I’ll be honest, running and I have had a complicated relationship lately. On one hand, there have been days – more than I’d like to admit – when it feels like running is just one more item on a long to-do list. One more thing to check off, one more task to just get done. On the other hand, during frenetic times like the holidays, my appreciation for running increases tenfold. It doesn’t matter if I do a bare minimum distance, or run a little faster than wisdom would dictate because of a tight schedule. I go for a run. Why? Frankly, I’m starting to finally learn the true value of “me time” and, as so many other runners already know, running offers a spectacular means to that end. I cling to that notion and because I do, I’m thankfully able to keep running on a basis that kinda-sorta resembles regular.
So the runs get done. Even when they feel like a chore.
It’s funny, though, how the light can shine through and bop you right on the nose when you least expect it. It happens a lot this time of year. You know what I mean: when you’re running late, stuck in traffic, ready to tear the fake reindeer antlers from the hood of a stranger’s car, and then all of a sudden your favorite version of “Silent Night” comes on the radio. Or you’re standing in line at Starbucks, twitching because the person in front of you ordered seven eggnog lattes, and then you learn that they’ve paid for your order. Stuff like that.
It happens in running, too.
Like I said, my running has lately had a “just do it” tinge. Nothing particularly poetic (except for gorgeous New Mexico sunsets); not even any creative new running routes. But the other day, I was running along in the cold late-afternoon air, thinking about a thousand different things, wiping my nose with my gloved hand, when I felt something in my legs.
No, nothing bad. A pep. I felt a pep in them. The best comparison I can think of is that very first warm-ish breeze, towards the end of winter, that means spring will come. It doesn’t mean that it will come the next day, or that there won’t be any more freezes, but that spring will come eventually. It’s a tiny promise, but a glorious one.
Right before the start of marathon training, it’s common for runners to feel a little uncertain. Whether or not they’ve run marathons before, the questions arise: “Can I do this? Can I go from running however I want to running based on a training plan? Is there room in my life for marathon training?”
What a pleasant surprise, then, to be running along, and then suddenly realize that instead of reflecting your mental doubts, your legs at that moment feel downright energetic! Like you could turn a four-mile run into an eight-miler, easily!
My legs that day were like that kind person at Starbucks. They were like that first warm breeze.
Marathon training begins for me in a little over a week. I’m a little uncertain, and winter will remain for a while, but I’m keeping that peppy run in my heart.
It was a tiny promise, but a glorious one.