To run better, you must run, consistently over time. Sounds straightforward. It’s not. I started running in 2007…I stopped running in 2016…I started running again in 2017. The effect of that long break: Starting over, from the bloody beginning. My first run last year was as hard as my first run eleven years ago. Actually, worse. At least in 2007, I waited until I’d developed some fitness before joining a group run. This time, eager to be running with others again, I became very comfortable with hanging out way at the back of the pack. Dead last. Losing sight of everyone ahead of me and spending most of the run huffing and puffing beside my equally wheezing dog.
I struggled on the trails. It was hard, every, time. My lungs were out of shape. My joints were out of shape. My muscles were out of shape. Every part of me strained on every run. Still, I loved being in the trails again and I loved the camaraderie of the other runners that I’d see at the beginning and end of each run. I also believed one thing: Consistency over time. If I just keep showing up, it will eventually get easier.
It didn’t get easier for six months. Month Seven, it got easier. Not slowly, not quietly. Just…boom. My pace was quicker, my tendons stronger, my kick higher. I don’t know why, what happened. I just know that I could breathe and move and mostly keep up. Today, I spent two hours running with the group, not behind them, not gasping, not wheezing…just easy running. I was part of the conversation. I have not experienced that for eighteen months. It was cathartic.
So, who cares? Really, I’m the only one who has experienced the benefits and pride and excitement of my hard work. Isn’t that always the way? That should always be the way. We should impress ourselves more than we are impressed by anyone else. There is no joy in dwelling on what was or wishing for what may be. The journey is the thing. Good company along the way, all the better.
Wherever you are, be all there.