Saturday, August 14, 2010

Running. It's Cheaper Than Therapy.

Today I've decided to go a bit off the beaten path of our usual posts and write to you all about my love affair with running, and how it came to be. Maybe it's the cram reading sessions of Eat, Pray, Love that I have been doing (in prep for a movie night with my momma) that are causing this emotional purge. Bear with me today, because I've got a lot to say!

So often people tell me I'm crazy for running so much, and wonder how I could seriously love it. But let me tell you, I'd be a lot crazier if I didn't run. The best bumper sticker I ever did see simply said: "Running. It's cheaper than therapy."

And it's true! I feel I am at my truest self when I've been consistently running 25-30 mile weeks. For me, running and yoga are my time. They are opportunities to be relieved of stress. But they do so in very different ways.

Yoga allows me to put all my thoughts and worries into a little pocket within my brain, and focus solely on the poses. These poses require me to connect the mind and body, forming a meditative state that allows me to just be. I can't wait for the day that I'll be able to practice regularly again.

Running is different. Running is a chance to face head on whatever may be bothering me on any given day. I'm only responsible for putting one foot in front of the other, leaving my mind free to think. This is why I say I am most in tune to myself when I have been running regularly. It is my time to form opinions, to reason and to (however corny it may sound), figure myself out.

During my travels to South Africa and Peru particularly, my runs were my time to analyze the many things I had seen and learned. I would compare and contrast the many intricacies of a new people and new cultures and I always seemed to come to the conclusion that however different we may seem we really aren't that different at all.

My first six mile run occurred during the month of April during my senior of high school. I'd been accepted to my two top choices for college and no amount of debate with my family and friends would spark a decision as to which track to take. I was doing my usual three mile loop after a long discussion about majors, programs, dorms, food, etc. A ways into the run I realized that I was on to something. My body and my mind weren't ready to stop running until I had fully reasoned this decision. Running that extra three miles at the time was a risk for me, but I knew I was strong enough mentally to counteract the physical lacking. If I could take this risk, then I could take the risk of moving 3,000 miles away. The University of Virginia was the perfect place for me. The principal slogan of any economics class, the greater the risk the greater the reward, held true in this case. And it holds true in running as well. The bigger my goals, the happier I am after accomplishing them.

Running is a means to deal with heartbreak and sorrow. After Yeardley Love died last year, I found myself running an hour or so a day. I ran immediately after vigil, putting my sadness into an energy that allowed me to cope with that tragedy.

It has been during runs that I have decided to pursue a boy, start a relationship, and eventually end that same relationship. And it was running that helped me to get over him. It has been while running that I made the decision to travel to South America. I know what I want and I go for it, and I know this aspect of my personality has become stronger because I am a runner. I have made specific life goals for myself during runs. I have challenged myself to go further not just in terms of mileage, but in terms of my own life. I have been able recently to overcome what seemed to be an insurmountable amount of emotional stress during my many runs, in turn making me realize my true priorities.

I must honestly tell you though that sometimes I'm not ready to face my own self. It's these times you'll find me in the gym or at yoga. This is when I crave the endorphins but am not prepared to face the root of the problem. I think that's why I create so many goals in regards to running, and register for so many races. I know this year is going to be stressful, so by making time to run with the pressure of at least four major races in the next three months, I'll be able run through the stress.

The word hobby doesn't do this favorite activity of mine justice, but in any case I'll use it. It is this hobby that has created some awesome friendships (ahemmm Mary and Dettke). It's taken me to some awesome places and allowed me to push myself beyond my mental limits. The marathon was quite a fete for me, but I am not proud for my physical self because that alone did not take me to the finish line. It was my mind that pushed me to a new limit and in a sense carried me to the end.

Now I don't mean to preach to you all that running will change your life. Only you can do that. But it doesn't have to be through running. It can be through hiking, or knitting or photography or anything! Just something that allows you to really think.

Well clearly I belong in some temple, praying to the gods of running. So I'm gonna go eat a gluten-free cookie. I hope yall were able to bear all this mooshy running talk, but when you're in love you just gotta shout it from the rooftops!



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