July 29, 2016
I never liked running as a kid, as a rule I made a point of avoiding all occasions of sweat. My conversion to the active life came through the prompting of my then seven year old. He really wanted to be like his dad, who was running a half marathon. Being a nervous mom, I couldn’t let him do the Super Run by himself, so the choice was made. Soon our younger son wanted to join in and on we ran. Over the years we went in many different fun runs including Santa Shuffles, Hallowe’en Howls and Marathon Relays. We even ventured into a PEI Potato Blossom Run. Although my children have grown and gone on to other pursuits, I have stuck with running. Strangely, despite my protestations as a youth, it suits me. I have logged a fair number of miles over the years and learned a lot about myself in the process. Much of what I believe to be true about running has parallels to others areas of my life.
You need to find your own pace; trying to run at the wrong speed will exhaust your energies and leave you discouraged. I long ago resigned myself to the fact that in a world of thoroughbreds, I am a bit of a Clydesdale. I am not the fastest runner, nor will I ever be. If I were to dwell on the Lycra clad speedsters who leave me in their dust, I might be inclined to give up running for good. Focusing on what I can do, both in running and in my work allows me the grace to do something, and to do it to the best of my abilities.
Rather than comparing and despairing, setting goals for yourself and extending those limits builds a positive self-image and is integral to self improvement. My first goal was that Super Run and as lame as it might seem, I felt proud that I actually did it. The next goal was a relay leg and then a `10 K, followed by a half-marathon. Moving towards goals in our family, work or spiritual life can have the same effect, giving us a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
Often when I head out to run, I am alone and this solitude can be a gift. All of us need time alone to collect our thoughts, reflect and pray, whether we do this while running, sitting under a tree or kneeling in a church It he. Conversely, it is equally true that I benefit from running with friends. Working towards a common goal and receiving support through difficult patches has allowed me to accomplish more than I could have done alone, both on the trail and in life. We live in a bit of a tension between solitude and companionship; I think that it is about balancing time for both.
Running involves work and there is likely to be pain involved. As in other areas of life- parenting, marriage, careers- the rewards of the work are worth the effort involved. Sometimes it is even fun, cue the endorphins! The real trick is persevering through difficult times and having faith that things will improve if you continue to try, even walking for a bit if necessary. Still, most runners I know have experienced some type of damage, from simple strains to side-lining injuries. The truth is that none of us are exempt from the difficulties and struggles life brings. Discerning when to push through the hurts and when to take time to heal is an important skill in running and in life.
Running isn’t everyone’s thing, God knows I never expected it to be mine, but if I have managed to jog some reflection on life, then I have made it to this finish line. I hope that the summer provides you time to live at a more relaxed pace, with time for solitude and companionship, work and play, recuperation and recreation. Before we know it, we’ll be off and running with a new school year.
P.S. We are aiming for the Dunk River Run this summer in PEI. Maritime hills for a prairie girl, should be interesting!