Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Lessons From Running

As a teen I was a runner. I didn't run on a team or because I was good at it. I ran to survive. Running was literally my sanity in high school. After school I would get home, change into my sweats or shorts and head right back out. The run back to the high school was about a mile and a half, so my typical route took me on a three mile run round trip.
I wasn't great at running. In fact, running was pretty painful, but there was just something about it that calmed me down. There was some kind of freedom in going out for a run and being in charge of where I was running and how fast and far I would go. I would settle into a rhythm, look ahead to a goal such as a sign or light post ahead and run that far. Just before I would reach that goal I would pick another one farther off and keep running. I found that if I just made a goal to run the entire way I wouldn't make it, but by setting smaller goals to endure, I could focus on just getting that far and then I could get stubborn and keep going once I hit that goal. There were times I just had to slow down and walk for a bit, but I never let those last very long, just a few breaths and then back into the run.
Looking back I didn't have a particular reason for running. It certainly wasn't to stay in shape. I think it was for the solitude of being by myself, and for control. When I was upset, I ran. When I was stressed, I ran and while I was running I would only focus on those goals ahead, I only had the energy to keep running and not to think about everything that was stressing me out or making me upset that day. Running equaled peace, even though there was also pain involved.
Now I am much older, out of shape, and I can't physically run the way I used to. A bad knee keeps me from it along with a lot of pounds I didn't used to have. I find myself thinking about it often though. I still want to be a runner. I miss the escape from stress where everything just fell away and there was nothing but me, breathing, running and looking at that next goal.
Running did teach me some things though. Mainly about endurance and about setting those smaller goals. Life can be overwhelming. Demands on time, energy and resources can literally make me want to crawl into bed and hide. Hiding doesn't make those problems go away though. Sometimes you just have to look ahead to a small goal and push through to make it that far, and when you reach that destination, you look ahead to another one, even if it's just a short distance away, and you keep going.
There are times when I can feel my mind and my motivation shift and I find myself focusing on a goal, or working my way towards changing something that I need to change in my life, and I suddenly feel like a runner again. Yes, those changes are sometimes painful to make, but I am learning that getting through that pain is making me a stronger person the same way that I got stronger physically when I didn't give up during a run.
I have a long road ahead of me, and while I look forward to my final destination, I know that right now, I need to focus on those smaller goals and remember that each one is bringing me closer to the person I really want to be.


Yvonne said...


Hang in there. I hope things are okay. Don't give up.

Those short term goals are so important and always make one feel good about achieving them.


WifeyMommy said...

This is awesome and just what I needed. Love you. :)

Nancy Face said...

There are some important lessons to be learned from your wonderful words! I truly enjoyed reading them.

My therapy as a teenager was the piano. My mom had no patience to teach me to play, and we had no money for lessons, so I slowly taught myself. When I was stressed or angry, I would sit down and play loudly, banging on the keys. Soon I would begin to play more gently as the stress slipped away. It always helped!