On Running

I think it was my sophomore year of high school when I met Wayne in typing class. He was an atheist and a little goth and an enigma to my little Christian, conventional 15 years, and he was also a runner, tall and angular, with a slim build and powerhouse calves that intrigued me.

“Running is so addicting!” he used to tell me.

Completely unrelated pictures of our weekend trip to the farm

What does that even mean, I wondered, and I’d press him for details.

“I can’t explain it,” he said. “You just have to try it. Once you’ve started running, you’ll understand.”

He’d piqued my curiosity, so I tried it, and that was the beginning of my running “career,” if you can call it that. Mostly, I consider myself a beginner even still; I’m slow and inconsistent and haven’t built up a solid base of miles. But after 25 years of dabbling in this running thing, I’ve finally realized that it’s legitimate to call myself a runner, not just someone who runs. The distinction may seem subtle, but it’s there and it matters to me.

The last decade of my running has presented more challenges than successes or growth. Things like infertility (don’t bang your ovaries so much!) and pregnancy (lack of energy + recurrent miscarriage = less activity) and pretty severe anemia (can’t stay awake, let alone run) don’t lend themselves to a robust running career.

But no matter how arduous it has felt, I always come home to running, like a warm, home-cooked chicken casserole around my mother’s table. It soothes me, it grounds me, and I don’t go into it expecting miracles so I’m rarely disappointed.

Lately I’ve returned to running after having surgery last summer and experiencing a busy fall and winter. This time around, it has equally shocked and delighted me to realize I have a new level of endurance and speed. I’m still not fast, per se, but I’m running as well as I did in my early 20s, in spite of the fact that I am nearly double that age. And although my weight’s not double what it was then, it’s…um…substantially more.

via GIPHY

Perplexed, I started analyzing my current situation, and I’ve narrowed it down to this: I’m no longer anemic. Since my hysterectomy, my anemia results have steadily risen. I’m almost normal now! 😉

via GIPHY

You’d think that being no longer anemic and able to run would mean I left awash in energy and motivation. Yet, that doesn’t seem to be the case. I wake up every day with a fresh burst of hopes and dreams and goals, but by supper I’m paralyzed by exhaustion and just want a quiet space in which to breathe deeply.  Which makes no sense.

Why can I run 8 miles without exhaustion but I can hardly make dinner at the end of the day or have a meaningful evening conversation with my husband or write more than one blog post a month? Running requires far more physically than any of the other things. What gives?

via GIPHY

For years, I’ve been tired, and I thought solving the physical roots of my tiredness would fix my lack of energy. If you could just go to bed earlier or at least take a nap, I told myself, it’d all get better! But I didn’t realize there’s more than one way to be tired. The body, yes. But maybe my soul is tired, too?

I don’t know about you, but every day I feel like I’m hauling around a hundred pieces of luggage–responsibilities, things that need to get done, things on which I’m behind, a zillion different hats, hopes and dreams for the future. I’m sure you have them, too. Some pieces don’t require much of me, but some pieces are difficult to carry, and sometimes I’m just carrying too much at once. There’s never time for the ones that fill me back up again, that nourish or motivate me.

What I’ve come to realize during the start of 2018 is that there never will be room unless I make it. I have to stop trying to do #allthethings–even though I think I should be able to do them. In my head, I should be able to clean the house, cook the meals, do the church things, connect with my friends and family, parent my children, educate them, maintain a thriving marriage, handle the finances, stay healthy, write, read the books, engage in creativity, etc, etc. I look around me and it seems that others juggle these things and more.

But these comparisons aren’t doing me any good. Reality is I can’t. And I don’t want to be living so haphazardly from one thing to the next that I wind up dropping the balls that are most important to me.

A few weeks ago, Tahd and I had a conversation about juggling responsibilities and marriage, and he said something that really stuck with me. He said, “I want us to be important enough to you that you want to put down some of the other bags and responsibilities to invest in our marriage.”

Ouch! I want that, too. And my marriage is top priority to me. But it’s also one that can be easy to set aside “for now” while I work on the rest of the things, only to find that it’s withering and struggling without care.

So…which bags to put down? What am I going to quit? Maybe it’s better to turn that question around–what’s most important to me? I don’t have to think twice to answer that question. Marriage, family, and soul care. Maybe first making space for these most important priorities will let me more effectively juggle my remaining energy and time amongst the tasks I have left.

 

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Comments

  1. Truth so open and transparent!! Always love you, my precious first-born!

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