After completing a half marathon I was posed the question by my good friend Elaine, “Why would anyone run that far if they weren’t being chased?” I have since pondered that question and some days haven’t been able to come up with a good answer. However, after careful consideration, a few things have come to the forefront of my mind.
Running makes me feel strong. Over time I have come to see and feel the actual muscle in my legs and as my endurance has increased I feel the strength coming from within. Finishing a long run brings such a feeling of accomplishment. It proves to myself that I can overcome physical obstacles that I previously thought would be impossible. Occasionally there is that “runners’ high” that cannot be accurately described without experiencing it for yourself. It is the point where you feel as if you could run forever and feel great doing it. It is the point where your lungs don’t feel as if they’re going to burst and your feet feel like they might not even be touching the pavement. Other physical advantages include being able to sleep better, a stronger heart, being able to keep up with my kids, and a general sense of well being. When I run consistently I don’t seem to get sick. Although running was once used exclusively as a weight loss tool, that has taken a back seat to all the other benefits I’ve received.
Running has great mental advantages. Running is sometimes the only moment I have to be alone in the day. It has been a great time to work out problems in my mind, to think of a child’s particular need, or time to think of a great date with my hubby.
Running has provided me with a great sense of accomplishment. Seeing the progress in being able to run one minute straight to the rejoicing of over one mile to being able to run twenty miles is so great! Whatever the milestones or measurements are being used, progress can be seen after the daily work has been put in. Running has taught me patience. I have come to learn that injuries are sometimes inevitable. Taking the proper recovery time and listening to my body when my mind says, “go!” has definitely taught me patience. Speed hasn’t come as fast for me as I would like, but in retrospect, the progress made is amazing. Running has taught me that great things don’t usually happen in a short amount of time or with little effort. But as we plug away, little by little, step by small step, great things and many miles will pass.
Running has shown me how much I am loved. I have been surrounded by so much support. My dear husband not only helps out around the house while I’m gone, he has encouraged me every step of the way. He’s brought me sunglasses, water, gels, you name it, to me out on the road. He’s given me the support I need to reach my goals. The first race I was in was a 10k that finished along Main Street during a parade. My husband and kids sat at the finish line area. I’d never seen a more beautiful sight than my entire family on their feet, cheering waiting to greet me. It made it all worthwhile. My husband doesn’t complain about all the time I’m gone or the money for shoes and special clothing that I “need”. He’s been my cheerleader all along the way. He has truly shown his love for me.
I have seen true friendship. My best friend Holly, has been there for me on short fast runs, on slow long runs, and there on my most discouraging run, where if she had not been there, I would have just gone home. When she can’t run, she’ll bike along side me. She has kept me going, has encouraged me, and been there by my side. She’s seen me cry in pain and cry from disappointment, throw up from overexertion, and rejoice in success.
The power to endure is within all of us. Sometimes we just have to feel the despair to find the strength within us. It’s the opposition that helps us to see the good. See, I love the lessons I learn while running!