Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone

Don’t it always seem to go?

It’s amazing how much more you come to appreciate the things you love once you’re unable to do them. It’s day 4 now: project can’t run. This isn’t my first time in which I’m unable to run; I’ve had minor injuries several times before. But it never gets any easier, and each time I reflect on what it means to sit on the sidelines more and more.

To me, running is my happy place.

Running started as a way for me to get out of a hole – a really deep, dark, scary place that at one point I felt I’d be stuck in forever. At first, I’d leave my house for 10 minutes at a time in an attempt to get fresh air, escape reality, and venture into the Ann Arbor arboretum where I could think more clearly. I didn’t run the entire 10-minute stretch, mainly because I couldn’t. And yet the ability to run for 10 minutes at a time turned into 15 minutes, then 20, and then 6 years later, a half marathon. We’ll see where it takes me next, but I can tell you one place it won’t, and that’s a deep, dark hole. Running is what freed me from it.

To me, running is the way I start my day.

That obviously becomes a huge problem on days I can’t start my day with a run. Running is the first thing I think about in the morning, before brushing my teeth, before pouring cereal in a bowl, before I wash my face. Where should I run? What should I wear? What’s the temperature outside? Laying in bed thinking about it, I tend to get pumped up about what’s to come. When I can’t (let me rephrase: shouldn’t) run, I don’t really know what else to do with myself except a few unfulfilling but necessary fitness videos.

To me, running is feeling good about myself.

There is nothing like getting back from a run, long or short, and knowing that even if everything else in the day crashes and burns, at least I got out for a really good hour. Or a really bad hour! Because there are good runs, and there are bad runs, but no matter the quality, it’s better than no run at all. Congratulations: You’ve pushed yourself, moved your body, and added a ton of positivity to your life.

To me, running is strength.

Before I ran a mile without stopping, I never thought I would. Then I did. Before I ran 3 miles without stopping, I never thought I would. Then I did. 5 miles was the next milestone. I got a fever the first time I did it, but eventually, 5 miles became the norm. When a distance becomes too comfortable, it’s time to push it more. Running a half marathon was never a goal of mine. Thinking back, I did it on a whim. Now, I thrive on the challenge of a 13.1 mile race. Once that gets comfortable, you know what’s next. (The scary part is, so do I.)

To me, running is personal.

It’s “me time.” Even recently, as I’ve begun to incorporate friends and family into my runs, those 30 to 90 minutes or so are mine. (All mine!) Running is a personal choice, and one that gives me ample time to think, listen to awesome remixes, catch up with loved ones, and work through any existing problems I may be dealing with. And when there are issues to work through, they’re usually gone by the time I walk back into my apartment.

To me, running is community.

As I’m writing this, I’m also realizing how selfish I feel talking about me, me, me. Because something that I’ve realized as I’ve begun to participate in the exciting world of running is that it’s a community. This community is what lured me into a second half marathon – and to actually run it in the snow. (It turned out to be beautiful and fun and an accomplishment like nothing like I’ve ever experienced before.) But what I’m wondering now is, what’s running to you? 

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