This morning was one of those mornings. I woke up in a bad mood, for no particular reason, except that maybe I’m feeling a little lonely. My husband is out of town, doing some training for work, and me and my son are here kickin’ it alone. So I’m feeling a bit worn down, perhaps. And my asthma is acting up, for some reason. I had my long run scheduled for today (for those who aren’t familiar with distance training, you usually do one long run per week in addition to shorter runs). Can you guess what the absolute last thing was that I felt like doing today? Running.
I hauled myself to the gym, thinking how nice it would be to go back home and lay on the couch. No one would care. I doubt anyone would even notice I wasn’t there. No one cares if I run. I’m not accountable to anyone, except myself.
So why do I run when I don’t want to? Habit. I laced up my shoes, put my earbuds in. I got on the treadmill. And I ran the furthest I’ve run yet–7.6 miles.
Habit gets me to the gym and on the treadmill. Then, it’s about facing self-doubt. It’s about shutting up and doing it (I always thought Nike’s trademark phrase ‘Just Do It’ was stupid, until I started running. Now I get it.) There’s always that little voice that says things like “I’m tired today. There’s no way I’ll make it that far!” or “What if my legs cramp and I can’t run through it?” You know how I usually answer? “Oh well”. And then I go right on with my business.
Often times, I am in pain when I run. My tibialis anterior (shin muscles) will cramp up until it is pure torture to put one foot in front of the other. I get cramps in my side. On bad asthma days, my chest hurts. But I can continue, because I know that if I persist through the pain, there are miles of good running ahead.
Sometimes the ‘pain’ is in my head, in my thoughts. There’s the ‘voice’ I spoke of, but there’s also what I like to call ‘mind garbage’–general thoughts, worries, fears, etc–that creates noise in your being. I equate it to running with a ring of keys strapped to both legs. Mind garbage jangles just like keys, distracting, slowing you down.
This is why I like distance running. Maybe I’ve got more mind garbage than other people, because it’s usually not until about mile 4 that my mind is finally empty and I do my best running. And the way it feels is amazing. My mind and body become one. I move like a machine. My feet really do fly.
I’d like to say that that feeling right there makes it all worth it, but that’s not entirely true. Even when I don’t feel amazing, I still run. I run because I can. It’s a simple answer, but it’s the only answer I can give every single day, good days and bad. I run because I can.