In this holiday season, as we prepare to bestow gifts to each other and ring in another year, I’d like to be honest about something. Something that as a running writer and as a self-proclaimed “runner”, it’s hard to admit:
Sometimes running is just plain hard!
Sometimes it’s not fun.
Sometimes I want to quit.
Lately, it’s become increasingly more difficult for me to run. As I head into my third trimester and the pounds multiply, I don’t feel like the agile athlete who so happily laced up her running shoes day after day for years on end. For the first time in my life, I find myself feeling a bit of dread for the miles ahead. It’s no longer all rainbows and sunshine. Although when I think back over my 15-year love affair with running, I guess it never really was all rainbows and sunshine.
That’s when I remember, there’s a reason nobody ever Instagrams the sweaty, legs shaking, climbing the hill, sucking wind moments. Well, not most people. We tend to post photos of the beautiful sunset along the path, the mileage on the watch after it’s all over, the medal or the hands in the air at the finish line. Those other moments are icky, they’re daunting, they’re not the ones you want to pull your camera out to capture for posterity.
But those moments are damn good, too. Those quiet minutes when it’s just you and your breath and your blood pumping in your ears. Those are the moments that define us as runners, that make us stronger, challenge us, push us to want to do more, be more.
And it’s this mentality that has keeps me (and I’m sure you) pushing on, mile after mile (no matter how slow), week after week; to my own quiet finish line. It’s all those miles that have gifted me with tenacity and perseverance. They’ve taught me to dig deeper when the road curves skyward, instead of simply giving up and they remind me of how sweet the end of a run can be.
So if you’re out there struggling – to come back from a running hiatus, recover from an injury, run through a pregnancy, shed that extra weight, push two kids along in the heavy stroller, adapt to a new training routine, or acclimate to another candle on the birthday cake – remember that you’re still succeeding, you’re still a runner. It doesn’t matter how slow you go, how painful the miles are, how many people pass you. Whatever distance you’ve traveled, it means something and will continue to mean something.
So yes, sometimes running can be just plain hard.
And no fun.
And sometimes I want to quit.
But I won’t. That’s the gift of running.