“I thought you’d already left!”
My husband told me this as he walked downstairs yesterday morning to find me laying on the couch reading a magazine. We’ve gotten into a fairly reliable morning routine this summer, where I am able to wake up and read for a little bit before heading out for a run. By the time I come home he is downstairs eating breakfast and we can catch up for the day.
Despite this routine, there have been many days this summer where he has either woken up earlier than usual or I have left for my run later than usual, and we run into each other before I head out. Every time this happens, I usually mope around for a little bit as I struggle to find the motivation to get off the couch and head outside into the summer heat box to run. I see him sit down with his breakfast about to indulge in some relaxing TV time and find myself tempted to do the same. It usually goes something like this:
“Ugh! I don’t want to run…”
“Well then don’t.”
“No, I really need to stick to my training plan.”
“I just don’t understand why you’d choose a hobby that you don’t like…”
And this usually follows with me defending myself and explaining to him that I actually do LOVE running, but it is physical work and like all things that involve work (even when we love them), it’s hard to motivate ourselves to get started when we’re so comfy and that book is calling our name. An object at rests remains at rest, right? That’s often what I think about when struggling to get myself moving. Once I’m out the door and on the roads, I am ALWAYS glad that I’m doing it.
With this being such a frequent conversation between my husband and I, I started thinking yesterday about why I actually do choose to run.
When we came back from our honeymoon, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion and physical fatigue. My body was tired and out of whack from our trip, and it sure felt like I was on the verge of getting sick. At the same time my mind was a jumbled mess – I was overwhelmed with extreme happiness in the fact that we are finally MARRIED, our wedding was PERFECT, and we no longer have the stress of planning a wedding hanging over our heads. Along with this, I was experiencing a sense of loss by the fact that the event I had spent the entire last year planning was over. We will never get married again, and all of those people that we were so excited to see are now back home living their normal lives.
Needless to say, my mind and body were indeed a jumbled mess. I was not motivated to head out and run on the first day of our return, but at the same time was craving that run. As soon as I set foot out the door, I started to feel better. It was a hot and sunny day, and the whole time I was running I swear I could actually feel the toxins leaving my body. My mind finally experienced the sense of calm I had been craving, and I returned home feeling a million percent better.
Running is hard. It pushes us not just physically, as so many people think, but even more so mentally. With each new distance we push our body to new limits – something that we’re not actually sure we can accomplish is on the horizon and it is up to us how we handle it. With each new tempo workout we challenge our body to run even faster than we did last week, even though last week we ended the workout telling ourselves that this was the absolute fastest we could go. There are many times when we get home from a run and feel absolutely exhausted, our legs can’t move another step and we are sweating buckets.
So then why do we get up the next day and head outside to do it again? It’s really a valid question.
I think any runner can tell you that the high that comes with it is unlike anything else. Hardly anything in this world compares to the exhilaration we experience when we accomplish something we didn’t think we could do, and what else brings us this feeling of accomplishment multiple times a week?
These challenges help increase our mental strength and prepare us for all of the challenges that life will throw at us. It’s too bad that life isn’t always going to be easy; but the best thing we can do for ourselves is to prepare for those challenges, so that when we are faced with them we can conquer them. Our minds are such a powerful tool, and running helps us sharpen that tool each day.
It’s too bad that so many people out there don’t get to experience running from the other side. They look at is as a forced form of exercise, and just don’t want to put themselves through something that takes a lot of work and makes us feel terrible sometimes. How can we explain to them that it is all worth it, unless they try?
Life can be stressful, and the best way I know to deal with that stress is to run. Running helps us celebrate the challenges, live in the joy, and is a friend to us when we are at our lowest points.
So I guess the next time he’s wondering why I run, I’ll just send him here 🙂