An Athlete in Action

Before I started running, I would question the sanity of those runners I would see as I drove past them. Seldom would I see a runner who looked as if the run was an enjoyable experience. Instead, I would see grimaces of pain and discomfort. I couldn’t understand why someone would do something that seemed to be so onerous.

Once I started running, I no longer mocked those pain-stricken runners. A part of me understood, but I still didn’t quite grasp the concept. I ran, often with an uncomfortable, pained look on my own face, yet there was joy in the effort. The pain seemed worth the effort.

But I had a new revelation while on my run tonight.

You see, today is Saturday, and I almost never run on Saturdays anymore. For a long time now, Saturdays have been my long and crazy work days. I wake up at 4:45 in the morning and often get run off my feet at work until 2:00 in the afternoon. By the time I am done work, I am exhausted mentally and physically and my feet are usually killing me. The last thing I want to do is go for a run.

Today was just like any other Saturday. Well, there is also a bit of vertigo going on in my head. It isn’t too bad, but the room, the world spins just a little whenever I move my head too quickly. My legs have been threatening to go into full-blown shin splint mode, and I feel permanently fatigued from numerous early mornings. I had every reason NOT to go for a run tonight, but I desperately needed to get out for a run and the thought of sacrificing even an hour of sleep-in time tomorrow was just not palatable. So, I ran tonight.

My fitness levels are not where they were a year ago. It has been a struggle to find the motivation to recoup what has been lost, so my sporadic runs are sharp reminders of how far I have to go just to get back to where I once was. It isn’t easy, and running at the end of a Saturday is probably a bad idea.

I set out thinking I might run 3 kilometres, but I only wound up doing 2 kilometres. This year, even a short run like that would require several short walk breaks, so I didn’t set out to run like a superhero. It wasn’t easy. My lungs burned, but I plodded along and pushed just a little bit harder. When I told myself that I would take a walk break at the next hydrant, I’d press on past it. I am sure that pain and discomfort was evident on my face. My shins were fine, but my lungs and muscles hurt. It was not a comfortable, happy feeling!

And this was when I had my revelation. How many athletes look all happy and carefree in the heat of the battle? Athletes run, play and perform with determination and through physical discomfort and pain. It takes effort to train your body. Effort isn’t easy. We don’t mock other athletes for their lack of a permanent smile as they grind through a tough training workout, match or game. So, why do we look at those runners differently? Maybe you don’t do that, but I do…even though I am a runner myself.

There isn’t always pain and discomfort in the running though. Sometimes there is exuberance, pride and joy. As much as tonight’s run was a struggle, I was proud of my determination to push past my excuses. The end result was the fastest 2K I have run in at least 10 months, and I am pretty pumped about that!

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