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Running Relationship Status : It's Complicated

My relationship status with running: Its Complicated.

Running and I have always had a complicated relationship. It has definitely waivered from hate, to almost love, to despise, to muddle through it, to hate again, and then slowly around appreciation and a rare form of what might almost maybe be construed as love.

I always wanted to love running. It's the most simple, no-nonsense form of exercise you could possibly do. You literally need no equipment. Even shoes are optional depending on where you're going. It features the human body at its most natural, its most elemental, and at its most potential.

And yet... Once I got into High School, engaged in other sports and athletics, I formed some kind of my identity that I "wasn't a runner."

I thought I was slow. Running didn't make me feel powerful. It was something I HAD to do for conditioning for sports (which maybe brought about some of that negative connotation.) I wasn't the fastest in the bunch. I couldn't go the longest. Running did not increase my sense of pride. I’m built naturally for short bursts of speed, strength and power, not endurance.

So over two decades I've had phases where I tried to run on a regular basis, and then I've had years where I haven't laced up my running shoes once. Running has come and gone, given me highs and lows, ups and downs, and an ebb and flow of love and hate but I keep coming back to it.

I’m working on evolving my philosophy on running, but I need to start by confronting what I have hated about it over the years.

I hate how heavy my legs feel.
I hate when I get shin splints and injuries because I'm not conditioned for it.
I hate how red in the face I get.
I hate the feeling of my thighs rubbing together, especially in the summer time.
I hate that I sound like a plod horse, my feet fall heavily.
I hate the thought that people can see all of my excess fat bouncing up and down and jiggling.
I hate the feel of my stomach bouncing every single step.
Sometimes I hate the heaviness of my breasts when a sports bra is not doing its job.
I hate when I catch an awkward shadow that does not look like an athlete.
I hate the feeling eyes on me when I'm running in public.
These are all things that I typically tend to hate when I'm first getting started. I hate that I can't go as far, or as fast, or that I don't feel athletic, that I'm not able to do the things that I want to be able to do and do them well.

And yet I keep coming back. Because they're things to love about running.

This morning I just went for a jog. Okay we'll call it a run. It was still slow by most standards. (At least by my standards.)

And yet, this morning I wasn't thinking about my thighs rubbing together. This morning my stomach wasn't bouncing up and down over the top of my waistband. This morning my sports bra was doing its due diligence so I didn't notice a thing. This morning was a brisk 50-some degrees, so this run could be described as invigorating.

Supporting my run was an exploration of my childhood neighborhood. It was a reminder of all the runs I went on over the years. It was a time to think and reflect. It was also 22nd or 23rd consecutive workout this month. (a positive streak I've been working on!)

This morning my run was a moment of pride because even on vacation at home, when I'm tired and it's cold and I didn't pack appropriate clothing, I kept my commitment to myself and got up and got my workout in, because I didn’t need anything else to go run- I got above my excuses and resistance.

This morning I love that my legs feel strong even though I'm not feeling fast yet.
I love that I didn't need to get a gym pass when I'm traveling, or carry some exercise equipment with me, just shoes.
I love that my Fitbit heart rate tracker tells me I'm improving my cardio Health.
I love that is a time just spent with myself, a form of active meditation. Running gives me space and time to unplug. I get to think, I get to plan, I get to problem-solve, I get to sort things out and see things in a new light.
I love that I was surrounded by birdsong this morning.
I love it the air was crisp and fresh.
I love at these quiet old streets were empty and I had the space to myself.

I'm not training for a race. I have no ambitions to get back on the half marathon train, or compete as a runner. And yet I'm working to find space to love running on an ongoing basis. I'm working to consistently see the positive and not the negative. And the funny thing is the more I do the easier it is to be positive.

Cheers to anyone else who has had a love-hate (or just hate) relationship with running- I wanted to encourage you that there is an upside if you change your mindset and consistently work on it!


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