Until about two years ago, I couldn’t run half a mile without my body telling me to abandon whatever I was trying to achieve. I wanted to run but the desire was not enough. I concluded that I was simply not built for it. But with a little persistence and lots of patience, I was able to achieve small distances without feeling like my lungs were going to collapse – the absurd number of cigarettes I used to smoke might’ve had an impact, who knows.
As I started progressing, I felt the benefits, but it was all a tease. The frustration of not being able to run as much as I wanted was immense. I lost trust in my body and was convinced that I didn’t have the ability to run.
On Friday May 10th of 2019, I got a text from Tim, a friend who was training for the 2019 Zurich Ironman. He told me to join him upstate the following day for the Rhinebeck Marathon. My initial thought was that he wanted me to be his cheerleader, but Tim had other plans in mind. “Sign up for the half,” he said. I had no confidence that I could achieve anything close to it but Tim, who doesn’t lack motivation, told me it’s all in my head, and to finish the run no matter how long it took me. I woke up upstate and followed the weird breakfast routine he had concocted. I then ran a half marathon without any major interruptions. It was more than any distance I’d ever run before. I could now trust my mind to trust my body. It was a pivotal moment in my running career.
Fast forward to today, I run twice a week and couldn’t live without it. When I run, I feel an immense sense of gratitude, gratitude for being healthy, gratitude for just being. When I run, I am reminded that I am ready and capable of facing all challenges that life throws at me – it doesn’t mean I succeed every time, but I give it my all. After a run, I feel a sense of calm and empowerment, the same state of calmness I experience after a guided meditation or a great conversation with a loved one. I feel warmth and comfort.
One big lesson I take from running is to be patient. I’ve always wanted positive outcomes immediately without necessarily putting in the hard work. Although I run much more than I used to, I’m still struggling to increase my pace and distance. Sometimes, I feel stuck and get frustrated about not achieving a faster pace, but I remember to cherish my body and give it time to improve and perform. The process is sometimes slow but it’s progress, nonetheless.
This same concept is then translated in other aspects of my life, whether it be my career or my relationships. This is especially true when it comes to my recovery. I cherish my recovery the same way I cherish my body to run better. When I sit in a 12 Step meeting, I practice patience, compassion, and acceptance. The rooms are my sobriety’s training ground so that I can then apply those learned values to my everyday life. Sobriety provides me with peace of mind and running is my grounding force. The two tied together give me a sense of fulfillment and total acceptance.
Positive outcomes have come and more will keep coming. One run at a time.
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