This post could be about a lot of things, because as anyone that is a runner will understand, what you learn about yourself and the life lessons you find on the trail (or road) are deep and powerful of the life changing variety. Running teaches you so much about how to live life. And losing the fear of starting over (or at least moving forward despite the fear) is not unique to running, but it is something fundamental to being a runner as we all will have injuries or illness that will get in the way at some point. However, being a runner helps you take things in stride (pun intended).
For me, running is where I meet the best version of myself and why despite being afraid I put on my Altra shoes that I randomly won at a race I did (which feels like a million years ago now) and some sweet leggings and I just ran my first run in months. You read that right: run not race.
I was terrified.
I normally don’t share these thoughts, but I wrote an honest Facebook post the night before of how worried I was that I wouldn’t be able to finish, but that I was going to meet myself where I was at and do my best. I am so thankful for all the friends that reminded me of why I was doing it. It is fun! In all my worries and sadness that I’m not my healthiest, I had almost forgot that running is something that changed my life and continues to whenever I let it.
A week before I had been out of work because I had come down with a respiratory issue and was having problems getting winded just standing up. Miraculously, I took my time and I was able to keep a fairly steady pace and finished the race strong. I won’t apologize for being slow as myself and so many other runners have a habit of doing (which I am learning is something I just want to get away from as I don’t want slower people to feel judged). I am instead going to celebrate that I did a pace that would be comfortable to run a lot longer. I ran at my 50k pace. I was not struggling at any point during the 10k and had I not pushed myself the last 1.5 miles I would have easily been able to run a half marathon. I know my body and I know I could have done it…and even if I couldn’t having the important lesson of starting over and trusting my body can’t be understated.
This was probably the best race for me to get back into it. As part of the Endless Summer Trail Running Series I was surrounded by my people. These are trail runners, serious trail runners, who support each other and we all know that amazing feeling when you hit your stride and you are surrounded by nature and all you can think is how elated you are to be alive. All runners understand this, but I think for trail runners especially there is that understanding that we are just a part of nature and that being in nature makes us better people, it makes us stronger, and it puts everything into perspective.
I don’t listen to music when I’m on a trail. I want to hear the beat of my feet on the ground. I want to hear the birds and the wind and to fully experience even the huffing and puffing. It is honestly a spiritual journey for me whenever I do a trail run.
Running has saved my life. I have run off obesity. I have run off depression and anxiety. I have run off self-esteem issues. It is not a magic pill. It is something that makes me remember how powerful I am and that through it I see myself as I truly am and not as anything more or less than my best self.
It is humbling to start over. I think about starting over in other areas of my life and how with what I have learned through swallowing my pride and starting over with running I can do anything.
I remember how disappointed I was when I couldn’t make a 50k training group work for me (the times just didn’t work with my insane schedule) and I think back knowing that the real problem for me was that I knew that running keeps me happy and I was so incredibly sad and depressed. I didn’t want to think about people I love having cancer or feeling trapped in a life that didn’t feel like it was my own. I got through that time and sadly ran very little, because I was so very held down.
Looking back, I know that I can’t ever let that happen again. I need running to be in my life all the time. I am overweight and not feeling my best, but running is not just a weight loss tool. It is a life management tool. It helps me be my best version of myself. I am slowly working up to doing a 50k again and I feel like I’m starting over.
It can be hard to start over and frustrating when you need to pick yourself back up and readjust. But I am just not willing to not pursue the best version of my life…even if it takes time to get there. It is the journey that is the most beautiful part, but I can’t lie. I really want to know in my heart that I have reached my goals and to be able to proudly say I run ultras. 50k I’m coming for you! Then we will see from there what is next!
❤ Always, Jenny