I used to think nothing of running 20 or 30 miles at a time. I could run a marathon or even a 50k on any given weekend. A 50 miler would be cause for butterflies in my stomach but I never doubted finishing one. A 100 miler was daunting, but I did it with a smile on my face.
These days I am not up for super long distances. A lot of the time I am completely exhausted. Yet I keep choosing to run most days. I am running for my physical and emotional well being. I am running because even on the worst days, when all I want to do is sleep, going for a run makes me feel better.
More often than not, I find myself wondering, “Can I run today?” Or “Should I run today?” Today was no exception. The last couple of days have been very stressful. I have been dealing with some non cancer related issues which are weighing heavily on my mind. After attending to some business this morning, I really wanted to take a nap. I found sleep elusive after handling phone calls, taking the dog out, etc. I decided to just get up and go out for a run.
The first half mile, I thought, “I am so tired. Why did I come out here?” Then a mile into my run, I thought, “I am still tired and slow but maybe not as slow as I thought”. By mile two, I thought, “I can probably run 4 miles.” By mile 3, something kicked in and I started to feel better and dare I say, maybe even happy? I ended up running over an hour and my entire physical being and mental state had shifted. The exertion felt good physically and my mind had a sense of calmness that had been lacking all day.
It is that positive shift that I experience from running that keeps me coming back to the roads and the trails day after day. Running is not effortless these days. Running is hard physically and mentally right now. I feel slow and tired. It is not easy to push myself out of the door. It isn’t easy to keep going when my runs are a struggle. Yet somehow I keep going because I know that even when it is hard, at some point that positive shift will come. Some days I don’t actually feel good until the run is over…but I always feel better after my run. I have yet to think, “I should have stayed home today.” Maybe that time will come. For now, I will keep running as often as I can because it still makes me feel better, happier, and calmer. Running helps me tackle life’s problems when nothing else makes sense. I don’t have to be fast. I don’t have to run far. I just need to run.