Running: 20 year anniversary
It is crazy for me to even consider, but I have been "a runner" now for 20 years.
If you knew me in elementary, middle, or high school this might be hilarious to you. I used to DREAD that Presidential fitness test like it was the seventh circle of h*ll. I was always an active kid, I danced from the time I could walk, I loved to swim and dive, I did some solid backyard gymnastics that increased in intensity during Olympic years, but I always hated running that dang mile.
When I was sixteen, I decided to take up running. In the beginning my motivations were not entirely pure. I was definitely thinking more about what I looked like than the health and wellness benefits of running. I mean, it was the 1990's. Grown women on television in their thirties and forties did not have curves and it played with my young mind. Ultimately I don’t think that running changed my outward appearance a whole lot but it did give me a feeling of accomplishment and led me on a path to sustained wellness for my body and mind.
I remember my first goal. It was simply to run to the end of my parents' street. It's not a long street so it was kind of pathetic, but that is how terrible of a runner I was. Then it was to the end of the street and back. Then around the block. Finally I was running long enough to get out my walkman and make myself a mixed tape entitled "running." (It definitely had some sweet 1990's jams and most certainly had some classic Britney Spears.) Then, around the neighborhood. To a friend's house. My distances got longer and longer and pretty soon I was comfortably running in 5K's.
As I hit each goal I found that I felt good about myself. I took something that was very difficult for me and I tackled it. It also felt great to have a sense of accomplishment. My body felt great and I liked the feeling of pushing myself towards a goal.
I pretty much got addicted to that "runner's high" and never looked back.
Eventually, I invested in an “anti-skip” CD player for my runs. (Anyone else remember that complete farce?) I am thankful to Steve Jobs to this day for inventing the iPod.
Now, I am no amazing long distance runner. Two to five miles is pretty much my jam. I have never run a marathon or even half marathon and quite frankly, I do not plan to. Running is a fun little break for me, a way to get outside (when I am fortunate enough to have nice weather) and a way to unwind. If I trained for a long race I would take all of the fun out of it for me. I think folks that run longer distances are amazing. I am just not about that life.
I think back over the past twenty years and running has been a crucial part of my life. When I lived with my folks, it was a way to get out and be alone. When I was dead-broke and could barely afford rent, let alone a gym membership, I ran. When unfathomable tragedy hit my dear family, I ran. When I needed to blow off steam while I was studying for the bar exam, I ran. When my new husband and I were new naive lawyers and full of hopes, dreams, and aspirations about our lives and careers, but also dead broke (like foreeeeevvvvvver) we ran together. And when I brought my new babies home from the hospital and was ready to get myself back in shape, I ran.
I ran when I was depressed and it lifted me up. I ran when I was excited and it calmed me down. I mentally prepared for trial during runs. I budgeted to buy a house during a run. I tossed my young kids in a stroller while I ran and lulled them to sleep. I muscled through several years of a double stroller before my son learned to ride a bicycle. I honestly do not know if I would be the same person without running.
Running has kept me in shape for two decades. I definitely notice that it adds muscle to my legs but I am 100% fine with that. (Also, because I grew up and realized that the 1990's were super scary for body image!) I thought about my looks when I ran in the beginning, but now I think about my health. My blood pressure is awesome and aside from the litany of allergies that I have always suffered from, running has kept me incredibly healthy.
When I had my crazy emergency surgery a few weeks ago, my first question was "when can I run again?" The surgeon laughed and told me four to six weeks.
I ran three weeks after having both of my babies, what is the exact hold up here? I mean, I get it. Surgery is serious. (Shout out to the c-section Mamas because I did not have to recover with a newborn stealing my sleep.) It hit me that I was really physically limited for this short time. Someday my health will probably get to a point where I won’t be able to do this running thing all the time. I see folks every day in my day job who are truly physically limited in what they can do. I just never thought of myself in the same way. It is not easy when your body is holding you back instead of moving you forward.
It happens to everyone I guess. Life is hard and we often take our health for granted.
Sitting inside watching other runners seize the day when the weather finally warmed up made me anxious to get back out there. I was finally cleared for a slow jog and I can’t stop thinking about how lucky I am to be back out doing something that keeps me sane.
By the way, I recently had my music game totally upgraded when I was gifted AirPod earbuds. Yes, they stay in and they’re awesome.