The other night I went out for a run. It was a hot Summer evening, about 29 degrees Celsius (84 Fahrenheit). The humidity was high, but there was a slight breeze, so it was not too bad. In any case, things always seem better when I am on my way to go running.
I have been running on and off for about six or seven years. I have never been particularly religious about it, and have had long periods where I slacked off and didn’t exercise at all. These have often been followed, new-years resolution style, with periods of increased, unsustainable, and probably harmful exercise. Which leads back into inactivity. I know that running is probably not the greatest form of exercise. It can be solitary, it can be hard on the body. But I’m always drawn back to it. And at the end of the day you have to do what you love.
Generally I tend to go at things like a bull at a gate, which frequently ends badly. The same is true for running, I usually start quickly, which is sometimes okay, and sometimes not. But this night I decided to take some advice I’d received about starting out very slow.
It felt good. My legs gradually got used to the run, and despite going slower than usual, I was still running faster than most of the other joggers I encountered. Our bodies are designed to move, and there is nothing quite like running.
I didn’t push myself, I just listened to my body and enjoyed the run. I felt my feet hitting the ground, felt my posture straighten, felt myself breathing in and out. I heard the cicadas in the trees, felt the breeze running through my hair, and felt the relief as I sweated all the stress and toxins out of my body. I felt alive.
When I reached the end of my run I stretched, and sat to enjoy the moment. I have so many things that I should be grateful for, but instead I usually wind up feeling inadequate, like I just don’t measure up. So I push myself more and more, until I fall in a heap, physically or mentally.
But I think I am done with those days now. I am myself, for better or worse, and I will never be anyone else. All the self-loathing, all the “should haves”, all the pushing myself to breaking point hasn’t helped. Slow and steady may not win the race, but it can make the difference between getting to the finish line or falling by the wayside. Slow, and steady. And never give up.