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“Why do I do this to myself?”
I ask this question at 7.32am on a Sunday morning as I stand on my front doorstep staring at the rain. The marathon is 8 weeks away and the training schedule suggests that I run 18 miles today.
I nearly turn tail and head back inside to the warmth and comfort of bed, yet something makes me take the first step into the rain. Three hours later I return, soaking, calves aching, hands stained black from the old gloves I’m wearing and starving. But happy.
I’ve been a runner for 10 years now. Before I got hooked, I didn’t really have a hobby or pastime. Now I can’t imagine my life without running.
It is my passion, my outlet, a way to work out my body and stay healthy, a place to think, a ritual, a sanctuary, a whole new way of thinking, a challenge to my relationship with time, a way to learn about being with myself, an obsession, part of my identity.
For me, this passion is like a reliable friend – it is always there for me rain or shine, on good days and bad. Running never judges me, never gives me a hard time, never let’s me down. Running is there to listen to what is going on in my head, and to give me time to reflect on it. It’s a sanctuary from the storm and a place to celebrate success. Running challenges me to be better, yet on my terms.
Running has taught me a lot about myself. I’ve found a new comfort with myself through spending time alone. I used to struggle to spend 30 minutes alone, now I enjoy my own company. I’ve found that time seems to melt when I’m out pounding the streets. Hours fly by with barely a thought in my mind. I sometimes enter a zone where time seems to lose any meaning and I feel a sense of genuine bliss. I also find that my unconscious mind solves many of my toughest challenges on runs, and delivers the results later.
Most of all, I am a runner now. It is part of my identity. Hell, I have 5 years of spreadsheets detailing every run I’ve done. Running is not an option, it is an essential in my week. I don’t run to impress or please anyone else, it is purely for my own enjoyment. I couldn’t imagine being without my smelly old running shoes, the Goretex jacket and those ever so lovely Lycra tights. Phil is a runner.
Reading this, I wonder if I’ve become dependent on running. Tracy Todd, an amazing blogger who had a car accident and is now quadriplegic wrote these powerful words:
“There was a time in my life when I was living my dream. Everything changed the instant I broke my neck in a car accident and was paralyzed from the neck down. I was forced to change my dreams but I learned that is okay as long as one has dreams and hope. I learned from personal experience that disappointment can be absolutely shattering if life happens to throw one a curveball. It is important to have the ability to change one’s focus when necessary but even more critical is to have the emotional intelligence to make peace with it.”
How would I cope if my passion, my friend, my teacher, part of my identity was taken away from me one day? How would I learn to let go? How would I change as a person?
First, thinking about this helps me to appreciate what I have even more and to make the most of every run. When I’m flagging and tempted to give up, it does sometimes cross my mind that “this could be my last ever run”. That thought was a strong factor in me finishing 18 miles on Sunday.
Second, It makes me think about how flexible we need to be as humans living in an ever changing world. Our certainties in life can disappear in an instant. What we take for granted is fleeting and fragile. Learning to change, adapt and continue making the most of life is a powerful ability. However important my passion for running may be, it can never define me.
I’ve gained a new perspective on life through the appreciation and contemplation of running. My personal gratitude has grown through the gifts I have received. If I ever reach the end of the line, there are no regrets, only happy memories. And every time I lace up and head out into the rain, I do so with a smile on my face and thanks in my heart.
What things in your life that take you to another place, that bring you peace, fascination, release, happiness? What do you talk about when you talk about your passions? How do they enhance your life? And what would you do without them? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the LOL community.
Others great blogs on passion: