It’s National Running Day.
Not like I need any particular incentive to celebrate, but there is something exciting about knowing I am part of a community of people pounding the pavement.
I haven’t always felt this way. There was a time when running and I had a love-hate relationship, emphasis on the hate.
In high school, my life revolved around either training or competing.
I judged my seasons not on the weather, but on the stage of my competition training. Fall was not fall, but cross-country season. Winter was conditioning season. Spring was track season. Summer was morning-running season.
Running wasn’t about the satisfaction of personal achievement. Rather, it was a constant stressor, with which I judged my success only against the success of others.
Even if I scraped seconds off my personal records, it was never quite good enough unless I had a medal hanging around my neck.
Competition wore-down my soles and my soul.
When college began, I hid my shoes in the back of my closet and rebelled against exercise. I believed I had lost my love for running.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that there was a direct connection between my exercise regiment and my happiness. Without working up an occasional sweat, I just wasn’t myself—there was no denying it.
Still, I was hesitant to lace my shoes up again.
One day, all the elliptical machines at the campus recreation center were occupied.
“Oh, great,” I thought. “What am I supposed to do now?”
I had already made my way across campus and I was determined to work out.
Then I noticed some kids running around the indoor track. Compulsively and without taking a moment to talk myself out of it, I jumped on the track and set off.
At first, my trot was a little uncomfortable. But, there was still something soothing and familiar about the steady pounding of my feet on the track.
It only took a few laps for me to realize that my frustrations with working out were misguided. I didn’t dislike running. I simply disliked the pressure of competition.
I am happy to say that running and I are now in as happy of a union than ever.
I run when I want. I walk when I want. I even enjoy setting off in the occasional sprint, just for nostalgia sake.
I still love road races and the thrill of pushing my limits. I just don’t evaluate my success against that of others.
Today, I’m initiating a challenge: Run.
It doesn’t matter whether you already hit the road every day. It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember the last time you jogged around the block. It doesn’t matter if you go fast or if you go far…
What matters is just doing it.
I’m happy to join you on the road.
Question: Do you consider yourself a runner?