Over the years I have identified as a runner and despite my foray into other sports, running is where I return for my core exercise. This is not because it is convenient, it is not because it is cheap, it is not because it is comfortable, it is because running is what I love.
A few years ago, I wrote about a 50 mile race that I ran on the PCT. This race was a life changing experience for me as it was the turning point of recognizing that I run because I love it. It was also the race that broke me for almost two years, crippling my identity as a runner as well as crippling my ability to run. That experience, the two years of running doldrums, fighting my body, finding my identity, yearning for the health to get back out on the trails, those were learning years.
I learned that a love of running isn’t something that you just pick up and do. That love has to be nurtured, it has to be cherished, it has to be cultivated, it can never be taken for granted. And in return? I receive all the love that running can give back to me. I can soak in sunrise as I fly down a piece of singletrack. I can revel in the strength and focus it takes to summit a challenging climb. I can gush about the zone I found in the midst of a long run. I can be inspired by the train of thought during a track work-out. I can solve nagging problems as I meander through oak groves. I can celebrate amazing vistas and the awe inspiring playground we call this world. I can feel stress melt away as the miles pass beneath my feet. That is the love that running gives to me. But only if I love running back.
It’s funny, also, how our sports are interesting parallels for our lives. Sometimes shakabuku wakes us up to what is crippling us physically, emotionally, and mentally. Sometimes we realize that to really have love in our lives, we have to work hard for the things we cherish. Sometimes we reap the amazing rewards of completely committing to love. Sometimes that love can completely eclipse and put to shame the love we have for our sports.
And sometimes, just sometimes, you end up with the gold medal.
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