I may not be one for resolutions but I am one for reflection and this seems to be the best time for it. I know that this is when I would normally post a summary of the past week and while I have been very consistent with running and better diet, I had something else that I wanted to say. Yes this time it is about me.
I wrote a post little while about your motivation for starting on a fitness program It’s not about me…It’s about you. Riveting if I do say so myself (sarcasm doesn’t always translate well but that was it). I focus on running because that’s what I do. So I figured that I would share a little about my motivation for running. This is so going to go deep into a rabbit hole so if you don’t feel like following along, here’s something pretty:
As much as I joke about running so I can eat, that is only part of the reason. I mean there are tons of other ways to get exercise these days. Even with a gym 30 minutes away, I can still hop on a bike right from my front door. And yes my dogs are excellent hiking buddies but we would have to cover a lot of ground to get the same effect as a short run.
I’ve always been one for movement. When my mom couldn’t find me in the house, the first place she would look was the barn, and then she’d start walking. Not too worrisome until you take into account that I was two when this started.
As I got older, I would often disappear for hours at a time. We lived on a 100-acre farm and I would leave after breakfast and wouldn’t be seen until they called (or bellowed) for me around dinner. After the dishes were done, if it was still light out, I’d be back into the forest with my faithful dog. You wouldn’t believe how many times I was locked out because they just assumed I was in my room. Even though I wasn’t athletic in any sense of the word, I would roam and swim and climb and just sit in the peace.
I moved away to the city, had two jobs and went to school but I still moved. With everything being so close, I would walk to do my errands. I tried running but a poor understanding of shoes and proper running basics left me often injured.
The pounds slowly came on as my boyfriend and later fiance, was even less active than I was and had a diet that, well, let’s just say it wasn’t good. I was unhappy in the city and finally, after someone was stabbed in our back parking lot, I began looking to move out to the country. And I did. That was when I started back into riding in earnest. That was when I made a commitment to the horse that I was rehabbing that I would get into better shape for him because he deserved a partner that was going to live up to their end of the deal. When I found myself single, I took the opportunity to really beginning working on me.
At first running was a chore, something that you have to do but really don’t want to. Having tried to maintain it before and always ending up injured, once with shin splints so bad doctors thought I had fractures, I allowed myself to slow down and I gave myself permission to ease into it. I basically adopted the same mentality that I had for developing a horse: the horse has to be strong enough physically to do what you’re asking otherwise you’re setting them up for failure.
Suddenly, I was seeing gains. My times were getting faster. What once seemed impossible was happening. I still wasn’t blistering fast but I had set a goal of 5 km in under 30 minutes and I was doing that for every run. Then it was 10 km in under an hour. A friend talked me into running my first half marathon and even though I missed my time goal, after that any distance was possible; for me it was always more about the distance than the time. Because, as Steven Wright put it: “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” Or running.
But there is more to it than that. As I have mentioned before, I work as a first responder which encompasses fire fighters, paramedics, and police. I’m not going to specify which branch because quite frankly it doesn’t matter. We all see the same shit, just in different proportions. To some, we show up because they are about to watch their home go up in flames. Some see us when we are about to drag off daddy. To others, we show up when someone is about to lose their life.
And even though I don’t want to think about it, sometimes it’s the things you see on the worst day of someone’s else’s life that drives you to find a way to cope. Some use alcohol, others sex, or food, or isolation. Some stop trying to cope altogether.
For me, I feel at home on the trails. When I ran a 10 km trail race with my friend, it was the first time we had ever run trails together and she told me that I looked like I was in my element.
When I’m out there, I don’t have to hear people’s insults and bear their hatred because of the uniform I wear and what I represent to them. I can enter the forest and have the scent of cedar and grass and river instead of three week old decomposition that lingers in your nose for hours. I can hear my own breath becoming ragged instead of someone’s lungs filling with blood and the tinkling of broken glass. I can feel my sweat or the rain on my skin instead of piss, and shit, and blood, and spit. I can focus on keeping my feet out of roots and puddles instead of blood and bullet cases. I can feel the warmth of the sun instead of the blast of a fire.
Because for a time, a short time, I can keep my thoughts still and in the moment. I can silence that voice in my head that questions everything I did and what I could have done differently. That voice that says “if you drove faster, ran faster, plugged that hole faster, kicked in that door faster, if you were there faster it would have been different.”
And that, that is the reason why I run.