Last Friday, I ran 15 miles for the first time ever. I was, of course, thrilled and wanted to post about it right away, but during the run, a million thoughts went through my head that I wanted to write about, so I waited and then we went to Disneyland, and I waited to put my thoughts together, and here we are over a week later and I still haven’t written about it. Whoops.
This run was different because every distance I had done up until this point was clearly in preparation to be able to run 13.1 miles on January 15th. Well, you don’t need to run 15 to know you can run 13. I chose, for no other reason than the fact that I wanted to, to run 15 miles. Crazy? Probably. It’s funny because the first 10 miles went so unbelievably well. This was my first long run since PF Chang’s and I was trying to listen to what the training plans say about taking your long runs nice and slow. Steve even came with me on his bike and rode next to me for the entire distance which was awesome! Around mile 7 I felt so good that I began to even consider going a longer distance (did I mention that I’m crazy?), but of course around mile 10, I started to feel it and get tired.
By mile 13, I just really wanted to be finished, and by mile 14 I was yelling and cursing at Steve asking him why I ever decided to do this in the first place. But then, that made me really thing–why?? I mean, of course I knew a few reasons:
- I feel awesome and accomplished every time I conquer a new distance or hit a speed goal.
- It is so much better than any piece of cardio equipment.
- I love the social aspect of being outdoors with friends and getting my work out in at the same time.
- It makes me feel like a little bit of a bad ass to walk around saying “Oh yeah, I ran ___ miles today.”
But I also know that none of those are the biggest reason deep down. I started to think about my attitude and feelings towards food, exercise and my body when I began running in October. They were vastly different than they are now. Going out to eat caused me to go into a panic. I meticulously counted every single calorie. My entire view of my body, and sometimes my worth, was based on whatever number the scale read that morning. I was absolutely miserable.
Then I started running. And my number-focused mind started seeing clear numerical results in something other than the scale. Something much more within my control. I am someone who has a hard time believing they have achieved something. It’s like my brain requires evidence. Proof. Facts. I feel like that is how I got so wrapped into what the scale said when I started losing weight. I would get on and see the evidence of my efforts. Until that stopped, and no matter how hard I worked,
I had nothing to show for it the scale didn’t show it. Now I have a place where I can see my hard work adding up and paying off. It’s apparent in so many ways, but when I am lacking in confidence and self doubt sneaks in, I still have that proof in numbers that no one can’t argue with that I have accomplished something.
I realized while running that last mile that at moments felt like torture, that more than all of the pain and exhaustion, I felt free. Running gives me freedom. And I realized just how big of a blessing it has been on my life, and how lucky I am to have found something positive that brings me a sense of joy and accomplishment.
Then yesterday I ran 12 miles, and you know what? It really sucked. It was my first long run that I legitimately ended feeling like it sucked. I wore the wrong shorts and had no body glide and by half way through, my inner thighs were rubbed raw and I had to call my step dad to come and pick me up. I thought maybe the little break at the half way point would make the next 6 miles easier, but it made them like a million times harder. By the time I got to my house, the last thing I felt like doing was going back out and running more, but I went out and my legs felt like lead. I had to get my body warmed up all over again and it was already tired, and I was not happy about it.
Then of course my ipod and headphones kept getting tangled in my camelback and falling out and getting in my way, and at one point I literally stopped and repeated the F word about 6 times before giving myself a little pep talk that I had to finish whether I liked it or not, and it would suck a lot less if I could get a freakin attitude adjustment! I told myself to pull it together, and I finished my damn 12 miles, but I was not happy about it. I was grumpy and cranky that it hadn’t gone well, and I felt frustrated and of course on top of all of it, my achilles tendons were hurting worse than they have hurt in a long time. Okay, you get the point, it really sucked.
It would have been so easy to give up at the 6 mile mark when I had to come home and change, but I made a commitment, and I remembered all of those feelings that came to the surface the week before, and even though I did not necessarily enjoy this particular run, it was that discovery of why that powered me through, and in the end I felt a different kind of pride. I felt proud for not giving up when I easily could have, and it only further cemented the sense of freedom I discovered the week before.
And that is why I run, and why I think I will always run. Every day I am beyond thankful that I have a body that is capable of carrying me for miles at a time. I am strong, healthy and capable regardless of whether or not I actually ever make it to my “goal weight”. I have bigger and better goals these days!