Running is sometimes like being in labor. It’s uncomfortable, hot and sweaty work. There’s some pain, sometimes lots of pain, and a great deal of heavy breathing. I try to control the rhythm of my breathing (in through the nose, out through the mouth and repeat) and keep focused on the goal of getting to the end. Of course at the end of labor you have a new baby and you can’t walk comfortably for several days. With running you just have the latter. Well, that’s not true now, of course. When I first got into running it was like that. I would run (ok, jog) and be thinking, “why am I doing this? Oh, this sucks so much. I should just stop now. No, I can’t stop now. If someone sees me they’ll think I’m some kind of wuss. Got… to… keep… going. Oh, someone kill me.” And all this just before reaching the end of my street.
That was the old days. Now I go out, feel good for the most part, get tired through the middle and usually finish up strong. I still get stitches, especially if I’ve eaten too much right before a run, and I get the occasional tweak in my foot or ankle that makes me have to take it easy for a few days here and there. I still breathe heavy up the hills, but I can smile sailing down them. Once in a while, not very often, I’ll get heckled by guys driving by, but it doesn’t bother me. I’ve usually got U2 blasting in my ears and I can’t hear a damn thing they’re saying, but I imagine it’s something like, “Oh, you are so gorgeous and mighty, running lady, and I am so lowly and insecure, for I feel compelled to yell at you while driving my truck! Why am I such a bastard?”
I both love and loathe running. And sometimes, still, the best part of running is the stopping running. Getting to the corner of my street, seeing my house and knowing it’s finished and I can rest, get a drink of water and take off my stinky shoes. The kids all come rally around me and David always smiles and asks, “How far did you go this time, mommy?” Some runs are farther than others, but always I run just far enough to get out of my own head for a little while, or deeper into it, I’m not sure. Far enough to get my heart thudding in my ears. Far enough to get me to think about death and to feel every once in a while that God has got my back. Far enough to get just enough crazy out of me so I can do everything that I need to do every day…every day. That is what I love most about running- How far I can get without every leaving my city.
I’ve been meaning to write more about running, but reading this funny post by Backpacking Dad is what inspired me. It’s a slightly different kind of running story.