A lot has changed in the past month. I haven’t stepped foot in my office or on a pool deck the past few weeks. And those two things have changed my daily routine quite a bit. I’m grateful that I have a job where I’m able to work from home. And Paul, Orion, and I are spending lots of quality time together.
Paul created a virtual run series that started this past week. The Pursue Your Own Path Virtual Series lasts five weeks, and each week has a theme. He asked me to help him come up with the themes for each week. And the first week was all about purpose.
Throughout this past week, each participant in the series was encouraged to think about and answer the question, “Why do you run?”
It’s something I’ve thought about in the past, and my reasons have changed over the years.
I started running in elementary/middle school. Running was partly dryland training for swimming and partly punishment, really. I ran because I had to. I was told to run. My swim coach told me to. My PE teacher told me to. Running was not a choice. It was a directive.
By college, I realized that running (or working out in any way) was my choice. And it was a strange feeling. I was no longer working out because I was told to. I was working out because I chose to.
Apparently, I needed a break from swimming because I was drawn to running. So for a long time, my purpose for running was because it wasn’t swimming.
At some point, I realized that if I let myself enjoy running that it could actually be fun. But that meant letting go of some expectations for how competitive I could be (or should be), as well as addressing some lingering feelings that running was some form of punishment.
So why do I continue to run?
Without access to a pool, I’ve been running a lot the past few weeks. A lot more. I can tell my fitness is improving, but I still miss the water. So I still run because I can’t swim. But that’s not my only purpose for running.
I ran cross country my senior year of high school, and our team qualified for the state meet. The state championship was held in late fall on a golf course. I remember my high school Calculus teacher, a runner himself but not a coach of the team, drove out to show his support on the course. He was standing at mile 2.5 at the top of a climb. As I climbed to the top of the hill, he yelled, “Let your body do the work. Forget about your mind.”
That moment and his words have stuck with me for over 20 years. And it’s one of the reasons why I run. To remind myself that my mind doesn’t have to do all the work. It can’t.
Running isn’t a consolation. It’s an alternative. And with sunny, warm spring days, it gets me outside of our 600 square foot apartment and gives me a chance to take up some more space.
A lot is going on right now that makes me feel anxious; I have no control over this uncertainty. All I can do is find ways to take the pressure off my mind. And running is one of those outlets. Let your body do the work. Forget about your mind.