And so it goes. My love/hate relationship with running continues. I love to hate it, and hate to admit (to myself and to others) that I love it. Why? Because if I say I love it I will have to keep running. I will have to keep being a runner, and I’m still not sure that is what I want to be.
I flip and I flop, but I continue to run. I just do it. I don’t ever feel like it. I sign up to run races because it keeps my exercise motivation level up and that’s about it. I don’t ever expect that I will increase my speed or distance by much. It’s nice when I shave off some seconds here and there, but that’s not my purpose for running races. I do it because I can put it on my calendar, and when it’s done, I feel good. For a while I kept thinking that after a year or so of running regularly, I would really begin to love it. But, I don’t. And I’ve made peace with the fact that I may not ever love it. In the same way I hate going to the dentist, I also know that it’s good for me, and that’s why I go. I can breathe easy when it’s over (running and the dentist) and go about the rest of my day.
So if I don’t like it, and never will, why is “down time” so difficult for me? Why is it that I miss it more than ever when I can’t do it? You would think that during the times that I can’t run (like when I’m injured or have other plans) I would party like a rock star because, hey, I can’t run today, it’s not that I don’t want to. Well, all I can offer up as an answer to that question is that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, plain and simple.
When I was injured, I longed to run again. I was angry that I couldn’t run. Here’s why:
- Running is the one thing I can do physically, every day or two, that makes me unequivocally proud.
- I enjoy my life more when I “put in a quality day” and putting in a quality day often means I’ve committed to running at some point. And when it’s over, my day actually gets better and becomes more productive.
- I know that for me, running is burdensome most of the time, and that’s okay. It’s okay that I don’t want to do it, and half the battle of going for a run is simply lacing up and setting out. But, if I do it, I feel good because I did a difficult thing – a thing I don’t love that is good for me – and now it’s done.
- Being productive and useful in other capacities throughout my day doesn’t always fill the void. What’s missing? Sometimes what is missing is being outside, in the fresh air, with blood pumping through my veins, and my legs churning away. Breathing hard, and not thinking for a little while is what my soul needs, and usually my soul is the last in line to receive what it needs. I feed my soul to fill the void.
- Running, for me, is a form of surrender. Making changes in my life involved a bit of surrender. Surrender is doing something you don’t want to do, at all, because you know that big picture happiness comes from the fact that you can’t always get what you want (see You Can’t Always Get What You Want). Surrender, for me, is about humility and recognizing that, as a human being, I can either succumb to doing the work to make myself feel good, or I can keep doing whatever I want, and not feel very good at all.
So, what keeps you running? It’s okay if you love it. I don’t. And that’s okay, too.