I took a chance six years ago the day I walked into the gym to meet my coach for the first time. I've written about it so much--a story that others may tire of but it is endlessly surprising to me that it happened at all. And each time I think of it and how everything had to come together and cross paths in just the right way for this to happen, I'm just so frickin thankful.
My coach is the one who reintroduced me to running, which I've also written about. I didn't think that running was possible for me--it wasn't even on my radar that I would ever run again. I had a back injury a few years before and I assumed that closed the door to running forever. I have no idea what I thought would happen in that gym or in my time outside the gym to restart my fitness, I'm just glad I went in so overwhelmed and ignorant that I didn't have the capacity for imagination or I may not have gone in at all. Thank god I took a chance.
Running proposed to me pretty early on in our relationship thirty two years earlier. Running was always game for a date, and so was I for the first ten years. Then I just walked away. I'm grateful that running is bigger than me, and doesn't hold a grudge. It only took a few weeks after our long hiatus before the fire was blazing again. Our relationship is kind of rocky, but sooo dynamic. And underneath the whole thing is love and gratitude, and I believe we can run on like that for the rest of my life. I hope so, anyway. But we are about to have another little break.
At the end of October I'll be having knee surgery and I'll be off that leg for six weeks, and separated from running for six months. This time running won't go far, though, and I'm prepared to keep my shoes lined up where I can see them and to learn about my pal in the endless books I have about running. I'll rehab and get myself good and strong and ready to meet up again, although I'm sure this time away will play a little on my insecurity that running likes other people better than me. But I know intellectually it's not true, even if my heart is not always privy to the same information.
I had someone tell me that this is what running will do to you, in reference to my knee--which, first of all, isn't what the research shows. The research shows that running is good for our knees, actually. But I'm not interested in trying to convince anyone of this. Did running contribute to my knee issue? Maybe. But there are, without a doubt, a number of things running has done to me, things I can squarely lay at running's doorstep and that don't seem to be reversible--things I just have to live with, like:
CONFIDENCE. Yeah, I have that now. No, I really didn't before. Not like this, anyway. Maybe years ago I had the beginnings of confidence, but if so it was fragile. But not now--now it's healthy and stable.
STRENGTH. I am strong. Physically, mentally and spiritually.
MENTAL FITNESS. Running blew the door wide open on this one. There are no limits in this realm, and running and I will be in the classroom pursuing this subject for the rest of my life. And that's fine by me.
GRATITUDE. I should have led with this one. Or I should maybe erase everything else so that this stands out on a hill of it's own. This, right here, is the biggest thing running has done for me--it's filled me with gratitude. It's my favorite gift. It's a ridiculously generous byproduct from a relatively small daily investment on my part. It's like I go run every day and then I get $10,000. Every day. I shouldn't even diminish it by putting a number on it, but I want to make a point: It's wealth. I'm wealthy.
SELF REFLECTION ON STEROIDS. I have always done the self reflection thing, but I had become so weary, and a little shut down. Then along comes running. There ain't nowhere to hide from yourself when you run.
A REALITY LENS. An uber reality lens. This goes hand in hand with the self reflection piece. You can't hide from yourself and it's hard to hide from the truth. Running is just pretty straight forward about life.
PERSPECTIVE. This is why I need to run first thing in the morning. When I run things go to neutral. If there is chaos in my head it's put in order. I know where to start and I believe I can do it. It's my biggest challenge to run first thing, but when I do I can watch the trajectory of my week change for the better--it sets a tone. And bonus: running will give me perspective any time of the day: feeling blue, feeling overwhelmed, looking for answers? 1 mile. 10 minutes. World order.
WRITING. Oh man, writing...One day I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door and running was there. "Here," running said, "I think you forgot this." And it handed my writing back to me.
OPPORTUNITY. The opportunities with running are absolutely endless and my world was blown wide open. The learning is endless. The trails are endless. The race opportunities are endless. The opportunity to find community is endless. The books, the podcasts, the ideas are endless. The running videos on YouTube are endless : ) The number of wonderful, cool runners to meet is endless. The opportunity to know and understand myself is endless. And I'm pretty sure there is an opportunity waiting for me in this separation from running that will expand my running and take it deeper, but more importantly will likely expand my life as a whole.
And it's all because I walked through the door of that gym six years ago. It's all because I TOOK A CHANCE.