It was still dark outside. I left our apartment complex and began running down the unlit road toward the first hints of a sunrise. The air felt cool and clean and the night was quiet, peaceful. I took my earbuds out of my ears and put them in my pocket along with my iPod, still turned off. This wasn't the grind. This was as far from the grind as a man could get. Like most of my runs, especially my pre-sunrise runs, this was a joyful experience.
|Not where I was running, but you get the idea|
|"Whoa--mind blown, dude."|
|That isn't me, but that is my gym equipment (I'm doing the ABC90X program)|
When it comes to running, work and play are intrinsically linked, the same way they are for most fun activities. If I had never worked at running, if I had insisted on only running until the point at which it stopped being 100 percent fun, I would never had had the experiences I've enjoy so much. On the other hand, if you lose sight of the joy of running and focus completely on working to improve, all your running becomes work and you miss out on the point of it all.
The great little wildcard in all of this is that if you enjoy something enough, even the hard parts can become play. Nowadays, when I prepare for a long run and I'm packing supplies and snacks into my backpack, I feel like a kid, because I'm doing exactly the same the type of thing I would do as a kid. Long runs are hard, but they're not workouts anymore--they're adventures.
|This is literally how I feel when I'm on a long run|