A friend of mine recently decided to start running again. She bought running shoes and some new technical clothes and she was ready to go. She started two weeks ago and has run about four times. This week she confided that she is sad that she doesn’t love running the way other people do and it occurred to me that I profess my love of running everyday to anybody who will listen. Even on days when my run has been horrible, when my legs hurt, I chafe, or I was winded too soon, I love running.
For me, running is a quest to find the perfect run. The perfect run does not come every day or even every week. It might be a month between perfect runs but there is always the promise of one. And I believe that a bad run just increases my chance of having the perfect run next time.
There is no way to know when it will come. It could be on a morning when I wake up early with an overwhelming desire to head out the door or it might come on a day when my head is throbbing or I slept poorly the night before. It might be a perfect 60 degrees and sunny or it might be 98 degrees and raining cats and dogs.
During a perfect run, I feel like I am eight years old again. I run without thinking about the rhythm of my breath or the length of my stride. I run without thinking at all. Often I am running far too fast for my planned workout but in a perfect run, it doesn’t matter, because I am Wonder Woman. I am unstoppable.
So, hoping for the run that will have me walking on air for the rest of the day, I lace up my shoes and head out the door. In my quest for perfection, I deal with the bad runs because I know the perfect one will come and because, like the pain of child birth, the pain of a bad run will disappear. I might look back and complain about the heat or the niggle in my leg but I won’t remember exactly how excruciatingly difficult it was. And I certainly won’t talk about that part with others.
As a runner, I feel an obligation to bring others over to the sport, to guide them into a running lifestyle and telling them about the pain is not going to get them there. The love of the sport, the high I get on the perfect run, these are things I can share. These are the selling points.
I feel guilty for not talking about the difficult runs with my friend before she started. I feel a little dishonest, but then, I think, that it is in the pushing past the hard part, continuing despite the pain that we become true runners. I could have shared all of my experiences with her, but it wouldn’t have helped. Running is a journey with bad runs and good runs and ultimately, if you stick with it, perfect runs. And it is through this journey that my friend will find the love of the run.