global running day

 

They have one of these "days" for everything now, don't they? I can't say I mind this one - there's not a lot to dislike about a day that promotes something that brings health, friendly competition and great friendships into the lives of so many!

My relationship with running has been so hectic over the last year. For every time I ended a workout with a giant smile on my face, there were countless moments of frustration, tears, self-doubt and the gripping pattern of negativity that seems to haunt injured runners.

As I type this, I'm watching a little boy run through a park with pure joy on his face. He's barefoot, it's sunny, and all he knows is that running - that moving his body - is making him happy. And when it comes down to it, that's what every run should be about. While a big (and fun) part of being a runner is training, logging mileage, figuring out the diet that works for you, and toeing the start line at race day, the best moments and miles come from the ones driven by the pure joy of moving.

I've been working really hard to reframe my relationship with running over the last few months. It's hard to be in a headspace where an activity that should cause jubilation, pure and simple, is fraught with tension and stress.

What I've learned is that, just like there's no right way to have a runner's body, there's no right way to have a relationship with running. You don't have to be obsessed with marathons to be a runner. You don't have to ever run a race to be a runner. You don't need to have a social media following that tells you that you're #fitspo to be a runner. You know what you do need? Sneakers. A smile. Probably a sports bra, if you're a woman. 

And if you're working at having a healthy relationship with running, you are so not alone. There are so many of us putting insane pressure on ourselves to hit a certain time, and judging ourselves when we don't. There are so many of us stressing about how we eat, what we look like, what kind of outfit we can wear, if we can't hit our self-imposed training and workout schedule exactly. There are so many of us sitting at work, chewing on our nails, because we just realized we've double-booked and won't be able to get that evening run in, after all.

What Global Running Day makes me want to do is take a deep breath, and be more like the little boy I saw running in the park. Let's face it: the vast majority of us are never going to be elite, Olympic-qualifying runners. So at the end of the day, if your mile time bumps up a little higher than you'd like on a certain outing, it's okay. You still moved. You still pushed yourself. That's the only victory you need.

While running has indirectly caused me serious heartache, it's also given me some of the biggest gifts - and lessons - of my life. So many of the friends that I love dearly have come into my life directly because we were both runners. It's given me the gift of training, running races, or just heading out for a few weekend miles with my mother, adding a special new dimension to an already close relationship. I mean, I got to run a marathon with my mom by my side, running it too - how many people can say that? 

And running has also taught me the importance of patience, and of personal strength and fortitude. It's taught me that you can't half-ass anything in life, and you also can't simply will yourself to a goal or a result: you have to work for it. You have to work to heal from a break, you have to work to go from learning to walk again to learning to run again, you have to work to hit your race times, and you have to work to trust and listen to your body.

If you told me that I could never experience breaking my hip, but I would have to never be a runner, I'd choose breaking my hip and knowing the joy of running every time. Is that insane? Maybe a little. But I think it also shows the strength, grace and courage that one can develop under challenge. I think it shows the inherent beauty in chasing the love of the run.

So, happy Global Running Day! And happy miles.