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Earlier this morning, I was running  in the predawn darkness and my headlamp batteries died (ah-the irony of having just written about that in my last post!). The only light I had then was the partial moon and starlight and occasional streetlights or cars (oh and chatty runners, some with headlamps).  Once you come dependent on that headlamp for illuminating your runs in darkness, without it you feel somewhat blinded. 

However, faced with this minor obstacle, I decided to press on and relied on “feeling” my way through the run. What do I mean by this?In other words, if your sight alone can’t get you through your run, rely on your sense of touch: legs/feet making contact with the running path and your (almost) memorized running paths that are familiar, every turn, every tree, and ALMOST every crack in the trail and/or sidewalk. Your legs and feet essentially become your eyes when needed. 🙂 Slow down if you have to but try to keep going because if you get in patterns of shortening your runs, it’s hard to break those patterns/habits, adjusting to longer runs.  Use the lights that you do have (remember to change your batteries in your headlamp!). 

It’s amazing how much of running becomes internalized to the point that certain things are almost automatic, like traversing your memorized running paths. Your muscles have memory and store it as you run over and over again, sometimes you just have to tap into that memory and pull the right file(s) for the day/conditions.  Ideally you reach a point of running in the zone, or in the running groove, as I like to call it. Sometimes this does not happen but it doesn’t hurt to pursue the running groove in every run. 

While there is an advantage to planning out your runs, it is fun to be spontaneous sometimes and NOT plan them, letting how you feel determine how far and how fast you run.  Do your legs feel strong? If so, run longer and/or faster. If not, slow down a little bit and/or shorten the run. Are your lungs burning? Are your feet on fire? Are your feet happy? Is there any hidden energy left in your secret reservoir to tap? Tap it!

How much do you rely on feeling your way through your runs?