My Rapid Heart with Joy Teams My Soulful Feet

When I started running it was about being able to move my body. While that is still true and a big reason I keep running, it isn’t the only reason. Or even the biggest reason.

Running fills me. It empties me. It releases me. Running moves my thoughts, my heart, and my soul. It pushes me to do things that seem impossible.

When this year began, I couldn’t really run a mile. When I finally did, it wasn’t what anyone would call fast. It was gut wrenching. It hurt. But I did it.

Yesterday, I ran 4 miles. And my pace is picking up. Last week, I ran six.

For most of my life I’ve looked for ways to feel like I genuinely belong. To something, to someone, somewhere. I’ve longed for feelings of true connection to all parts of my being. Last night was one of those full circle nights. I hated running. I loved running! I was miserable. I was gleeful! What I’m really beginning to understand is how important the mind is. But it’s not just the mind – it’s your entire spirit. Your entire attitude.

Take this story of my run last night:
By the time I left work to go to the track for the workout with my running group, I felt shitty. So shitty. Take benedryl and ibuprofen with ginger ale and crawl into bed shitty. My head started hurting out of nowhere and my stomach started lurching. I suspect this was in large part to do with the weather (heat + humidity + rapid shifts in weather + seasonal allergies.) I also didn’t snack appropriately so I felt off in that respect. I decided I was still going to get on that track and do what I could. I am training and I plan to succeed. If I ever want to be able to make it through a marathon, I’m going to have to push myself.

I was dripping sweat before I even started the workout. After my one lap walking warm-up, I ran my warm-up mile – and felt…eh. (The workout was 1-mile warm-up, push-ups & sit ups, 3 or 5 x 1000, 1-mile cool down — with stretching in appropriate places.) I tried to get into the groove of the workout. I was pouring sweat in a way I forgot possible. I felt gross. I was deflated. My stomach was cramping. I stopped. I full on stopped and sat down. After my break (where I almost started crying) I completed one set of the workout (partly motivated by the 2 REALLY fast guys in the group – one of whom was in nothing by his short black shorts – I don’t want to look like a quitter or be the stereotypical “fat kid” in front of these guys who are running their guts out.) I walked a little. And then I stood around and chatted and knew I was quitting. The sun and sweat and saddness did me in. Enough.

The drive home was a battle between my head and my heart. What went wrong? Why couldn’t I do it? Why didn’t I try harder? Could I have done more? YES! What if Scott Jurek gave up? What if Jenn Shelton gave up? What if Ann Trason gave up? If they can do what they do, then I should be able to run speed drills in the heat and humidity. Okay, sure, I’m still overweight and haven’t been running that long. But I am strong. My muscles are strong, my heart (both hearts) are strong, and my mind is strong. The 40 minute drive home was all I needed. I was rested and I had a renewed sense of challenge.

So, here’s my update from my DailyMile account. I can’t say it any better than I did there:

#halfmarathontraining This was an emotional run. Actually two runs because the last 1.5 miles were done at home, away from the blaring sun, just me and Natasha Bedingfield. (If Jenn Shelton can find her running groove to the beat poets, I feel no shame admitting that I found my peace and buoyancy to “A Little Too Much.”) I was a river of sweat at the track – headache, stomachache – DEFLATED. I almost cried and no one would have known because there as so much sweat pouring off of me. I kept talking through it on the way home and I KNEW I was better than that. I KNEW I could do more. So, I laced my shoes back up when I got home. Busted out another 1.5 and redeemed my faith in myself. This is why I love running. LOVE.

I found myself again on the darkened sidewalk. It was still 90 degrees, but that sun wasn’t beating on me. There was no one around. Just me, my feet, the pavement, my music and a need.

What I’m learning about running is it isn’t just a physical act performed by lanky people. It’s a physical outpouring of the soul. Runners are tall, short, fat, thin, rich, poor. They are survivors. They are my people.

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