The one place where I learn that I can do hard things
This post is dedicated to and written for all of my fantastic “frunners” from my local chapter of Moms Run This Town, a group of women whose dedication, wisdom, and encouragement inspire me every day and and continue to give me even more Reasons to Run.
The more I run, the I better understand myself; the more I run, the more I see my life’s reflection in every step I take. If you have ever gone running with me, you have seen deeper into my heart than you realize.
I have come to realize that the battlefield of my soul follows me around like a shadow attached to my running shoes.
A few months ago, I battled it out with myself on the treadmill.
It got ugly.
It was cold and rainy, and, oddly enough, thundering in mid January; other than skipping my run altogether, the better alternative was to take it indoors. I had a fast and challenging training run to face, but I was in high spirits. I had invited Kenny Loggins, Ricky Martin, Reliant K and Eric Clapton to come along, because on the “dreadmill,” they always make things better.
But the gym was unusually hot that day, and although I thought my attitude was in the right place, I quickly realized that it wasn’t; a cloud swiftly descended on me and convinced me that I wanted to be done. My run became difficult, and I began to hate every step. Time slowed down, and the miles got longer; sweat was burning my eyes. I started to feel smaller and smaller as I looked at the women around me in envy. I wanted to escape. But how does one escape from the one place one goes to escape? I was surprised by the stealthy move of darkness as it descended into the depths of my mind and heart.
Why am I doing this? I hate this! I can’t do this, I just can’t! Why do I have to finish this run anyway? Why do I have to finish any run? So much time invested! So much money! Is this really worth it? Does this really matter? Why does it matter? Because I really, desperately, want to quit!
This is stupid!
But I didn’t.
I think that so many times when these questions and remarks (call them what they are: lies) arise during a run they expose so much more than what appears on the surface. This goes so much deeper than hating the treadmill; it is so much more than heavy legs, pressing lungs, and dry lips.
When we do hard things, we want to quit.
But my heart knows there is something deeper still, and it also knows that not finishing is worse than the agony of going on.
I must know and believe that I can do hard things.
I MUST FINISH.
I keep asking myself, do we take our exhausting lives on our runs, or do we bring our bad runs home with us?
Because, truth is, we struggle with crappy runs in the same way we struggle with difficult issues with friends, family, and coworkers. As we live out our lives, it sometimes gets hot, and days become long; we look around and compare ourselves to others, and we feel so very small.
We feel like we can’t parent our children for another minute. We don’t think we are capable of finishing that project at work or facing another day’s worth of dirty dishes and endless piles of laundry. And how about coping with mean bosses, rebellious teens, sick sons and daughters, aging and dying parents? We say, I can’t, I can’t–I just can’t!
Through it all, we must know and believe that we can do hard things.
But, how do we?
We do what runners do on the road: we keep putting one foot in front of the other, we decide to make it to the next mailbox, we make it through one more song, we go one more mile, then one more after that. We give thanks. We think of those we love. We think of those who really can’t go.
We just keep going.
We remind ourselves that we have already done hard things: just the other day we ran 8 amazing miles, last week we felt like superwoman, and our last race was a personal record. We also remember that we have had other imperfect, or worse yet, horrible runs that we not only survived, but which in the end made us stronger.
We fold one shirt at a time. We serve our bosses. We hug our precious children and think of those who can’t. We remember all the hard things we have conquered before. We give thanks.
We just keep going.
We begin, slowly, to accept that bad runs, bad days, and bad attitudes happen. We begin to believe and embrace the fact that even when not perfect, hard things are worth doing because we are better and stronger from them.
I CAN do hard things.
Sometimes we have easy three milers that usher us into a breezy day; other times our runs are sweaty hill repeats in the heat of summer. But all runs are gifts. Let them remind you of the joy and privilege of running, and let them remind you that life is a gift.
Don’t ever forget. YOU can do hard things.
If you aren’t a runner, I pray that you have a venue in your life where even when it gets tough, you can be reminded that you can do hard things too.