One of the reasons I love running is because it’s the only sport I have not sucked at. I was never athletic. Shy and uncoordinated was not a good combination growing up. I didn’t even play sidewalk games. Mostly, I think, I was afraid of failing and embarrassing myself, but then in my 30s I discovered running and it welcomed clumsy me with open arms. I felt accepted. For once, it did not matter if I was good at it or not. All I needed was my willingness and a pair of sneakers. The road and I became inseparable. I swore I would never let go.
Ever been on a diet? I have. I had an intense romance, however briefly, with just about every diet ever published. I would be so committed to losing the several pounds that had attached themselves to my body. Oh, I would make progress, a lot of progress, until that slice of birthday cake in the office and the leftovers the next day and then…well, you know the drill. It would be a long time before I would find my way back to another diet. The longer I went, the more difficult it was to get back.
It’s kind of the same with running. For years, nothing would stand between me and my run. I would walk through knee-high snow -in my driveway, with sneakers in hand to reach the road and change into them, then run my miles. Rain, heat, nothing would stop me. There was always time -- I made the time to run. But then I started taking more rest days, and I mean days. Some were needed as injuries became more frequent. Others were, well…let’s just say an extension of that needed rest. I became good at justifying “my recovery days” with reasons like the climate-- “Today is too cold,” or “the wind is too strong so I’ll go tomorrow.” The more days that went by, the easier it was to find a reason not to lace up.
But during this apathy that at times festers, a little voice reminds me of my days on a diet (honestly, the taste of a celery stick still lingers) and how difficult it was each time to get back on track after falling off. Frankly, the thought of distancing myself from running scares me.
True, there have been many runs that have not been easy-- some have been very difficult-- but every one of them has given me an enormous sense of well-being and solidified my existence.
Unlike a diet that left me hungry and deprived, running fulfills me in so many ways. It is that time in my busy day when it’s just me and my thoughts, me and the road. So, I get past that sluggishness that settles in and go. Difficult at first, but after a few steps I’m there again, like welcoming good old friends. Accepted, free, so alive.