So I really mean it this time. Since I began at the end of April, these few realizations have pushed me to the other side as a true believer in the power of running:
#1). It gets easier . . . but it's always going to be hard.
It gets easier. Of course it gets easier as your body begins to adjust. Your muscles lose that initial soreness that accompanies any new physical endeavor. Your flexibility and your stamina increase. Breathing comes easier. You could barely finish a mile when you began . . . and now five is routine. But . . . for me, at least, it's always a little hard. And when it's not . . . I'll push a little harder. . . to be a little faster . . . to run a little longer . . . go a little farther. That's what it's all about . . . the hard work, and the dip your feet in the ocean kind of rewards that come with the endings and over time.
Strength. Stamina. Energy. Health. That knowing I'll be around longer to do more -- to be more -- feeling. Better metabolism. Enjoying a glass of wine with a friend after a run without knowing it's going straight to my hips. Smaller clothes. A bigger life. More adventures.
I want all of that.
I want the hard work because I REALLY want ALL of that.
#2.)The first mile is a liar . . . just keep going
Every once in a while, I have an easy run. From start to finish. It's as if a magic running fairy came in during the night and sprinkled magic fairy running dust over me. My breathing is easy. My stride is perky. The wind is at my back. I feel just like a real runner. Every once in a GREAT while this happens. Usually . . . I'm about a mile in (about 12 minutes for me) before my breathing and my muscles come together to create a rhythm in my stride that will sustain me for the next few miles.
Just hold on . . . Just wait for it.
And on really good days, that's when some real magic happens. I had been running for about a month the first time it happened. I was somewhere between my second and third mile when I zoned out and began writing in my head. Yes, writing. It's what else I do;) It took me a minute to realize what I was doing . . . and another half second to celebrate the fact that my mind was free enough from the struggle to go somewhere else. Multi-tasking;)
Just. Keep. Going.
#3).There's always a reason why it's harder . . . or easier.
Conversely, there are days when my run is unusually difficult . . . sometimes from beginning to end. My hips ache and my lungs are on fire . . . sweat blurs my vision and I'm counting every step, every second til it's over. It's not random. And for a new runner, not without value . . . these are the days that force you to evaluate a checklist of all of the factors that play into a good run. Heat is a killer. A good run requires an intentional amount of water and sleep. Alcohol dehydrates. Importantly for me, when was my last visit to my chiropractor? I can tell you I have never eaten a better diet in my whole life. Protein shakes and vinegar/ lemon water with greens seems to have some effect on eliminating sugar cravings (I'm guessing) that will ultimately cause a crash . . . and knowing that a piece of cheesecake could negate all of the calories burned in a single run is a great deterrent. Also, I may have lost a few pounds since April . . . which is making running easier lately;)
Figure it out.
And just keep going.
#4). Attitude and intentionality are the tipping points of success.
I'll be honest. Most days I don't feel like running. Some days I dread it. It hurts. I'm too busy. I just want to eat potato chips . . . take a nap. But once I committed . . . that third time . . . I knew something would have to be different in my attitude and intentionality. I don't think about the dread now. I just do it. And plan when I will do it. And do it. When I visited my brother in Chicago, I ran along the shoreline. When I vacationed in Florida, I ran on the beach. One day I ran five miles in the rain. I don't think about all the reasons I can't or won't or shouldn't. A few times, my right leg fell asleep from my hip to the bottom of my foot at about the second mile mark. I just dragged it along behind me the rest of the way, and made an appointment to see my chiropractor. I tell myself there just aren't any more excuses.
I mean it this time.
I'm. Not. Quitting.
#5).You'll never regret a run
Running is HARD (did I say that already?), but the only regret I have ever had after a run (once I made up my mind to be a runner) is not pushing myself harder. I have overheated, run in pain, drowned an IPhone, bled through my shorts, locked myself out of my house, run with a bug in my eye, been chased by a homeless man, and ogled by teenage boys young enough to (almost) be my grandsons . . . and I am only just getting started (how much fun is still yet to come?:)! I have literally wrung my sports bra out after battling the sun, lain immobile on the floor for an hour with my dogs walking over me in distraught concern, and crawled to the shower. But every single run ends with some sense of exhilaration and accomplishment in direct correlation with how hard I worked.
How blessed am I (are we) to get that for free?!