There are many adjectives to describe a run. Runs can be painful, challenging, disappointing, exhilarating, and motivating, to name a few. And there are just as many words to describe a run that makes you feel on top of the world. One that builds your belief in yourself to the point that, afterward, you feel like shouting from rooftops:
"I did it! I ran! I could go farther! I can't wait til the next run!"
When a run is that motivating and wonderful and stupendously-amazingly-great in a physical, mental, and emotional sense, I tend to heave a happy sigh and call it, simply, "Good".
A Good run is different than a good run. A good run is just this side of mediocre. You felt strong, but not amazing. You completed it, but without a real sense of accomplishment. It was just...good.
A Good run, on the other hand, is spoken in a tone that insinuates a subtext. Words like solid, strong, well-rounded, fulfilling, and exactly-what-I-needed are implied. Simple words that carry in them a strength and depth of meaning.
So what exactly makes for a Good run? There's a special combination - a recipe, if you will - for achieving such distinctive feelings after a run, and it's hard to force. At first, you may be fearful of this particular run. The distance seems daunting. You feel exhausted. You're still sore from your previous run. But you go, perhaps because you convince yourself it will clear your head, or perhaps because your running buddy will stab you with sporks if you fail to show up.
And then the run takes over. You fly through the first mile, which is usually your most challenging. You make perfect conversation, or perhaps enjoy a perfectly companionable silence. Your breathing and pace are aligned as if by the stars themselves. Your mind wanders to amazing places and you feel insignificant as the scope of the world around you overwhelms you.
And when the run ends, you feel bone tired but stronger than before. You stretch and enjoy every pang in every muscle. Your water is a miraculous beverage provided by the heavens. You sleep like a baby and wake up refreshed the next day.
A Good run is what keeps me coming back for more. I've had a few Good runs for every dozen "okay" runs I've had. But they truly make you realize, "Wow, I can call myself a runner," and they motivate you into the next one, two, twelve "okay" runs. The runner's high lasts that long.
Last week, I had a Good run. K and I went a little later than usual. I was tired of our usual route and had mapped out a slightly longer run that was well-lit and completely outfitted with a wide, smooth sidewalk. We had a beautiful, inspiring conversation during the entire run. We spent 45 minutes stretching afterward, and by the time we got back into the car we were shocked to see what time it was. I went home that night feeling totally and completely fulfilled, mind, body, and soul.
A Good run can turn around your entire mood, your entire day, your entire week. It's not just about creating motivation for the next run, of course. The feeling of elation and well-being extends well beyond that. But yes, it can inspire you to go for a run the next time you're feeling reluctant, too. I've found that Good runs turn up the most when you're least wanting to go in the first place.
If that's not motivation, I don't know what is.