Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year to run outside! It’s so breathtakingly beautiful and serene. How could you not fall in love with running with the bright sun, crisp air, and leaves falling around you in your path?
I used to be so awful at running. It was probably the most ungraceful, uncomfortable thing to watch as a bystander. I’m cringing just thinking about it. Wow, I really hated it. I was always very athletic and had a sport for every season, but somehow I just didn’t have the stamina for long distance running. I used to play soccer, so in the fall we would be running laps around the field, and my lungs would burn from the trying to breathe in the crisp air. I ran out of energy fast and I would get frustrated with myself, wondering why the hell I couldn’t just run with ease.
I went to an elite basketball camp for a week during the summer of my sophomore year. We did drills that pushed us physically and mentally. In the last two minutes of the day after going at 100% for 9 hours, when we were dripping in sweat, red faced, and absolutely exhausted, the coach would yell, “It’s overtime! This is it. Are you going to slow down? No! You’re going to pick up the intensity! Push through. Rise above. Pick it up! Leave it all right here!” My feet felt like led, and I thought that I couldn’t make it another second. Somehow, I did rise above. My feet did move faster, and I did push myself harder. It taught me that my body is capable of so much more. So now, whenever I’m on a run and my lungs are on fire, my feet are heavy, and my legs are sore, I push through. I rise above. I give it my all. Actually, whenever I have the thought of stopping, I sprint for 30 seconds. That gives me the burst of energy to keep it moving. It shows me how much energy I really have.
Derek loved to run, and his sister is the same way. They are so good at it, I never understood when he was here, because I just could not find a way to enjoy it. He was so unbelievably fast, he seriously flew up and down the field at his soccer games. I used to love to watch him soar so effortlessly. Shortly after he gained his angel wings, I started to run. Every time I would get tired, I would say to myself, “This is for Derek. One more mile for him. ” So, I would push forward. Then I would get to the end of that mile I promised I would run for him, and I would push for more. As strange as it sounds, I would pray about him as I ran. I would pray that he was with me. I would picture him running beside me with ease, telling me I could do it, being my strength in my weakness, and keeping those thoughts of self-doubt at bay. I know it sounds crazy, but it was how I felt most connected to him. I ran to him, hoping that with each passing mile I could feel him with me, and I always did.
Moral of the story: I used to despise running. not only did I hate it, but I truly sucked at it. I would have to stop often and got tired early into it. I learned to love it by learning the strength of my body. I learned to love it when I realized that my body is more powerful than my mind allows me to realize at times. I learned to love it when I realized that when I think I am at the end of my rope, that I am spent and tired and unable to move forward, I have the strength within myself to push myself, to rise above, and to give it all I have.
It’s not about running itself. It’s about what it shows you about yourself. It’s about realizing the overwhelming strength you have.
Don’t run for speed. Don’t run for distance. Set small goals and once you reach them, push for bigger ones. You have to find the reasons that make it meaningful for you. You have to figure out what drives you. If you do that, you’ll find that against all odds, against every moment of self doubt, you will build. You will get better. A mile will build to two, then to three. You will get faster. You will improve. You will realize your strength, and then get even stronger.
The thing about running is, no matter how slow you’re going, you’re always moving forward towards your goals. If you appreciate that, then everything else will fall into place. I promise.
I will be posting my must have running apps, playlists, and my best running tips soon!