running, thoughts

My “Frienemy”, Running: My Love/Hate with the Sport

You know when you’re walking down the street and you see sneakers flung on a phone line, left to wither and decay? Have you ever wondered why they’re put there? Are they some symbol of a person who’s passed? Are they the representation of a cruel joke played on someone? Or could they be put there by someone who is throwing off the yoke of modern society and going back to their barefoot, primeval roots?  All good theories, right? But I and I alone have the true answer.

The sneakers were, clearly, thrown up their by people who have decided to start running and realize, as we all do, that this shit sucks!

I contemplated it myself nearly every day when I first started. I even remember passing a dead half decaying frog on the trail I was running and thinking,

“You lucky bastard.”

The funny thing is that I love running. I love it. When I’m out there and I’ve found my rhythm, I get all my best thinking done, like top drawer thinking, the kind of thinking that can save you money on therapist bills, the kind of thinking that makes you believe you have a place in the world.

The funny thing is I hate running. Yesterday my husband suggested I go out for a jog and I think we nearly had to call 9-1-1 from the daggers my eyes threw at him. I hate the act of prying myself loose from my life, putting on those damn sneakers and steeling myself for whatever physical and mental challenges lay ahead.

But this is something I love. My husband knows this, this is why he suggested that I go. He could see the red warning lights of stress going off around my head like some insane car alarm. He could tell, if I did’t get my butt going, this was going to be a bad day.

He was right. I needed to go. After three miles, I felt the weight in my chest leave, I felt stronger and more confident, two things I need to have a successful day. I need to feel like I haven’t already failed at 8 AM.

Running makes me feel calm, even when my legs are burning and my chest feels like it’s going to explode, I’m calm. The calmness comes from knowing I’m wired for stress, worry and anxiety and I am pounding out all of that bad energy with every foot of those three miles.

It’s like panning for gold. I start off the day with my screen full of junk and bad thoughts and sometimes, if I’m lucky, if I work hard enough on that trail, “shaking my screen”, all of the rocks, dirt and negativity falls away, to be left with only positive thoughts and good energy.

Thoughts like,

“You’re strong.”

“You did something today.”

“You are not a failure.”

“You are able to do more today, because you took this time right now.”

There’s a section of the trail I run, I lovingly call, “The Garden of Gethsemane”. I am tempted to quit every time I run through it. The temptation was so strong when I first started out, there were many times I succumbed.

Then one day, I pushed through and found out what I was made of, it turns out a lot more than I had thought.

Running isn’t for everyone, some days I don’t even think it’s for me. But I truly think that we all have a love/hate with something in our lives that’s good for us. Whether it’s starting something physically challenging or staring down at that blank canvas or notebook.

We all hate the “not doing yet”, the “climb up the diving board ladder”, but once we’ve made it to the top, the view is incredible and we can enjoy that feeling when our toes leave the edge and we’ve thrown ourselves back into something we love, hoping next time the climb up the ladder will be faster and the period of “not doing yet” will be shorter.

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