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The Perfect Run

If there’s one thing that runners love more than running, it’s talking about running. From deliberating on which new shoes we’re currently longing for, to hashing out training plans for that race that’s sneaking up on the calendar, runners will slip into running-related conversations at the slightest provocation.

     Of these discussions, however, none is more common than that of the The Run itself. We love diving into the minutiae of our daily trots with fellow runners. What was the weather like for yesterday’s speed workout? Did our legs feel like well-oiled machines, or more like cinder blocks? Did the run fly by, or seem to last for unendurable eons? 

     In the course of these conversations, one can’t help but wonder about The Perfect Run. Is it even possible to have a flawless day out on the road or trail? As unlikely as it sounds, I recently experienced just that.

     As a general rule, I’m a fairly solitary runner. I much prefer grinding out long runs and tempo workouts by myself, where I can build mental strength and let my thoughts flow freely. Nevertheless, this past Wednesday, I spontaneously asked my friend Zach, a former high school cross-country teammate and current collegiate runner, to join me for a morning recovery run. 

     Oftentimes, I loathe easy days; despite their clear benefits, I easily become stiff and bored as I struggle to lock in a recovery pace. This run, however, was different. As Zach and I loped along the rolling gravel trail, our legs seemed to turn over effortlessly, feet crunch-crunching lightly on hard-packed stone. Morning sunlight dappled the tree-lined path as we ran and talked about everything and nothing all at once. 

     The pace was not hard, nor was it so slow that it felt like we weren’t working. We simply glided along, lost in the beautiful, spring-like weather and the warm comfort of those most elusive of things: a decade plus-old friendship, and a run that felt so blissfully effortless that it could be bottled up and sold as a drug. 

     Was Wednesday’s run my longest or fastest run ever? Not by a long shot on both accounts. Was it particularly remarkable in route, elevation gain, or difficulty? Nope, nope, and nope. Rather, it was something altogether distinct: this run was about as close as to The Perfect Run as any runner could hope for, and that’s a beautiful thing in and of itself.