It is necessary to try to surpass one’s self always: this occupation ought to last as long as life.
~ Queen Christina of Sweden
Technically, I am turning 43 today. But here, I am going to celebrate turning One.
One year ago today I laced up my very first pair of running shoes and I committed to a new course. I decided to start running but, more than that, I decided to run for a year.
Here I am. I have arrived.
When I started this journey, a year sounded like infinity and a half a mile in running shoes felt like a marathon. Today, I sit here hoping to recover from a herniated (ok 3) disc in my back and I finding myself wondering if I could manage to train for a half marathon in the fall if all goes well.
In-between, I have put a lot of miles under my feet and I have learned a whole lot about who I am.
Isn’t that funny? When you are a kid, you think of grown ups sort of like fully cooked humans. They are “done” and you are growing. Adults tell you that all the time don’t they? When you are grown up, you’ll see… But the special secret of grownuphood is that – if you pay attention – there is always more growing up to do.
One thing I learn more and more as I keep growing up is that we can be more or less conscious in this process. I am not saying that we can always choose the lessons or the training grounds, but we can choose how actively we participate in the process. On the surface, I chose running because I got to age 42 and realized that I needed to make a hard commitment to taking better care of my body because it was not getting any younger. (You can read about where I started here.) And I could have just left the decision at that. Lots of people make commitments to exercise right? And they quietly stop them 2 weeks or 2 months later and life goes on.
I chose to run for an entire year because I was looking for something more. I also chose to make myself accountable to the world by writing about it here. There is a reason why a lot of people run with dedication, passion, and love. There is a reason that drives them to run more, run farther, get up at 5 am and run in the dark, run when they are tired, broken, and exhausted even. I wanted to tap into that. I wanted to see if not only could I do this activity that was good for my body for a year, but could I find that intangible thing that stirs the souls of runners and keeps them going.
I have learned a lot. To be quite frank, I have learned a lot more about myself than I have about running. If someone asked me anything about running gear or technique or how to train…I would not feel much more comfortable giving that advice today than I did when I started. I am still a running novice.
But I can tell you a lot about what it takes to voluntarily do something, day in and day out for a year of your life, when you don’t like it. And I can tell you the things I have learned about finding limits in my body and in my mind that I did not know were really there all this time – and how I got beyond them.
I can tell you a little bit about what it feels like to move from “this is a thing I don’t like but I am doing it because it is good for me” to “I am doing this and it’s changing who I am and how I relate to myself” to “I am forging new ground and becoming someone better than I was before.”
I am still a running novice, but I have learned a few things.
I could make a simple statement like Running has changed me.
But I think the really true statement is something more like Committing to running for a year and figuring out how to keep that commitment regardless of obstacles (internal, external, real, created, or otherwise) has changed me.
And I am still going. Today begins a new year of opportunity.
Happy Runniversary to Me.
And Happy Friday to all of You!