Parts Excerpted from Women’s Running Article
Yesterday I ran at Anytime Fitness–a 24-hour gym in Overland Park, Kansas.
I realized that I had come full-circle.
I did my first real run as an adult at the same gym–only in Lawrenceville, Georgia almost 10 years ago–to the day.
The two runs were very different.
Yesterday, I ran after a killer leg workout consisting of powerful jumping, then squatting with heavy weights and more. Only after an hour of destroying my legs did I then get on the treadmill and handled sprint intervals for 20 minutes like a boss.
It was one of those great workouts. Where I wanted more when I was done. I felt fit, bouncy, light and fast. (Questionable in objective status; this is a subjective test, people.)
As I was running, I remembered that first run.
Where I was, who I was–then.
When Stella, our second child, was about 12 weeks old, I decided that I needed to do something (anything) to get off the couch and out of the cheese dip and chips. The kids were 14 months apart and I had no idea what had happened to my thigh gap—just kidding, I never had a thigh gap—but I knew that I had extra everything at that point, thighs included, on my 250-pound frame. I’d had enough, and I wanted to run.
Now, let’s be clear what “I wanted to run” meant.
I wanted to run away from life, from my job. To run from my body—which was a strange vessel that I no longer recognized. I didn’t know that motherhood would be such a blessing and such a terrible thing and wonderful thing and hard thing. Really, motherhood was a roller-coaster of emotions that I could not comprehend. Being a working mother was even crazier—how was I to actually mother these kids and do my job and figure out a way to be sane? The questions were fast and furious with no answers in sight.
As I looked down the road at my life, I had no idea how I would keep it together.
So I wanted to run physically, yes. But I also needed to run in so many other ways.
On my way to work one day, I passed one of those 24-hour gyms—the small, strip mall ones that promised anytime access to a full gym—complete with shower and locker. Anytime? I could run at…well, anytime? This is something. I was on to something, I thought in my sleep-deprived mind.
I joined on the spot and could barely contain my excitement of being able to work out anytime. I spent several days without working out any of the time, but one evening I decided to change that. The day had been especially hard. The kids were cranky, my husband was cranky and I was cranky.
I declared, “I am going to the gym.”
My husband looked at me like I had three heads (“What gym?”), and I didn’t care. I needed to run. I was going to run! How exciting this is!
I found some old tennis shoes. I stuffed my body into some leggings and an old tee, and off I went. I had my iPod ready, and I put on some motivation beats and prepared for the amazing run that was inevitable.
As I walked up to the treadmill, I looked around. The gym was completely empty. I liked that. I didn’t want anyone to see me running. I felt a sense of peace about the whole situation. I was going to run.
I pressed GO, and I started to walk and then jog. I increased the pace to 4.0 and I started to run. Immediately I knew I had made an error of epic proportions. I was not a runner, and this was not running. This was an elephant stomping on a belt. This was a nightmare. This was so much fat and boobs flying around. Why were my boobs hurting? Did I just drool out of my mouth?
I kept going.
Two minutes. Three minutes. I was sweating and heaving and huffing. How did this happen? What has happened to me? Why can’t I run? I need to run!
Five minutes. Is this a cardiac event? I am not going to make it.
I continued until I truly could go no further. After eight minutes, I stopped the belt. I pulled off my headphones and threw them on the floor. I looked in the mirror, and I couldn’t believe how much I hurt. I hurt on the outside, but even more, I ached with a pain and sadness inside that I could not explain.
Everything hurt. My eyes filled with tears, but I refused to let them fall. This was my fault. I had to fix whatever this was.
The next day, my feet hurt. I looked at the bottoms and had visible bruises on the balls of my feet.
I didn’t know what was happening. I knew bruises weren’t good. I knew I was not a good runner. I knew that I had no idea what to do.
But I also knew, in that moment, that I was better than that run. I had more inside of me than the bruises on my feet. I knew that I needed to run, even if it was off to a rocky start.
So I decided to keep going. Beyond that run.
I did. I kept going.
And ten years later, things are so different. Just because of that one time. I wanted to give up sometimes. I did give up othertimes, but I wanted to change. I knew I had to change.
This is a reminder to myself–and to you, perhaps–that change can take a helluva long time.
But focusing on what we can do–even when it’s small–matters big time.
Yesterday, I needed that reminder. That great things take time, hard work, hard times, sweat, tears and hustle.
I needed that reminder. Maybe you do, too.