-10+ days in and I had one ever so brief run yesterday that promptly reminded me I’m still a ways from back to healthy. All I want to do is run. I want to get back to feeling like I had. Unfortunately I am impossibly stubborn and all too willing to try and rush back into it. What is so apparent is the depth of the habit I have formed. Read somewhere that it takes 30 days to create a new habit. What is it after that? Like a year or two later? Is it an addiction? a compulsion? an edgy drive that settles into your body that creates this unrest when not fed at least a few miles at a time. As each day passes and I feel more like my own self the desire to take flight flourishes. I see it as 10 days of nothing. nada. I only see my days in relation to miles logged. I see zeroes and an anxiety nags at me. That irritable nasty voice gets going. Tomorrow I know I have to do something. even if it is just another short one. I have to feed this beast of my creation. It was my doing. I never set out for this. I can even look back and see the first time I set out in the rain just to see where I was at. That 8 mile run stands out so clearly in my mind. It was awful. Windy with an icy bite to the rain. An early fall rain that reminds you it isn’t summer anymore. I settled in and put my head down. I set that goal and I did it. It was control and it was success all in one nicely wrapped package. If only all of life could be that simple. If every goal could be so easily attained. I don’t mean easy as in simple, I just mean it was doable in that amount of time. That run was not easy. It showed me a bit of misery and a bit of pain. Not a ton, but enough to keep it honest. Enough to teach me a little respect for the distance. It gave me a taste. and so it began. I started off on a journey that took me beyond Tough Mudder and into life with a new mouth to feed. A clawing pushing, shoving need that now stands firmly in the middle of my life. I don’t think that is a bad thing. It has gotten me through the worst of days and the darkest of thoughts. It has been my companion as well as my guide. I have learned much about myself along the way. Where I can push and where I know I will give up. I have learned what pain is my friend and which is not. If you had told me a few years back I would devote so much of my time and effort solely to running I probably would not have believed it. I think there is often a meaning in all things, and that more often than not things truly do happen for a reason. I think the gift of running came to me because I needed, more than anything, a place to be me with only myself. Nobody to answer to or to worry about making happy. Nobody to disappoint. I had no goal and I had no direction. I just put on an old pair of sneakers and stepped out in the rain. I wasn’t sure where I was going. It was an open stretch of black asphalt and a heavy lidded grey sky. I didn’t know that day would alter my life. who knew the power of movement. In the steady foot falls and the chasing of oxygen I found my zen. It wasn’t on some mat with rain fall noises piped in. It wasn’t breathing exercises or booklets on mindfulness. Nothing could have prepared me for what I found in the rain that day. It was priceless.
Here I am more than 19 months later and it is no less a gift than it was then. As everything comes undone around me, or in my head- I look for a pair of sneakers as if my life depended on it. They are my salvation on days when I can’t function. I may lack the energy to get out of bed but my body is so conditioned I can force myself out the door. I know if I just try it will be better. I can turn my mind and make the unbearable bearable if only for that hour or two or three. It can be done. Even when nothing else can. When I am powerless and hopeless. When I feel like I have nothing and no one I can find myself. I can run.
So where is the line. Many might argue I run too much. I run for the wrong reasons. I don’t think there is ever a wrong reason. When the alternative is sitting and ruminating, torturing myself sitting in the worst of thoughts this is a very real alternative. Does it hurt some of the time? yep. It can hurt quite a lot. Does that have a purpose? yes. When the disconnect is so vast and bottomless that I lose track of where I end and the world begins it has a place. I can run hard enough to reconnect. I can lose the hollow, if only for a little while. I can FEEL something. It may not last and it may not help ultimately, but in the short run it can. It is a survival skill on some days. It may be all I have to hold onto at times. There is nothing wrong with that. I have learned along the way how hard I can push and how much I can endure. I understand those boundaries. I don’t cross them. There is a time for growth and development, just as there is a time to settle and take what you can get. there has been much of that along the way. In the zen of the run you can get lost and go too far. You can get lost and push too much. Those are all lessons learned in the pursuit. It is at times a labor of love. Days when the wind is stopping you still and rips the breath from your lungs. days when the ice pellets sting like rocks hurled from the sky. those are the days when it is the habit you have instilled that keep your legs moving. Relentless forward progress is the key to days like that. It is too easy to just give up and turn back. The hours and hours built a foundation that can sustain you when the toughest moments come around. When your mind says fuck it this in insane, or I’m tired. I’m hungry, I’m sore. this sucks. those are the moments when all the work pays off. Your legs keep going and your lungs keep fighting for it. That is when the true beauty of it becomes apparent. The house you built. The strength of those pillars you set with sweat and tears and blood. Those stand strong and from them you can reach beyond where you thought you could go. To fight for more miles or faster splits. It is your house. fuck it. it isn’t a house this is a palace. a mecca. You built it and now it is yours alone. this is my mecca. My home beyond these walls. It is a place for me to seek refuge and solace. to retreat to when everything is so very wrong. but it is also a place to build me up and to make me more than I was the day before. to reach potential I never knew I had. To kindle those goals till they get crushed and replaced with new ones. It is a means of creating strength both in mind and body.
It feels good to want something, to feel that drive to be in motion. that is a gift beyond all others as it gives me a place where I can create my future, even if it is just that next hour. or even that next minute. I can exercise my control and drive. I can feel what it is to be completely successful. If only life could be like this. If only life could be my mecca.