i started running late. that is to say, i didn’t run competitively in middle school, high school, and definitely not in college. i picked it up in earnest at the age of 25. i’ll be 28 next month, so that puts me at just about three years. at least one entire year, collectively, was spent sidelined with one oddball injury or another. but i kept (keep, as it were) coming back.
part of it is definitely the thrill of racing. i’m blessed to have a naturally easy gait, a midfoot strike, and a neutral stride. i’ve been really successful in the races i’ve done and had great experiences with all of them. incidentally, had i run scholastically and had good coaching, i think i might have been pretty damn good. but i don’t run because i’m good at it – although that sure helps.
when i first started running, it was in the later stages of my recovery. running made me feel strong, almost invincible. i was healthy for the first time in a decade, and my body was pretty damn capable. and while i still feel that way sometimes (i have been known to excitedly pump my fist and yell after nailing a nasty tempo run. in the gym. with other people around. awkward.) i also run for different reasons.
since my mom died, running has been that thing that has helped me heal the most. it clears my head. it puts me back in the present. when i walk to class or to work or drive to the store, nine times out of ten i get sideswiped by a flashback to the funeral, or a heartbreaking thought about how i’ll never hear her laugh again, and all of a sudden i’m nothing but a sobbing mess.
but when i run all of my thoughts streamline. of course sometimes i think of sad things, but they flow in and out of me like the air in my lungs. it’s the most peaceful time of the day and week. i can, strangely enough, relax.
and that’s the why. it’s why i deal with the nasty feet and the callouses and blisters. it’s why i pay eleven dollars for socks and routinely wear nearly $500 in electronic running-related gear every time i lace up. it’s why i deal with the terrible stomach pains from ill-planned long runs, why i layer up and trot through the bitter cold, and get out and go before sunrise in the summer so i beat the terrible humidity.
running is my new therapy. without it, i don’t think people would like me very much.