A Happy Distance

Flowers June 2006 (3)One of life’s simple pleasures is to fall fast asleep when I first close my eyes with my head resting on the pillow and the covers tucked snugly over my shoulder and under my chin. It is even better when I can then sleep the whole night through with only a sleepy break in the middle of the night. I would like this to happen every night. It is one of my goals. It is a problem that is best solved by listening to my body. It has a daily rhythm it wants to follow. The better I follow this rhythm the more likely I am to sleep well. I switched to running in the evening this summer in an effort to make the day more efficient. It turns out that running in the evening increases the likelihood of a good night’s sleep. I thought it might wake me up too much. It does wake me up for a little while. After running, I take a shower, eat a small amount, wash the dishes, and do the other end of the day tasks. By the time I have finished all that, the alertness from running has worn off leaving me relaxed and pleasantly sleepy. If I have run far enough to counteract the day’s stress and use up my body’s extra energy, then I will fall asleep quickly and sleep well. It seems like my happy distance for running is around 6 miles. Unless it has been an unusually stressful day, it takes about 3 miles to disconnect from the day. Each mile I go beyond the 3 miles, the calm deepens. I rarely do things on purpose these days that I know will disrupt sleep like drinking caffeinated tea or taking a nap. I shut down the computer when I stop the day to stretch before running. I only turn it on again if I want to check on something or write. I am working on training my mind to stop thinking about stressful topics when the day ends. This can be difficult. If I run far enough, though, the running does that for me. Occasionally, like on Monday night, I can’t sleep because of external factors. I was sore on Monday night from the fall and every time I turned over to my left side I woke up. Yesterday was a very tired day as a result. I didn’t try to run last night. I was tired enough that I probably would have tripped over my own two feet. I would like to have at most one night of short sleep a month or even less often. At present, I have a short night of sleep about once a week and sometimes twice a week.

This evening’s run was a little over 6 miles. The temperature swung up again over the last two days. It was 32 degrees at running time with the wind from the south at 20 mph giving a feels-like temperature of 20 degrees. I could tell the wind was gusting to higher speeds. It was a good run. My legs had energy up until around ¾ of a mile from home. This is alright. I want to be tired when I get home. I stayed well away from the icy patch that precipitated Monday’s fall.

Take care and thanks for reading.


About Sarah

nature, outdoor, and health enthusiast, book reader, and story teller
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4 Responses to A Happy Distance

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi Shady 🙂

    I don’t schedule rest days. It seems like for one reason or another there are days when I can’t go. There are fewer of them in the warm months than in the winter. In the warm months, I might miss say two days out of month. In the winter, of course, there are off days because of the weather. I haven’t been keeping track, but my guess would be that this winter I have only been going about 1/2 of the days. And I have been going less. It is much harder in the cold. I noticed last night that even though I increased the distance I ran faster because it was warmer. I don’t always go the same distance. I will alternate say 4 1/5 with 6 or 5 with 7. If it has been a particularly hard winter for running, there is a transition time in the spring. I have actually managed to go more this winter than most winters. That could change if we get significant snow fall. The town is good about clearing the sidewalk I run on for most of the way as long as there isn’t too much snow. If it snows a foot or two, though, they are going to have other priorities. I think of running like I think of eating. I want to do it every day and go about it in a way that is sustainable. Our bodies were designed to move and running is a natural motion. I adjust speed and distance to suit how my legs and feet feel on a particular day. There are times when I mix in walking with the running if I am feeling particularly tired.

  2. Sarah says:

    I appreciate that you share your thoughts with me. I always like hearing what you have to say 🙂

    My approach and philosophy is different. When I was in my teens, 20s, and most of my 30s, I read a lot of articles about health, food, and running. It was mostly to try and solve a problem I had with my body namely episodes of severe pain. Someone even suggested to me that the pain was because I run. Well. Long story short. I decided to flip the situation around and approach it from the standpoint of listening to my body. My goal is to be strong both structurally and internally in the workings of the various systems of my body. Our bodies constantly give us feedback. I am not trying to impose a way of going about things on my body whether it is a certain diet or a running program or how many hours of sleep I get a night. I did that when I was younger. The results were not good. In a certain sense, my body does get rest days when it wants them. I will go slower or not as far if the energy isn’t there. I don’t try to “push” myself in the sense that others do and I did when I was younger. Life pushes my limits every day with other challenges. I think making my body stronger should be a celebration of life not another chore or task I must complete in a certain way. I can tell my body has been getting progressively stronger over the last couple of years since the latest change in eating. My legs have a lot of energy. They are the most energetic part of my body. They are buzzing with energy as I sit here now even though I went further last night. My experience running is much better now than it was in my 20s not even adjusted for age. I certainly need more sleep now than I did then, but that is to be expected. All in all, this approach works for me so that is why I do it. Like you said, to each his or her own 🙂

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi Shady 🙂

    It’s snowing again! It was lightly snowing when I woke up this morning and it still is. Last time I looked, they were saying 5 to 7 inches which isn’t too bad. I am still planning on going running. It will be warm enough at running time. I know I can run in 4 inches of snow because I did it earlier this winter. Fresh snow has plenty of traction. I have been feeling the last couple of days like I lost my sparkle, but I woke up this morning in a pretty good mood 🙂 Last night, I ran a little over 6 miles. I saw a guy bundled up walking his dog. He was walking like he was tired and didn’t return my wave at least so far as I saw. On Saturday, it was cold enough and the wind strong enough that my forehead hurt and I ended up with a headache and irritated sinuses on Sunday and didn’t go running that day. It seems this is one of the winter’s lessons…. If my forehead hurts, turn around and go home. I like the idea of a ski mask, but that will have to wait until next year depending on whether I live in a place with snow then or not. I carry a small flashlight with my keys, but they have been staying in the pocket. The route I am running has street lights. When the clouds are low like they were last night, it is more like dusk than dark especially if there is snow cover on the ground.

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