For the Love of the Run

I signed up and blew off 3 half marathons before I even completed one. The vision of being a runner kept drawing me in, but I couldn’t bring myself to put in the effort.

I loved the idea of a challenge. I liked the square boxes of mileage waiting to be checked off day after day, week after week. But the every day work of training for a race isn’t nearly as simple as marking through a box. A full time job, three kids and life in general seem to constantly be collaborating to test me and see just how badly I actually want to make it to the starting line properly trained, rested, and uninjured.

Last summer I made it the starting line of three half marathons in five weeks. I technically qualified as a Half Fanatic by completing that challenge-that’s just a fancy and expensive way of saying “crazy”. By the time August came along my foot, which had been somewhat bothersome and gimpy while running, was causing me to limp and hobble around on a more regular basis. It was the perfect excuse not to run. I needed to rest my foot and recover.

Except that for me it wasn’t about my foot. In my brain, I took the injury as the validation of all of my doubts that I am, in fact, a runner. I could complete race after race, but I still wasn’t gaining the body of a runner. I could train faithfully, but I still was a back of the pack runner.

I embraced my injury as the final proof that I wasn’t meant to run. It was so much easier to give in to all of the ways I fall short as a runner than to wake up and do the work of a runner.

I missed the Vancouver Half because of my injury. I didn’t sign up for any summer races. Even loved ones were doing their best to convince me that my running life might be better transformed into weight lifting, yoga, or just a death march on the elliptical.

I believed the lies. I believed I wasn’t a runner.

And then I bought the latest issue of Runner’s World and came across the story of Mirna Valerio and her love of running. She doesn’t look like a typical runner. She isn’t burning through any finish lines. Nevertheless she gets up each morning and runs for the love of the sport.

And in an instant, I wanted that back too. Running has a way of working itself into your heart so that even when you want to forget about it, want to pretend it just isn’t for you, you can still hear it calling your name.

My life is better with running. I love the sense of accomplishment, the training, the endorphins. And within half a day I’d found my next three races and started my training. I’m not where I was last summer-there’s no way I could string together a half marathon finish right now-but I’ve got a training plan and a starting line and that’s more than I had two weeks ago.

Sometimes we have to come this close to losing something to realize just how much it means to us. For me, that something is running.

I’m glad to be back.

eugene marathon copy

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