Today, I am grateful for my achy and tired legs.
Were you physically active and full of energy in your younger years? Do you wonder were all that went? I would do from step aerobics, mountain biking and tennis to running. I had played soccer if not for the fact that this sport was not so common for girls back then, exercise used to be enjoyable for me. As I got older, real life took over and most physically activity took a back seat. Physical activity was not a priority, but in order to loose weight or maintain it, which ever I needed at that time, I needed to ‘exercise’. Running seemed practical and accomodating at that time, so it became my choice of a sport. Wherever I went, whichever place I had to travel for business, no matter the time, I had to go for a run, regardless if I was familiar or not with the foreign cities I visited.
I remember being in business trip in Nuremberg, Germany a few years ago and decided to go to the medieval old city of Nuremberg for a run. I had eaten some delicious, rich and buttery tomato soup made from scratch early that evening and I had to burn it off. The old city was surrounded by a massive wall, the “city walls”, and heavily fortified gates that were used as a medieval weir system. Although the wall was about three miles around, I think I ran triple the mileage trying to find one of the five ‘hidden’ gates to get out of the old town. A couple of hours later and while the hardly visible sun was setting down, I was able to finally get out of this enclosed city though one of the gates. The run back to the hotel was quite an interesting one, you didn’t see too many people around, none for that matter, running in the dark and with drops of heavy rain falling on their heads. I was tired, angry and soaking wet. I think it was obvious I was not from around there, good grief!
I had other experiences similar to this, when running did not bring any pleasure or satisfaction; I believe at that time, that running, was more of an obsession brought up by the little inside voice telling me “Maintain my weight, don’t get fat”, rather than for the enjoyment of running. I was too worry about the calories and fat I was consuming and running was a way to get it off. I found myself dreading my runs. Listening to headphones while I ran made running tolerable even though sometimes they were a distraction when dealing with the volume and keeping them in place.
A few years ago, I read an article about the benefits of running without music. I found the results from the study interesting and decided to try it out for just one reason, the study showed the music messes up your pace when running. I wanted to stay within a desired heart zone and increase my pace. In retrospect, this was the turning point when the love for running was born.
As I started running without any music, I started noticing my breathing, a synchronization between my breathing and footsteps started taking place. I was breathing rhythmically with my footsteps and it felt good. I was going further in distance and with every step, the vibration rippled through the cells of my body. Although I had ran the same paths many times before, everything around me seemed different. I was actually aware of the world that surrounded me, there were creeks and trees that I had not noticed before. I heard nature all around me, a cardinal singing, water running down a stream, the breeze drying off the sweat from my face, even the words of encouragement from other runners that I had not interacted with before. I felt connected, at ease, I had finally experienced what living in the ‘now’ meant, I felt awesome.
Running became a way to acquire a void to clear my mind. It also became a challenge that has taught so many things about myself. Running has given me the opportunity to be even better than I was before. It has taught me to overcome obstacles, to fight thru pain, to quite my mind and its limitations and boundaries. Running has not only shown me pain that I didn’t know existed before, but also the determination and tenacity to keep on going. It has made me take every ounce of strength and passion and turn it into perseverance. The little inside voice that used to tell me to run to maintain weight is now yelling “I can’t, I am tired, my legs can’t go on”, but a new and stronger voice surfaces, shutting it down and says, “I can, stay strong.” Running has taught me to love my body. It has taught me to appreciate every single drop of sweat, every ache and even the chaffing of my inner thighs because it is a reminder that I CAN run.
I might not have long legs, be thin and lean or fast, and I might not have any medals or a trophy to hold on my hands, but I know for sure I am nothing compared to the person I thought I was. The mom that I thought I was not capable of being banishes the moment I start running. With every step my achy feet take and with every breath I look forward to the finish line knowing that nothing else matters, but being the best version of myself. What better legacy can I leave for my children?
As I lay down to rest,
I pray and give thanks
for these achy and tired legs
with a smile as I fade away.