To run, or not to run. Up until this point in my life, that has not been the question. Even during times when I was quite active and frequenting the gym four days a week, I was not a runner. Give me the elliptical machines or an aerobics class, but actually hitting my heels against pavement - never.
Recently I've caught myself watching runners, with their seemingly effortless sprints through the air, with longing. They make it look so uncomplicated, so enjoyable, so freeing. And so, in May I decided it was my turn to join in on the delight that is running and began training to run a 5k.
I started running just once a week. On my day off work, I dropped the boys off at the fitness center daycare and spent the next hour thumping around the track, red-faced, sweaty and heavily-breathing, anxiously gazing at the elliptical machine each time I passed it, wondering why I was putting myself through such torture. Running was not turning out to be as joyful as everyone else made it seem. However, I stuck with it, gradually improving my frequency, pace and stamina. The work has proven slow, very slow. I do not glide in long beautiful strides. Instead, each step is awkward and labored. And I am not fast. In fact, there is a 60 year old man who runs the track every afternoon, who I can not, for the life of me, keep up with. The training has been hard on my body. My legs cramp frequently, and my feet hurt. This evening I'm pretty sure I bruised my heel. (I have heard the impact is much less severe with running shoes; I am hoping to have to funds to purchase a pair soon.) Yet, sometime during the last few months, my obligation to follow through with my goal has turned into desire. I have found that I actually enjoy running! I like taking a break from the stresses of life. I like moving my body and feeling its strength. I feel a compulsion to go for a run whenever the chance presents itself. It seems I have finally experienced what makes those runners I watched look so energized and free - a runner's high.
I still have a ways to go until I am able to reach my goal of running a 5k. I'm not entirely sure when I will get to that point. In the mean time, I plan to enjoy the journey.
So as I pull my hair back into a pony tail, tie up the laces on my shoes and pop in the ear buds of my iPod, the question comes rushing back to me. To run, or not to run? I resoundly answer, to run!