I’m a runner.
Not because I’m fast. Not because I run marathons. Not because I’m even that good at it.
I started running in response to a bad break up in early 2004. I have always been fairly athletic, but never thought I could run – for one, I had no lung capacity. I was a smoker at the time and barely exercised, but more so, I just always believed I just wasn’t good at it. After I broke up with my boyfriend, I responded to a stressful situation like I never had before – I started exercising. Then, one day, I tried running. I started seeking out resources on how to do it better and found an article in the paper about ChiRunning. The method made sense to me and the next day I tried it out. To my surprise, I ran 2 miles that day. Two whole miles for someone who dreaded the days during volleyball camp where we’d have to go out for runs in the afternoon and who, ultimately, gave up on volleyball because due to being so out of shape and fat to have the confidence to go out for varsity.
But that day, something just clicked. That was it. I was hooked. I was dealing with depression at the time. Combined with therapy, running really helped pull me out of that dark time in my life.
Right after finishing my third half marathon, 2012
Running for me has little to do with personal bests – although I have a couple I am proud of. It’s not even about losing weight, even though it definitely helps me stay a somewhat healthy weight. For me, it’s the way I deal with stressful situations. It’s how I get away when I need a break. It’s the only time I really give myself pep talks and encouragement. It’s how I remind myself of how strong I am, despite my many (many) weaknesses. Like Shawn wrote about his writing, it makes me feel more like me.
These past weeks have been hard for me because I can count on one hand the number of runs I’ve gotten to do. I’m really most to blame for that. I haven’t prioritized it. If I go more than 2 or 3 days without some form of exercise, I start to get cranky. I start to get anxious. I start trying to control things that are out of my control.
I worry about having limited opportunities to run while we’re traveling. I’ve read about other runners who have struggled being in countries where it’s just not a viable option. I’m glad there’s the scientifically-proven 7-minute workout as a standby for when I need exercise and there’s not another option, but it’s unfortunately not the same for me. I need that mental break that running provides.
I know I’ll just have to adapt. I know I’ll find time to do it when I can, and other ways to remember to breathe when I can’t lace up my shoes and escape from the world. Somehow I’ll find a way to make it work. Because that’s what I do.