“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great!”
-Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own
Truer words were never spoken.
In the almost month since my return to running, I have had to put my ego aside, swallow my pride, and remember: I’m starting over.
I have been away from the very activity that brought me such joy for so long now, that it became time to finally admit that I can’t just pick up where I left off a few years back. I’m starting from ground zero, square one, back at the beginning.
The body isn’t where it used to be, physically or mentally. At times, it’s a slow and arduous task. Other times, I savor the endorphins that wash over me with each and every smooth step. Yet I only have to look down to remind myself how far removed I am from that last marathon or that last training run. The mind desperately craves what the body simply cannot provide right now. The mind wants to keep running, but the hamstrings and quads protest loudly. The art is finding that place where the two can coexist peacefully.
Yesterday that place was 5 miles on the treadmill.
In an effort to appease both the mind and the body, I’ve decided to focus on consistency and lower mileage in these beginning days. As much as I long for those long runs out-of-doors, honestly, this body simply isn’t ready for that. I think it’s safer and smarter to focus on building that base that I lack. I know what I need to do. It’s just a matter of telling myself that there’s a bigger picture here.
The bigger picture is a healthier, albeit older runner. A runner who simply cannot beat herself up over the amount of time that has passed since consistent running held an important place in her life. A runner who realizes that the body she peers down at today won’t be the same body that carries her across the finish line of the next race, the next marathon.
Until then, I keep running.
And pass me another slice of that humble pie.