For some runs, all I can feel is each ache and pain in my almost 40-year-old body. Each steps mocks my efforts and erases my concept of myself as a “runner.” Those runs suck.
For some of them, I am all Chariots of Fire– in full possession of glory, endorphins and positive thoughts. On those runs, I look up and see I am almost home. Time passed without me thinking about the running. During those runs I compose blog posts or let memories slide in to keep me company or think about the quadratic equation. Those runs touch my heart.
And there are other runs where I feel rage coursing through my body. I have imaginary fights with people I haven’t seen in years. I pick fights with Jeff and myself and with you– all while my feet pound on the pavement. I use my feet to process the injustices and slights and confusion that otherwise bottle up inside. During those runs, I keep going until I feel the sweet release of forgiveness and tolerance, even if I have to do a few extra laps.
Some runs are a hybrid of them all– they may start out effortless and end with me in a raging huff & puff. Others begin with the greatest of exertion and end with the sweet thrill of accomplishment and gratitude for my healthy body.
During some runs I can get out a good cry, but I have to run slower because of the blurry vision. Some runs I can laugh at a joke I heard hours before but didn’t get until about mile 2.
And sometimes, I just stop in the middle. I tell myself: “I’ve had enough. No more running for today.” On those runs, I let myself off the hook. I let myself walk and slow down and breathe. I let myself be someone who can bail out if she needs to. It’s hard to stop in the middle of a run, but when I do, I know I’ve done something harder than actual running: stopping. Those runs make it possible to be a runner in the first place.