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The Little Moments That Make Running Worthwhile

Alison Feller

I woke up yesterday morning and set out for a seven-mile run in Central Park. I have this personal rule, "never judge a run by its first mile,” but mere moments into my outing, I knew this was going to be a crappy run.

My quads were sore for no apparent reason, I was tired (thanks, perhaps, in part to the 4:30 a.m. wakeup), and my legs would not turn over. My pace was hovering at more than a minute per mile slower than it should have been for an “easy run.” And it just felt impossible. (Next time you embark on a tedious jog, keep our Expert Tips for Surviving Long Run in mind.)

I kept on running, though, looping the Central Park Reservoir until I would hit seven miles. I typically run with music, but for some reason I never turned it on yesterday. I was just grumpily trying to put one foot in front of the other, watching every single runner pass by me, seemingly effortlessly.

It was somewhere around mile four that I experienced a total change of heart. My quads were still sore, my pace was still resembling a post-marathon death march shuffle, and I was plenty tired.

But as I circled the Reservoir for a second time, I noticed birds chirping. I caught a stunning glimpse of a perfectly navy blue sky starting to wake up the city—a view so beautiful that I actually stopped right in my tracks, paused (my legs and my watch) and stood there to truly appreciate the scenery.

As I moved on and finished my loops, I stopped at my favorite place in the park—the Engineers’ Gate entrance on 90th Street and Fifth Avenue—to stretch a bit before heading home. I happened to glance toward the public water fountains and saw something remarkable: They were wet. The water fountains—after a long, arduous, unrelenting winter—were finally turned back on.

It was a spring miracle! Spring seems to finally, officially be here, and with that means running in tank tops, brighter mornings, and lighter nights. (And running into these 12 Types of Runners You See in the Spring.)

I was having such a bad, grumpy run yesterday, but the littlest things shook me right out of my funk. My pace never got faster and my legs never felt better, but it was somehow one of the most magical runs I can remember.

So often we focus on running’s “big victories,” like running personal records or accomplishing new distances. But it’s so important not to let the little victories go unappreciated.

Little victories can be simple, like finding a working water fountain along your running route, or spotting a public restroom that’s actually open, available, and stocked with toilet paper when you most need it. There are beautiful sunrises, glorious sunsets, and times when your favorite jam comes up on shuffle and propels you to greater speeds. When we obsess only over the end goals—the races and the paces—we lose the little moments along the way. (Add this to our 30 Things We Appreciate About Running.)

Don’t lose those little moments. Celebrate them!

Alison Feller is a writer and editor in New York City. She has completed five marathons, 11 half-marathons, and many shorter distance races. When she’s not writing or on the run, Alison can be found in the yoga studio, on a spin bike, or (on very rare occasions) cycling outdoors with her fiancé. Keep up with Alison on her blog, Ali On The Run, or on Instagram and Twitter @AliOnTheRun1.

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