Having a dog with high exercise needs has had some life-altering repercussions. I used to be your basic, mostly-in-shape gal, but I’ve turned into an I-must-run-long-distances-everyday freak. I haven’t decided if this is a blessing or a curse. I mean, at first it was a matter of life and death—wear the dog out before he drives us all to cyanide. But now he’s old and doesn’t need a three-mile torture tour everyday.
Yet I still do it on my own.
Freak, I tell you.
Is it justifiable if I claim addiction to the aerobic conditioning and the feeling of accomplishment my run gives me? That I drag my ragged body out of bed every morning because I need my fix?
And when I finish my run, I come home and take Henry for his (which is pretty much a 100-meter dash and then much walking).
Winter time makes exercise more challenging. There are days or weeks when ice, snow, or bitter north winds cancel my run (and Henry’s sprint). Compound that with a few days of travel and an occasional injury that sidelines me because I’m probably too old for this. Lack of everyday training cuts my three-mile run down to one torturous mile.
Then, because of my…hmm, still don’t know if it’s a blessing or curse…because of my whatever, I MUST work everyday to build myself back up to three miles.
Slow. Painful. Process.
Which may or may not end in success before the next injury, blizzard, or traveling hiatus.
It’s always hardest right after I add another lap to my run. I try to incorporate a section of the neighborhood I haven’t been through lately so my brain has something to occupy itself with other than “IamgoingtodieIamgoingtodieIamgoingtodie.”
This time, my newest loop has a great downhill stretch that gives me a chance to relax before the long trek home. Unfortunately, the same hill has a few driveways and sidewalks with a type of stained concrete that always makes the pavement look wet.
In winter, wet means ice hazard.
Here’s the thing, I’m still paranoid about falling on the ice even when I know darn well it’s above freezing. Somehow my oxygen deprived brain believes ice can exist at forty degrees because it looks icy and it feels cold outside.
I either detour through the grass, which slows me down, or I do a stupid-looking shuffle step like I’m trying to run without actually putting my feet on the pavement.
Losing your stride, your rhythm, feels like throwing a rod in your well-tuned Ferrari. (Okay, I’m probably a Corolla, but you get the idea.) The worst part is that I miss the freedom of the downhill, the chance to breathe, to rejuvenate before the long stretch home.
All because I forget what I know and give in to how things look and feel.
That needs to stop.
As I huff and puff my way through the midpoint of this morning’s run, my breath makes clouds in the cold. The temperature has been hanging at forty all week. I round a bend and see my blessed downhill. Then…icy-looking concrete.
But I refuse to focus on feelings and appearances.
Today I will not trade what I know for what I fear. (Click to tweet this)
There. Is. No. Ice.
I run straight through the mirage, head high, traction solid. I breathe in the delight of easy, loping strides. The wind kisses my face, rumples my sweatshirt. My whole body sings with the joy of motion.
I could do this all day.
Well, if the hill went on forever.
It doesn’t though. But you know what? That long, flat backstretch home doesn’t seem so long now. Today I make it without a chainsaw hacking at my lungs, without a cramp ripping my side. Today that voice screaming at me to give up is a whisper I squelch without a thought.
Trusting what I know gave me a chance to rejuvenate, to focus my strength, to maintain my stride.
And that made all the difference.
I know something else now, too. Whatever faces me in life, whatever tasks God gives me to do? They might be one heck of a challenging run.
But that’s okay.
Whatever things may look like, or feel like, don’t much matter.
It’s what I know that counts.
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