This morning I ran the very first route I ever ran. When I was learning to run long distances, I would go out my driveway, turn left and run uphill to the end of my street. Then I would turn left again and run uphill to the top of the ridge north of my house. At the top of the ridge, I looped around and came back home again. Before phone apps, Garmins and MapMyRun, I drove the route and measured the distance using the odometer on my car – three miles.
I never ran with a watch in those days, but I am sure I did not run very fast. I never raced, never ran with anyone except (occasionally) my oldest son who was required to run for soccer, and took frequent walk breaks, especially early in my running career.
I was in my early thirties, a young mother of three boys, working full time. I was impatient, restless and frequently frazzled. Running was my chance to have 30 glorious minutes to myself. It made me feel accomplished and strong. It helped to burn off my considerable anxiety. Running was something I did just for me. I ran in rain, snow and sub-zero temperatures. Nothing could keep me from going out the door at the scheduled time, even if that time was 5:00 a.m.
When I think back to the young woman who was me, it is sometimes hard to recognize her. The full-time job, the boys and the frayed feelings are gone. But the running remains. Running has helped to transform me into a different person, one whom I like a lot better than the person I was 30 years ago.
We are constantly evolving into ourselves. We cannot go back to be the person we were earlier in life. Like a tree, we add rings as time goes by. Our environment influences those rings. The rings we add are ones that are not visible at a glance. If we are fortunate enough to have beneficial factors shaping us, the rings we add are those of patience, compassion, and integrity. As we get older, we accumulate authenticity, empathy, and gratitude. We develop the courage to be ourselves.
Like a tree sheds its leaves in autumn, we discard the parts of ourselves we no longer have the energy to maintain such as resentments, judgementalism, and defensiveness. I have found any resentment I feel hurts me far more than the person it is directed toward. Condemning another person does not lift me. Defensiveness is a waste of time. No one believes excuses anyway, and rationalizations encourage dishonesty towards others and ourselves. We eventually realize that putting up walls is no way to solve problems or encourage communication.
Long after those tortuous three mile runs up to the top of the ridge and back, I did start racing and running with other people, especially my hubby. That made a good thing even better. I got faster, stronger and more savvy, and I was able to share my passion with others who felt the same way I did. Running friends are wonderful friends. Running gives them confidence, which engenders generosity and acceptance.
30 years ago, that three-mile run was my maximum distance. I was deliciously spent and clean at the end of each trip to the top of the ridge and back. Now a three-mile run is the shortest training run I do. I am training for a marathon, so I did it this morning at marathon pace (or maybe, more accurately, what I hope is marathon pace). I did the same route, but everything else has changed. Physically, my running is different, better, even though I am older. Emotionally, I have added some rings that I appreciate and dropped some leaves that no longer serve me.
My technology has changed too. I no longer measure the distance of my runs with my car odometer. You know what? When I got back from my run, I found out that my three-mile run isn’t a three mile run at all. It’s actually 2.99 miles. Whaaaat??? Now I will somehow have to figure out how to add .01 miles to the route. Even when I first started running, I could never round mileage up in my running log. Some things never change.
I am linking up with Clean East Fast Feets for her Week in Review. Check it out for some more great reads (including some very yummy recipes!) I am linking up with Patty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run. Love these running-related blogs! I am linking up with Char at Trekking Thru and with Teaching What Is Good for their Tuesday Link-up. Check out some moving inspirational blogs here. I am linking up with Shank You Very Much for her Dream Team link up. I am linking up with Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart. I am linking up with Eclectic Evelyn for her Words on Wednesday link up. I am linking with Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun.