It's amazing to me how long it's taken to settle into my own identity as a runner.
Since day one I've heard people say a variety of positive statements about running, all indicating that one of these variations is the right way to feel. Lacking confidence, I assumed I was doing something wrong. I could not identify as a runner because, well, I hated it. Only after a run did I experience a few moments of grace, but getting out the door was an epic battle every time, and it was not a battle I always won. Grind was the appropriate adjective for each and every run no matter the terrain or duration, or the weather or if I had gotten new shoes...it didn't seem to matter. People would say that running was a joy, a release, a time to clear their head. They would talk about the satisfaction of running with friends and how running improved their mood. But what I would get most hung up on was this: Running. Is. Fun! And if you aren't having fun, then why would you keep doing it?
Well, I kept doing it because I felt called to, if that's not too woo woo. Something clicked, and I kept at it. It gave me structure. It gave me a deeper understanding of myself. It revealed truths. And I started writing again. Now I'm wrapping up my sixth year of running and heading into my seventh and I can say that I have had some fun running. I've done three ultras and I had fun--type 2 fun, but I loved the experiences for sure. I was in my zone. I ran a 4th of July race with a friend a few years ago and that was fun, we ran really well together and I remember feeling strong and confident. And my best friend from childhood starting running and we ran a 5K, her first race, last September. From the time we picked her up for the race all the way through the finish line and the post race bagels--that was fun! But she's fun. The experience was fun. But was running fun? I just still don't know about that.
I can say that I don't hate running anymore. I dread some workouts and I ebb and flow, and my coach assures me this is normal. I wouldn't say that I necessarily look forward to running, but I can say that I'm hungry to get out there. And I have bouts in every run now where I kind of feel like a super hero for doing it. And the thought of not being able to run bums me out--I'm really grateful for it.
Part of settling into my identity as a runner is having confidence in why I do it. I can imagine if you have some genetic predisposition to running it might be a little more fun. I can imagine if you have a genetic predisposition to a lower competitive nature it might be a little more fun. I have neither. But I do have six years of dedicated training under my belt and I know myself better now as a runner and as a person. And what I know is that I will have moments of fun and those times are welcomed byproducts of running. But mostly, for me, running is a necessary discipline. I learn through my body--it's how I can access how I'm feeling and how I know who I am. And running shows me what is possible. I've done more outlandish challenges than I ever would have imagined doing because I started running and training. I chase the running life because it is always showing me the potential for all of life. More and more life. That seems like a great reason to run to me. At any rate it's my reason, and I'll take it.