reed did, so I did it, too, no questions asked. I wanted to run like Pam, so I needed to train like Pam. She also ate muffins for breakfast, but that’s where I drew the line. I dislike muffins immensely.

After I started my very scientific just-do-what-Pam-does training regimen, I read that many of the top ultra runners ran 120 miles per week. Perfecto. 20 miles x 6 days = 120. Pam’s Plan was right on the money. Research? Done. Now I could start thinking about important stuff, like what to have for breakfast that wasn’t a muffin (PopTarts became the solution, in case you were wondering.)

And the plan/no-plan worked! I won/placed in a couple of ultras my first year, and then made the US National Team my second year. I looooooooved days full of trying to fit mileage in whenever I could – while my kids were in guitar lessons, around the parking lot of a hospital while Tim was having some tests, at 3 a.m. if I had to catch an early flight. I loved the challenge of hitting the magic number of 20 every day, shuffling pieces around like an unruly puzzle that really had no pattern.

But these days, there is really no reason to feel the need to run 20 miles. I no longer run with a group. I don’t do any specific workouts. I’m past the point of believing I can qualify for another US team. With no kids at home, I don’t have to contort my mileage around work and kids’ schedules. But for some reason, I still feel compelled to get the miles done. Call it OCD. Call it insanity. But to me, it is just something that makes me feel pure, unadulterated joy.

Joy.

How often do we get to feel that in our lives, especially for free? How often do we get to do something every single day that makes us feel alive and connected? How often do we get to feel like we are doing something uniquely us?

We want people to “accept” and “celebrate” our weirdness, our eccentricities, our OCD/annoying/bizzare tendencies, like running 20 miles a day for no reason, dressing like a superhero after the age of 10, or binge-watching My 600 lb Life. But they never will. Because they are too embroiled in their own weirdness and eccentricities. And living their own joy.

Remember, joy should be reward enough, especially after all the years you did it for other reasons. Now just do it because you want to. Even if it is 20 miles a day. Or wearing superhero costumes (which is still totally weird).

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