Sunday, August 24, 2008

On running

Running changes your life. Of course, anyone who runs knows that and anyone who doesn’t run cannot understand that concept. It changes the core of your being – from how you feel to how you dress to how you communicate, parent, love, live, and learn.

Before I began running I was good at blaming. I was unhappy? Well, I had a difficult time growing up. Clothes didn’t fit? Stores changed their sizes and unreasonable expectations were set by society. Always sick? Poor immune system. I was very good at finding a reason for everything, and the reason was never of my own making.

Running changed all that. Running strips away all of the crap, all of the delusions, the self absorbency that is so common in our world today. When I was pounding the pavement, the race was with myself. Could I do better? Could I make it farther, faster, than the day before? Injuries were tests, not just of my body but also of my mind. Would it get me down or would I learn from it, become stronger. Get through it.

Running once, I saw my marathon instructor. A veritable machine, he and his wife were my coaches in the early stages of running when I did a marathon for Joints in Motion. A triathlete, many time Ironman finisher, I assumed he would say hi and continue on at some crazy pace unattainable by me. But he slowed down to chat. After only a minute or two of idle catching up, he told me doctors had found a 2 inch aneurism in his heart. He spoke about the decision not to have immediate open heart surgery, the shock. His wife’s worry. He talked about his kids and how proud he is of them. He talked about how important physical activity has been for him – where it has taken him and how it allows him to live life to the fullest. He talked about slowing down, but not stopping. And how this thing, this awful thing, had allowed him to realize that maybe he needed to slow down, take stock, enjoy. We ran together for twenty minutes or so, and talked about babies and houses and general things, and then with a tip on some real estate he was off to the Y. I finished my run and thought about what he had said. Am I appreciating what I have? I often bemoan a lack of time, with a toddler, a husband, dog, job, friends, family, yardwork, housework, and all the other things that come with living life, I have been forgetting that this is what life is- this is it. So when I get the opportunity to run around the lake, instead of wishing I could do more, I should be happy. What's that slogan? Just do it.

Again, running has set me back in the now. With the help of a great coach who learns his own lessons, I remembered what the point is.

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