What Running Has Taught Me
Run Your Run. A catchy slogan, but what does it mean? What defines a runner? Is it their distance? The time spent? A love of the sport? How many athletic shoes you own? How many races you have competed in? What are the rules? here is not one answer. Anyone who get’s a rush from lacing up their laces to head out and steadily break into a rhythm of left/right cadence, turning their feet over faster and faster as their lungs struggle to catch up with what their limbs have thrown into action, feet springing from the ground with what to the casual observer may appear an effortless stride, as they find their unique momentum....that is a runner. It doesn’t matter your distance, the speed, or your time. Running doesn't care if you just started or you have been at it for years. It doesn't judge you by how many miles you put in or how many you aspire to achieve. If you run, you are in the club. And the club is not exclusive, anyone is welcome.
Every day I throw on my running clothes, lace up the sneakers, and pop in my ear buds to take off down the road I am grateful. Each is an opportunity to hone a strength, power, and honor the gift of a healthy and able body. Each run I am choosing my run...and each is uniquely different. Some days are tranquil and scenic, soaking up the world around me lost in the moment of life’s simple pleasures. Other times I am in a competitive race against the clock, pushing hard, teetering the line of physical and mental exhaustion as I will myself to take the last few strides. Some days I am ill prepared - not enough sleep, lacking hydration, or mentally just not feeling it. But good or challenging, I am grateful for each run as they have all had their own unique lessons.
Although I grew up in an active family and participated in my fair share of sports, I didn’t actually discover a love for running until I turned 30, and that was on a dare. And that is the amazing and wonderful thing about running - it is an equal opportunity sport that doesn’t care how young or old you are, and it doesn't matter when or where you start - you are welcome anytime, anywhere to join the club. Soon after my first run I knew I’d caught the bug. I experienced that infamous “runners high,” and the empowering freedom a run can provide. I discovered a love for the the ability to throw on sneakers and take off in any direction – anytime, anywhere – only having to rely on myself (mind, body and spirit) to get me somewhere....and that was invigorating! In previous sports I felt my success was contingent on a variety of external factors, many of which were outside my control. Yet with running I had found something I could do all on my own and I was largely in control of how that went. And what’s more, I could make it my own! Some days I might share it with others, some days I would go it alone. I could compete or enjoy it just for fun. I could explore a new place or enjoy the familiarity of an old haunt. Bottom line, it was my sport, my ritual, my choice, and my run. When and where I went was up to me. How long it would take me to get from A to B was also largely up to me. I would learn from each run, discovering quickly the importance of preparation, a balanced training program, pre and post nutrition and cross training to optimize performance and recovery. I learned how to appreciate the mental and spiritual gifts a run provides as much as the physical ones. Injuries would sideline me, an illness might set me back, and weather could throw a curve ball in from time to time, but I always found my way back to running. Because it was a love (and sometimes hate) relationship that gave me so much more than it took. It's a steady friend who ‘gets me’ without having to say a word. Running is always there to help me sort through the mental clutter, problem solve a challenge, help me work through my fears, celebrate my successes, and remind me I can. It has become a great metaphor for life, teaching me valuable life lessons and the importance to Keep Moving Forward. Whether you are a runner or not, I encourage you to find your run! In other words, find your love of fitness. Discover that thing that you look forward to doing, that physical activity that fills you up mind, body and spirit, something that inspires you, provides therapy, and reminds you to be grateful you are able, that activity that helps you live your best life and keeps you moving forward.
Our health & fitness is truly a gift - appreciate, celebrate, foster, and cherish it!