Yesterday I completed a major milestone. I ran for 35 minutes. Now for some of you this is a regular task and you would have been bewildered if you could have seen my enormous smile that catapulted me in to my local bakery, gasping for a glass of water as they made my morning coffee. You may laugh and chuckle at the thought of how my red, sweaty face bobbed up and down on the pavements, under the trees and along the running track through my park, smiling away to my favourite tunes of the day. With every minute more on the clock I felt courageous, energised, strong, tall and confident – a superwoman in fact, capable of absolutely anything. Cause in all transparency – I always thought I hated running. I thought I was not capable of completing ten minutes, let alone more than half an hour and as I lie here – resting my somewhat sore legs – I think of all the amazing things I have accomplished so far and how with every new challenge ahead I could have chosen not to do it, could have turned around half way or given up entirely and yet, I just kept going.
Twelve months ago we all embarked on one of our most challenging runs. Each of us taking it at a different pace, at different competence levels, some of us with top notch trainers, some of us with worn soles and others barefoot. None of us have been down this particular road before and so we struggle to see around the next corner, always hoping to get a glimpse of the finish line. Already accustomed to set backs and detours, we are still running forward and new hills appear on the horizon that seem impossible to tackle. The closer we stand in front of them the more impossible it sometimes seems. We keep going, knowing that once we get to the pinnacle, the decent will be a piece of cake. And yet I already know that the road will decide the journey and that the running is endless. We run away from grief, towards love, with passion, against the masses, along with anything and sometimes we run in circles. Running is not something we start doing or stop doing, nor is it a practice that defines who we are or who we are not. When we run, we chose the direction and we decide how long we want to keep it up and at what pace we want to continue. We feel the asphalt beneath each step, we feel our ankles give way when we lose balance, we feel the pain in our legs and stitch in our side and we hear the beat of our heart, as each breath fills our body with oxygen.
There have been moments this past year, where I could barely crawl, weighed down by the heaviness of everything around me and then there are days where I feel a spring in my step and the intense desire to fully embrace the next mile. It is a constant roller coaster between running alone through a forest where the trees are so thick and tall you can hardly see the daylight or feel the rain as it is braced by the canopy and then being cheered on by a crowd of supporters as I break through to the open field. Most of the time it feels more like a marathon, less like a sprint. Knowing that we are all in this together, supporting each other and all running toward the same finish line only to get through this unscathed.
We are all running. We are all runners. The path is bumpy, the road long and the journey unknown and yet I know we will make it. So maybe this is all running is – perseverance, trusting and believing in yourself and letting the road take control instead of trying to control the road.