Tuesday, June 23, 2009

For the Long Haul

For a long time, I thought that running was all about changing my body, or rather getting rid of most of it.
But now, after years of yoyo-ing between exercise and well, NOT exercising, I've finally realized that it involves more than taming a wobbly rear end. That's why I'm a runner. Even though I didn't start out as one. I began exercising when I was a teenager. I joined a small aerobics club, but I never had any noble intentions. I just wanted to wear a size 5. So I threw on an old T-shirt and some cut-off sweats, swept my hair up into a ponytail, and started working out.
Every day in class, my arms & legs shook, while the skinny girls bounced around like cheerleaders in perfect unison. The music blasted so loudly off the mirrored walls that I couldn't hear myself think. Nor did I want to. I just wanted to fit into my jeans.
A year later, I was thinner and more muscular. I had reached my goal. But I felt that something was missing. While my body was in better shape, my mind wasn't. Had I become so shallow that I was only concerned with my figure?
I tried running for the first time while in high school. It has been perfect. It gave me the aerobic workout I needed, plus something equally as important: time alone. Life is hectic. Running gives me a brief but blessed escape. I finish each workout calmer and happier.
Part of Trudy, deep down inside whispers "You're crazy," each time I lace up my running shoes. Of course, I don't listen to her. I've gained so much more by listening to my true self, and learning to relish the many delights of a run.
I've noticed how my body slowly warms in the cool air, starting with my toes and ending at my fingertips. I'm beginning to enjoy the drizzly days when my feet pound the wet pavement in rhythmic taps, and the mist wets my hair. I see the world around you in a whole new way.
Running has showed me how to take my time, and feel the world. There have been times, even recently, when I've hit a lull and lost the motivation/drive to run. But it didn't take long for the frustrations to mount. I need the escape, so once again I turn to running.
This time I'm determined to soothe my spirit and toughen up sagging leg muscles. Today, I run on a treadmill in the hustle of a gym, although I'm calmed by my music on my iPod, and I often turn reflective again, just as I did in my earlier years of running. During workouts, I savor the small pleasures of life. As my feet slap against the treadmill's rubber belt, I sometimes think about the high school girl I was, and the woman I am becoming. And I realize my destination doesn't really matter at all.
Each run is its own reward. I've become a runner again, steadfast and serene.

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