Do you have a running route that evokes certain memories? I had an opportunity on Tuesday to run one of my original routes that I would take when I first started running over 4 years ago. Although I no longer live in that particular area, my children had an activity there. I took advantage of the time to myself to run (and goodness sake, did I need it after the start of this week!). After signing them in, I strapped on my watch, plugged in my earbuds, stretched a little, and I was off.
I have always loved this route, which is along a relatively busy stretch of road in Amherst. There are no sidewalks, so I run on the side of the road, watching the cars go by, feeling part of the traffic. The route is basically a large square, and there are no little side streets or turns to slow my pace or break my stride. I feel like it is just the road and me, and I love it.
My head was filled with many memories as I was running, and this was the first run I’ve had in a long time where I completely lost myself in thought. I remembered how happy I would feel when I was able to escape my house and hit the pavement. It was total freedom, and I relished every second. I remembered the unhappiness that fueled my reasons to run. I remembered confusion and feeling as though I was running from one thing while running to another. I remembered the thrill of the first time I was able to run the entire distance and the newness of running. Back then, my only accessory was an mp3 player, and it is the same one I still use today with all of those same songs on my playlist (I have a nice iPod, but I’m still waiting for this one to bite the dust before making the switch). No fancy GPS watch or expensive shoes or specific running clothes, and I had never even heard of Gu or BodyGlide or foam rollers. My thoughts shifted to today and how thankful I was to be in my current position. In terms of my personal life, I am happy, and I know that life will never be perfect. I need to do a better job of remembering this. Running wise, I have made huge strides, going from recreational/therapy running to completing four marathons, soon-to-be three half marathons, and countless other races. Where I used to struggle, I now feel strong and confident. My run Tuesday was not only fast (in my terms, at least…8:33 pace) but completely effortless.
One of the things I love about running is that while it is a sport with a very supportive community, it is, at least for me, a solitary activity. I don’t run with a group or another person, and I have no desire to train that way. Running is my “me time,” and I enjoy the quiet. I also enjoy knowing that any successes or failures are of my own doing, no one else’s. If I put in the time, training, and effort, I can expect results that are purely my own. I essentially get out of running what I put into it.
I’ve covered a lot of ground in my time as a runner, and it has helped me learn a lot about myself. Running has allowed me to celebrate numerous accomplishments that tested not only my physical strength but mental strength, too. It has been my form of therapy for trying times. On a regular basis, it helps clear my head, sort things out, and alleviate anxiety and anger. I don’t think there is much a good run can’t fix. It brings a sense of calm that I don’t get from any other activity. Looking back, I’m happy to be where I am and proud of how far I’ve come.