Thursday, July 14, 2011

No Complain, All Gain

I am a runner. Well, I fancy myself a runner. I’m not especially fast, or technical. Maybe a jogger is a better word, but I like runner better. Humor me.

So, what makes one a runner? I have a subscription to Runner’s World Magazine. Well, we all know having a subscription to Runner’s World doesn’t make you any more of a runner than having a subscription to Scientific America, makes you a Scientist. Sometimes, I flip through the pages of my running magazine and I don’t even understand all the technical talk. That doesn’t make me less of a runner.

What makes me a runner is that I lace up my running shoes and hit the streets on a regular basis. I’ve logged many miles on the street, at the park and on the treadmill. I’ve run 5K’s, 10K’s and even an ultra-half marathon once. I’m not breaking any records. Sometimes ladies pushing baby carriages whiz past me during the 5K’s. I’m ok with that. I’m still a runner.

Sometimes running in painful. Not physically painful really, but mentally. My heart is beating faster than what is comfortable, I am breathing heavy and my legs are working hard. My mind is telling me to stop, but this is the time that I have to push my body to keep going, to work harder. Just to be clear, I am not talking about physical pain such as in the knees, shins, ankles, hips, etc. If you have those kinds of physical pain, you should listen to your body and stop. I am talking about being uncomfortable from exertion and the mental tricks your mind plays on you during a run.

Other times running is relaxing and joyful. Yes, I said joyful. A slow comfortable pace to clear my head and exercise my body. Quiet time all to myself or quality time running with a good friend or my husband can be the best time of my day.

Immediately after a run is usually the most rewarding. Whether the run was easy or difficult, whether I was fast or slow, whether I ran alone or with a friend, it doesn’t matter. It is that infamous runner’s high immediately after a run that never fails to put me right smack on top of the world. I never finished a run and thought, “ Gosh, I wish I wouldn’t have done that today.” Which brings me to my point.

Yesterday it was 103 degrees at 6:30 in the afternoon. I had already done 30 minutes at the gym on the dreaded stair climber (AKA the Death Mill), but I got home from the gym and wanted to log just a couple outdoor running miles for the day. It was hot outside, I mean REALLY hot. It is Texas in the summer, after all. I was tired. I worked all day and already spent 30 minutes sweating buckets at the crowded gym. I ignored that little voice that told me sit on the couch and watch TV. Instead, I hit the streets. Then, almost immediately, I regretted it. Less than a block from the house, my temperature was rising, my heart was pounding and my legs were screaming. I was already contemplating doing a U-turn and going home. “Just keep going,” I told myself, “Only 2.5 miles today. You can do it.”

Then, I had a moment of clarity that fueled the rest of my run.

Running is a privilege. There are many people in this world that physically can’t run due to illness, weakness, injury or probably a million other reasons I couldn’t even dream up. There are people in wheel chairs and people without legs at all, that would give anything to lace up their own 2 shoes and go for a jog. I am physically able to run today, I have the time and the ability (not to mention a supportive husband.) There are no guarantees for what tomorrow will bring. Everything could change in a blink of an eye.

So, as I was running in the impossible heat I was reminded to be thankful for my two strong healthy (albeit tired) legs, my healthy heart and for the motivation and the desire to be there in that hot miserable moment. I was reminded to be thankful for the opportunity to clear my head and exercise my body. I was reminded that I should not squander any chance for daily exercise in exchange for time in front of the TV, computer or an extra hour of sleep. I shouldn't put it off for the perpetual "tomorrow," because there are no guarantees for tomorrow. Running is a privilege. I was so busy those next 2.5 miles being thankful, that I almost forgot about the pain. Almost.

What about you?  What are you grateful for?

Keep Running,


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photo credit: kaneda99 via photopin cc

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