Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A New Era of Running

Toward the end of 2019, I was beginning to wonder where my head was at. I had thought that by the time I was two years post-op, I would be ready to train for a big race again. But there I was, torn: I wanted to want to run another marathon, but I didn't actually want to.

Any time I tried to set a training schedule or increase my mileage, I felt resistant to my own plans and goals. My heart just wasn't in it, and I couldn't figure out why.

I nearly found that motivation in January 2020, but then the flu killed it. I barely got around to training for Gasparilla, and while I enjoyed that race and the accomplishment I felt after each long run, I didn't really enjoy the training itself.

I told Nicole on her podcast that I was in a weird spot with my running. I intended to grapple with this feeling and figure out what I wanted this spring.

And then COVID-19 made its way stateside and everything went pear-shaped.

Suddenly, I was working from home. Suddenly, I was dealing with the mental exhaustion of worrying about my friends and family constantly. Suddenly, the only time I could get out of the house was for a run.

Faced with isolation, anxiety, fear, constant other-thinking, and an uncertain future, I finally found peace in my running. I have literally no desire to build distance and stamina, no desire to work on speed. And I finally feel like that's acceptable.

In the evenings, my brain feels tired and overwrought. I step out into my backyard and cover the same two or three miles. The familiarity is easy. My brain can rest. My legs do the work. The push and pull of air into my lungs is reassuring.

As long as I can run, I know I'm healthy. I know I'm making it through another day.

Right now, running is a solace. That's all it is. It's a wonderful, freeing thing, to run without purpose, to run for such a basic reason and such pure need. It feels so simple.

When I see others out there, we give each other a wide berth and wave. There is a feeling of camaraderie in the space between us.

Today, Governor DeSantis finally called for a stay-home order for Floridians. It begins Thursday at midnight. Schools are closed until at least April 30, probably longer. I know this is far from over.

I have never felt so grateful for running in my life; it is life-affirming and absolutely keeping me functional. Stripped down to its most basic self, running is exactly what I need, and I finally feel like I can just enjoy it for the sake of enjoying it.


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