Physically, mentally, emotionally – I’ve thought it in every way. Strange coming from me, who’s entire life once revolved around running.
Running was not just my childhood sport and pastime, it was my identity. I wasn’t tall enough (or more likely, coordinated enough), for the popular sports like basketball and volleyball, and I didn’t have the resources for the costly sports like dance or tennis. As for anything in the arts? I only wish! I believe you need either ability or interest (if not both), and in that field, I had neither. Sooo, running it was….and I have to say it was a strategic choice, as the sport of distance running literally became my ticket to a bigger world (via a full athletic scholarship to a great division one private university in the United States).
Note: one of the special things about running, is that you don’t have to be ‘seen’, there is little subjectivity in the sport – a time on a track, is a time on a track, anywhere. And the winner is straightforward: you cross the finish line first: you win.
However, what I know, and what I realized I always knew was that I don’t think I ever truly loved running, not when I really ‘could run’ that is. It was exactly what I described above, my clam to ‘fame’ (aka identity), and my ticket. It was the only thing I was really good at and garnered attention with, heck, it even got me awards, records, money, pictures in magazines… so I stuck with it…
I once heard that winning can be a curse, because there is nowhere to go but down. I’m not sure I agree with that entirely, but I will say, running put a pressure on me, like no other. It was a daily battle – and the real battle was in my head. I actually recall race days with chills, as I used to feel sick to my stomach with nerves – often I was tired, my body would ache, and the pressure to perform in a way that literally sucks the lungs right out of you was sometimes unbearable. But, god help me, I didn’t want to fail at the one thing I knew. So I kept running, literally kept running until I could no longer run anymore.
My running career was cut short, with an injury that threatened to end my running days altogether and would absolutely end my competitive career as I knew it. I don’t talk much about this part of my background, and many people don’t even know that my foray into fitness came from my background as a runner – but that is the truth, and it was the BEST thing that ever happened to me.
I wanted to write this, NOT as a story of tragedy, or to garner sympathy but rather because from this specific life changing experience, I learned the biggest lesson of my life It shaped not only who I would become, and how I look at the world, but what I have chosen to do with my life (shout out to the tens of thousands of Fit Strong and Sexy women around the world)! The fact that I have decided to sign up for my first ‘fun 5k run’ in so many years is symbolic of the message I want to…need to share, in hopes it will resonate with you in some way.
What I gained from having running taken away was the realization of how much benefit it brings, there is a reason there is NO greater metaphor for life: overcoming challenges, obstacles, rising above and uniting with other people than through a race, a race by foot, which requires only you, your body, your spirit, your energy.
Whether your challenges have been physical, mental, financial, physiological – we ALL have struggles, and the point is that we cannot compare them or give them a hierarchy. Rather we must focus of getting over the hurdles, getting back up, focusing on what we CAN do vs what we can’t.
A friend, and someone I deeply admire, asked me to sign up for this ‘fun music race’, and something inside me was re-lit, and for the first time, without even THINKING about it, I just signed up, no questions asked! (if you know me, this is even more shocking). You see, running is a catalyst for positive change in ones life and it has a positive rippling effect on the world around you. I am going in this Saturday with the goal of being mentally present, gracious that I am physically able to be there to do this, and to bask in the amazing energy of everyone else who is signing up, showing up and putting one foot in front of the other.
OH, and the added bonus is there is a live music, and festival portion! What? The Music Run (#themusicrun) is taking the synergy of a race and positive energy to a new level. I have chills just thinking about it.
It’s not too late, I JUST signed up this week – if you don’t have pressing plans this weekend, join me, or please share your support, and I’ll do the same!
And if interested, please post a comment on my facebook page, and let’s coordinate future ‘fun runs’ in cities across America!