Today was a long day. It was a day full insecurities. I got so deeply into my own head that I just couldn’t see my way out. All day I felt like the slightest breath of doubt would send me over the edge.
And to my utter amazement, I found myself wanting to go for a run.
No. Needing to go for a run.
It was almost comical. Because if you had told me two years ago that my reaction to a stressful day would be to go for a run, I would have laughed and laughed. And then I probably would have eaten a cookie. And laughed some more.
I can’t explain to you when the change took place. When I switched from running because I needed to burn calories to running because I needed to clear my mind.
But what I can tell you is I rushed home from work today and changed into my running clothes.
I pulled a hat on my head, because I believe if it’s below 50 degrees, you absolutely need to run in a hat with a pom pom.
I pulled on my running tights (which I still don’t understand how they keep me warm, but I’ve stopped questioning it). My long-sleeved t-shirt. My puffy vest.
I laced my shoes tight.
And I was off.
Down the sidewalk, across the intersection, past the cold metal mailboxes dusted with crunchy snow. I concentrated on my breath, my stride. I kept my music quiet enough that I could still hear my feet pounding on the concrete.
Across another intersection. Cut through a muddy path that spits me out by the creek.
On the bridge my body finally feels like it loosens. As the mountains behind me grow navy blue in the twilight, I imagine my fears borne up on the frosty puffs of breath from my mouth.
I run into the park. Sometimes it’s filled with sledders cutting slick tracks down the hill.. Other times the field overflows with soccer players. But tonight it is quiet, a slim sliver of space where people are still driving home from work, children are doing their homework. I feel the best kind of alone. Like there are no witnesses to see the scales of sadness sloughing off of me. I imagine them shattering each time my shoe hits the sidewalk.
Up the hill, out of the park, across another bridge. I can turn right here, and almost be home. But instead I go straight, skirting icy patches that have formed under the pine trees. A right turn points me towards the mountains, darkened to inky purple.
The cars have their lights on now, and the shadows rush down the fences before sliding past me. My breath is ragged now. But I know one more hill, one more turn, one more intersection, and it is all downhill.
I just have to make it to the downhill.
There I will run faster and faster until I feel like I’m floating. Like the weight of everything that drove me to this run is scattered along my path.
My fear of loneliness fell off when I crossed from Dublin Boulevard to Rangewood Drive.
I left my crippling insecurity at the intersection of Downill and Flintridge.
And I shook off the last bit of second-guessing at the corner of Banjo Drive.
I don’t understand it, this new way of running. But I just know that when I untie my shoes with fingers numb from the cold, a weight has been lifted.
I hope you can find the thing that helps you shed the things that hinder you.
So you can run the race.