The summer after my freshman year of high school, I started running. Like all 14-year-old girls, I wanted to be skinny. But I was equally, if not more, motivated by the desire to be prepared. You see, I hated running, but I also was starting to hate my life, and in my mind, if I could learn to tolerate one unpleasant thing, I could learn to tolerate them all.
I don’t think I was actually quite that self-aware at the time. I do remember thinking about challenges. My best friend refused to come running with me, and I remember insisting to her, with some combination of irritation and panic, “what if some day you get stuck somewhere and have to climb a mountain?! You need to be physically prepared.”
She wasn’t convinced, but I ran every day on those flat, bayside Massachusetts roads, preparing myself for things to get worse. Preparing for a mountain. Preparing for the extreme.
It’s been many years since I started running to prove something. I’ve gone faster, then slower. Shorter, then farther, then shorter again. I’ve been injured, stopped caring, stopped running, started back up, then stopped again. I’ve had some ok moments, some brutal moments and a very small amount fun.
It’s been many years since I started running to prove something. I’ve gone faster, then slower. Shorter, then farther, then shorter again. I’ve been injured, stopped caring, stopped running, started back up, then stopped again.
I’ve learned that running doesn’t prepare you for mountains, literal or metaphorical. A hard run is nothing compared to a lost loved one, a broken heart or the bleakness of despair. What’s more, a bad run hurts, too. Like all those other awful things, it’s something you’ll want to forget.
But a mediocre moment in a mediocre run gives you the skills you’ll need to get through the majority of your life.
It prepares you for the grind. The mediocre moments. The things you should do but don’t want to do because they don’t seem fun or convenient. The times when you tell yourself that giving up today is ok even though you know in your heart it isn’t. The moments when you’re wondering if a red eye is a good excuse to bail on a blogging challenge you set for yourself.
The moments when your brain’s exhaustion threatens to overpower your heart’s will.
If only we could get the same benefits from drinking Mai Tais at the beach…