Though I’ve been active most of my life, there was a period when I was more… idle. I had gained a bit of weight, felt more self-conscious, and in general, didn’t like how I looked and felt. This was about six or seven years back, when I was struggling to understand myself and what the hell I was doing with my life. I’m still trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life but things are clearer now haha.
Anyway, one day, I decided to take my ass running since it had been a while and I was tired of complaining about but not doing anything about where I was in life and health.
I pulled on my running shorts, sports bra, tank top, and socks. I slipped on my dusty running shoes, and tied and tucked them away the way I used to.
I headed out the door and started jogging. I felt good. I felt like the olden days haha. As I ran toward the big street, from the corner of my eye, I saw another runner start her route in the same direction as me.
Great, I thought, company. I preferred and still prefer to run alone. It wasn’t like this lady was going to join me on my run but I felt like I wanted to get away and do my thing without worrying about her speed or mine.
I thought to myself, This will be fine. I’ll probably outrun her anyway.
I know – so humble hahah.
But I felt so good running – why not? Plus I had my track and cross country background. I was relatively fit.
About 50 meters after we started on the same sidewalk, I could hear her behind me. First, it was faint. Then it became stronger. My heartrate rose just hearing her behind me. Now, I felt worried. I felt like I was racing her and… I was losing.
That was not an expected feeling lol.
Eventually, she caught up to me. The pain!! And self-embarrassment hahaa!
She exclaimed, Hey!
I answered, Hi!
It’s so nice to see another runner around here!
Are you training for anything?
No, not really, it’s been a while actually haha. Are you?
Yeah – I’m training for the [some city name – I can’t remember] marathon in [a couple months]!
And then she passed me with an Okay, well nice meeting you! Bye!
And I was left to choke on her virtual dust, doggedly jogging in self pity, mixed with mild humiliation and new-found humility. I felt so extremely lame. Like incredibly lame.
It was then that I realized I had been riding on my past mileage, my past fitness, strength, even talent. I thought that was enough to compete with another’s training, commitment, and discipline.
I had been so proud of myself and my previous feat that I had completely overlooked the un-sexy parts of running – that I have to maintain the practice. That it’s not enough to have known what it is to run. That it’s not enough to be able to talk about it. That what once was, now isn’t. And it’s going to take some sweat – or a lot of it, to get back to where I once was.
I realized I was bullshitting myself by thinking I could enjoy the triumph and full joy of running with every part of me without committing to it. Who was I kidding?
And even as I write about my running, I know, this also applies to my writing. I’m not saying I was this amazing writer in the past and am now riding on my past accomplishments. Ha.
I just realize even more that to be able to experience something so good as being in the flow, as producing more, as getting more ideas, I’ll need to actually put in work. There are so many moments when it’s just not sexy, just not… fun. There are so many moments when my mind feels like a blackhole, when my creativity feels as fertile as Death Valley.
I remember track and cross country practices. I remember those dog days, running in the afternoon after 6th period and during the summer. Sweat dripping, skin melting in the heat, eyes squinting, clothes clinging, feet swelling and heating up.
I remember dreading practices, dreading summer runs, heading out to different parks to run routes. I remember dreading even warmups. I was the greatest complainer on the team. #1, I tell you.
Do we really have to run a mile for warmup?? Yup that was me complaining to my coach and captains of a sport whose only activity is running.
But I showed up every practice. I always came out – except my senior year haha but that’s another story. I remember coming out to summer practices, wanting to punch someone in the throat but also not having enough energy to do something about it. I remember sprawling out on the grass after a run, chest heaving, mouth dry, legs jelly.
I remember everything I once did to reach competition condition. I was obsessed with it. I researched running shoes, stretched well after each run, bought racing gear more often than normal clothes. I remember purchasing my first track spikes, falling in love with the removable spikes, screwing them on before each race, taking them off after. I remember the sprints, practicing baton passes, racing with the boys when the coach wanted to mix things up. I remember feeling badass running the curve of the track, enjoying the power and strength of all the practices that led me to that point. I remember coming home with my legs streaked with sweat and grime from the dirt track.
Ha. And there I was. Getting schooled and getting surprised that I was getting schooled by this middle-aged lady practicing for her marathon.
Lol. I’m ridiculous.
After that incident, I stopped kidding myself. I knew there was no way I would feel entitled to feeling strong and badass doing anything without putting in time, energy, and sweat.
Two marathons later and one triathlon coming up, I’m way more aware of the work it takes to perform well. I will be applying this to other areas of life.
Thank you, lady who kicked my juvenile ass many years ago.