Athletics have never been my thing. I’m more of an art geek. In fact, since high school I would really only run if I was being chased which only happened in nightmares. Funny how things change. I keep a crazy schedule these days and keeping up with my even crazier friends is harder than ever. So, in an attempt to spend more time together, we set aside Thursday nights to go running. I was extremely reluctant at first. I am not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination but I wanted to open myself up to new things even if running seemed more like a nightmare than something friends do together for fun.
Running has changed my life in some amazing ways. I sleep better, I drink more water and I see my friends on a regular basis, which helps me feel a little more like a normal human being. And I discovered something else—running is faster than walking. I like going fast. I like hearing my feet touch the ground in a solid rhythm. I never thought I’d say this but I like a good sweat. Most of all, I like the high-fives at the finish line.
Running has taught me a few things.
One step at a time.
I’m learning that with running there is no short cut. I can only put one foot in front of the other. No matter what, I must go one step at a time and in only one direction. With my chin up and my face forward, I pick up my knees and suddenly my whole being is moving in the same direction; forward. This is refreshing because normally, I spend a whole lot of time going in millions of different directions. I can see my progress as I keep my eyes on that finish line, and it feels like all of me is moving in one direction at least for a little while.
Pay attention to people.
A little help from my friends, their encouragement and support, has made my new foray into running possible. I would not be able to do this alone. What’s so amazing is the breathless conversations we have during our three and a half mile trek. As we sweat together and put one foot in front of the other, our lives spill out. We can’t help it. Our struggles with work or relationships, our triumphs and best-laid plans, our goals and ingenious ideas are given free reign. The truth is, when you start talking, out loud, to a listening audience, what you say is remembered by more than just you.
Suddenly you are being held unofficially accountable. The beauty of this is we have the opportunity to learn so much from one another. There are no short cuts in the lasting friendship department either. We must be willing to invest our time, energy and our true selves.
Join the human race.
I’m not competitive. For me, it’s not a race. It’s something else. I’ve discovered, I really don’t like having sore muscles or being out of breath in front of other people but this is what running does to me. No one is perfect. No one has it together all of the time. All any of us can do is show up and do our best. Running has really forced me to deal with my perfectionism and my willingness to be vulnerable. I may not be very good at it. I may be a work in progress with a long way to go but I’m willing to try. I’m willing to stretch my muscles and be stretched by those around me.
Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I can’t wait to go running tonight. Give it a try. You might actually enjoy yourself.
Editor’s Note: We are still and always looking for submissions for the health section. If you have a viewpoint that you want to express on a controversial health-related issue or just want to tell us how you are getting in shape, feel free to send your 500-1000-word Word document to email@example.com. Please include a short bio (under 150 words) of yourself so that we can give you the credit you deserve.