Learning to Chill

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing. But time after time, I can’t tell you how often I return from them more stressed out than I was before I left. It seems that, for the most part, a vacation needs to involve an itinerary of some sort, just to ensure that everything gets done exactly the way it is planned.

This expecially holds true if it is a vacation where I plan to run. Half of my suitcase ends up packed with all my running gear. From socks to shorts, to sneakers, to sunglasses, to sports bras, to a waist belt, not to mention all the last minute items I toss in there just in case.

Will it fit?

Will it fit?

I didn’t consider this trip a vacation. Instead, I viewed it as an opportunity to reconnect with my family. We don’t get together often. I’m in Minnesota, my two sisters and their families are in New York, and my mom and dad reside in Florida. This ended up being a spur of the moment decision. And it ended up that I took the trip alone, since the cost of travel and hiring a farm sitter ends up being a bit too much around such a major holiday.

I left my family behind, and hit the hills. Well, the airways, anyway, and landed in New York just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey #selfie

Turkey #selfie

For some reason, I wasn’t particularly anal about what I packed this trip. In fact, for me, I packed very light. I planned out each day, and each outfit, so that I wouldn’t over pack. I left behind the portable blender, bulky hair dryer, and shampoo bottles knowing, in fact, that both my sisters would have those items in their own homes. And I left behind most of my running gear. Instead, I just brought along what I had to have. That being, my waist bag, my headphones, a headband for colder mornings, my iPhone, my heart rate strap, my sneakers, and my Energybits. I left all other fuel stuff at home, and opted against my hydration belt. I’d be in the middle of metropolis. All I needed to do was carry a few bucks and a water bottle could be bought at any street corner if necessary.

I also brought my gloves, two pairs of shorts, one pair of ankle pants, one pair of capris, and 3 tops that would match any of the bottoms…cause that’s how I roll. I packed a pair of compression socks, which I never wore, and my toe socks. In the end even that was too much, as I did a load of laundry a few days in anyway.

Where I grew up.

Where I grew up.

I had no agenda for running, just that I wanted to get a few runs in. One of which I hoped would take me back to my home town for some photo ops, which it did. But everything else was far from planned. In fact, it was delightfully spontaneous.

It was this morning that I realized how much I loved being spontaneous. The less I have on hand, the less I can be so anal about my running. After all, what does one really need to run other than a pair of sneakers? Not much.

And despite the fact that it was drizzling, I didn’t much care. I just really wanted to run. There was little holding me back, except perhaps the thought of drops on my glasses. But that quickly diminished as I stepped outside and got started…immediately.

It was this mentality that made me realize I need to chill. The run doesn’t always have to be planned. It doesn’t always have to have a purpose. It doesn’t always have to involve a bag of crap that I leave behind in my car just in case there is something I can’t run without. I also realize I don’t have to worry about what time I took my vitamins, or drank my coffee, or swallowed my Energybits. It doesn’t matter if I eat before or after my run. I don’t always have to turn my Runmeter on, or have my headphones in, or alternate sneakers every day. It doesn’t matter if I stop to take some pictures along the way. It doesn’t matter if I run on a trail, or a sidewalk covered in leaves, or the shoulder of a road, or the paved path in a public park. It doesn’t matter if I run with friends, family, or alone. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if I launder my running clothes provided they don’t get that sweaty.

It is in fact, just about the run. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other. It’s about maintaining momentum. It’s about getting off my ass. It’s about enjoying spontaneous movement.


Why hadn’t I realized this before? Maybe it is because I was with my family. Maybe it is because I wasn’t home and stressed about the calendar, or making lunches, or dinners, or fitting that damn run into my busy day. Maybe it was because I didn’t have to set any alarms, or go to bed at a certain time, or lay out my clothes the night before. Maybe it was because I was on a hiatus from the everyday grind.


It doesn’t really matter, though. Because in the end, I learned a valuable lesson. I learned to chill. And I’ve learned that chilling means a rejuvenated love of the run. And, as Minnesota enters the dead of winter, it couldn’t come at a more opportune time.

December is chill time.

…then we can get back to business.

Do you think you take your runs way to seriously?

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