“Stepping into that place of risk had felt momentous. I’d felt light and free, as if I was going after something instead of holding back.” -Deena Kastor, Let Your Mind Run
As winter dwindles, the darkness before sunrise has lost some of its punch. My fellow early-morning runners, isn’t this the best?
I was trotting along in this darkness a couple of mornings ago, feeling not quite as great as the day before but still good. I relished the feeling, especially as these days came on the heels of an eternity of slogs (in reality, about four days, but STILL).
My mind drifted. Some mornings I do okay mentally: I think grateful thoughts, I pray, I plan the day ahead. Other days, well…it hits me that Carrie Bradshaw didn’t even have e-mail until season four, and just let that sink in. Other days, mentally, I’m pretty sure I’m still asleep. It’s probably for the better that these runs don’t involve crossing any major intersections.
My point is, being present during my runs is something I’m working on. On this particular run, I turned a corner and began ascending a long, gradual hill, one I’ve come to know well, whether in daylight or darkness. It’s gentle, so it’s not too much of a shock, but it commands attention by the end. It’s firm but fair. It’s a polite hill.
As I climbed, my mind still drifted, but as I again noticed and appreciated the non-leaden feeling of my legs, I thought, Hey, let’s not waste this. What would happen if I pushed myself on this hill instead of simply making it to the top? I get a little tired? So what?
So I did. I pumped my arms and legs and lungs. I ran hard up that hill. I wondered if the commuters even noticed. Who cared? This wasn’t for them.
I focused only on running, on forward motion, on the brutal pleasure of striving, of breaching the zone of safe-easy-adequate. I hit the top, panting, and nodded at the crescent moon.
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that it’s in us. Sometimes going for it, even if only for a little while, is absolutely worth it.