The other day I walked down my driveway, pushing Z in the stroller. And when I got to the end of my block, I started running.
It was on the early side, around 8 am, and it was still cool for July. Maybe sixty degrees with the kind of overcast sky that just makes all the neighborhood garden colors go so oversaturated in contrast.
I remember thinking I was glad I wasn’t on the east coast (sorry east coasters, that was the during your big heat-wave-power-loss-boom! event).
Everything around me just looked so green and alive and I just felt so alive. I loved every breath I was taking and the clarity of being able to appreciate it all in the moment and I thought…
I almost missed this.
I did, I almost missed that moment. Because for the longest time I thought I loved myself too much to make myself go running.
Let’s rewind–to, oh I don’t know, any time since my teens when I decided to take up running. Maybe once every couple of years, I would decide I needed to lose weight (and get healthy, of course.) (But mostly lose weight.)
And I would decide that running would be the best exercise to take up. Why? Because it was the hardest and most excruciating of course!
So I would run. It would hurt. I would get red-faced and I’d feel that stabbing pain in my lungs and the too-fast beating of my heart and I would count down the minutes, the seconds, the steps until I could stop. And as all the blood rushed into my head I’d think somehow, this is what I deserve.
I have to do this to make myself different.
If I just keep doing this every day I’ll be okay.
After doing this a few times, I would say–screw that.
(Not consciously. Consciously, I would find excuses and promise to go tomorrow. But some part of me deep down was rejecting that message: that I had to hurt myself. That I needed to change.)
And so I would stop. And eventually I stopped trying altogether.
Even though, I do kind of like the idea of being a runner.
Even though sometimes, some of them, look like they are having fun.
Even though my body is built to move.
Then six weeks ago, I read this and I thought, wait–what if I could run and not hurt? What if I could go at a pace that feels good to my body?
Whoa, whoa, whoa. That idea took the whole foundation of my relationship with exercise and turned it on its head.
And so here I am again, doing the same exact thing, but in a completely different way. It turns out, I didn’t need to change myself, I needed to change running. Running is a wholly new thing to me now, it’s amazing that it is even the same activity I was engaging in before. It needs a better word or something.
So that’s how to love running when you don’t love running: Go really slow. I mean, really slow. Slower than you thought possible to run and still be moving. Slower than people walking past you. (You’ll get faster eventually, I promise, but don’t worry about that now.)
I never thought I would write this but now, I love the days I go running. I run my run, and I think my thoughts out in the world, and so far Z doesn’t mind being in the stroller too much…and I can’t believe I almost missed this.