I have more running shoes in my closet than high heels and my laundry days are dictated by the number of running shorts left on my shelf. I can open my door and leave my house to run with no gear, no goals, and no set distance, direction, or speed. I just run. It’s that simple.
I have run through the hottest of summer days and the coldest of winters. With kid-like enthusiasm I will joyously run through fresh rain, worries trailing behind me like wet footprints on the pavement.
Running makes my heart race with excitement and my body sizzle with the purist form of adrenalin. I define myself as a runner and I’m certain it is written as part of the code in my DNA. It shapes a piece of my own self-image, and offers me gifts of meaning in life, imparting on me a true sense of what it means to have passion and drive.
Not unlike any other life passion, running teaches me lessons that go far beyond the distance that my legs have travelled. It is a runners mindset to endure. To press forward no matter what the pace. To go beyond the limits of what your mind tells you that that you can achieve. It is a runners mindset to focus. To get really uncomfortable and to try something that she isn’t quite sure she can achieve. It is in a runner’s mind to know that even in her weaker moments she is still strong. That the journey is long and that the joy comes in the silent breaths of freedom along the way.
My legs have paced me through 25 years of my adult life, stretching thousands of kilometres and through countless life events. Running has fuelled me through some challenging bumps along the road of my life’s timeline, most significantly during personal dark times of struggle through infertility and divorce.
Today, as it stands, I am injured and I’m not running. I’ve been injured before. It’s part of the grind on the body, and it never feels good when it forces you to stop doing what you love. But, if my knees could talk they’d be telling me that they’ve got years of wear and tear on them, and they need to recover. For weeks now I’ve sat in the misery of it. I’ve cried. I’ve denied. I’ve been angry at my body, and I’ve downplayed it all to my friends and my family. But in truth, being unable to run feels like a piece of me is lost. You see, I’ve always been able to find myself in running.
The decision to leave the road for a bit is not something that a runner can do without a real mental struggle and without deep sadness. But with a nod of respect to my body, I’m thankful for what it has enabled me to do and I’ll be graciously allowing it the proper time to heal. Reluctantly, I’ll be tucking my running shoes into the corner for a while, stepping off the land that I know and love, and teaching myself to swim.