I love to run.
At least I love it as much as anyone can love doing anything they are bad at.
I love it even when my sports bra rubs the skin off my collar bone.
I love it while I am lumbering down a hot street and trying to concentrate on increasing the number of times my feet hit the pavement while feeling distracted by my shorts riding up the insides of my quivering thighs.
I love it despite the fact it has been the cause of so many injuries. I have loved it through multiple stress fractures, calf tears, sprained ankles and hip flexor soreness.
I especially love it when I can’t do it.
I adamantly love it every time an orthopedist, endocrinologist or any other medical “ist” suggests that maybe it is time for me to think about taking up swimming.
It’s true that swimming causes less impact on bones, but it is wet. I’ve voiced this argument with the medical doctors who have advised this change in activity, but they are somehow unconcerned with the wetness associated with swimming.
I say, “But it’s wet.”
They say, “And your point is?”
I can’t even with these people.
But running is the chance, even if it is momentary to feel that sensation of propelling yourself forward. I usually start with a quick walk and then break into a slow lumbering jog. I check everything. How are my feet today? My legs, shoulders, neck? How is my breathing? Do my sneakers feel okay? Is my shirt rubbing? Is my music lively?
Moving forward I might break into a slow sloggy shuffling run. I swing my arms. I work to get my feet down. I try not to let my hips swing too much. I guess on a younger woman it might look sexy, but I’m more intent on trying to engage my glutes than in enticing the fellow runners and dog walkers in my neighborhood.
Sometimes I get to that Aha moment. My legs are moving easily and I feel my own strength each time I push off the pavement and smoothly propel forward. My shoulders are relaxed, my breathing is deep but not labored.
My arms swing. I lean forward slightly with my body but my head is erect.
I am running. Actually running.
It is powerful.
Some days I reach this moment, and on many others I am just one more sloggy mess jostling down the street. Adjusting clothing with each step and trying not to wheeze too loudly.
Today was a good day. I actually ran. Sort of. For me. As best I could.
And then I checked my Runkeeper and realized I have had a milestone day.
2500 miles run.
It has taken many years to reach this. Many injuries. There are weeks and months where I am accumulating mileage regularly. And then there are the down times. The injured times. The sad times when running is the only activity that will save me from my inner demons and it becomes inaccessible. Those are the days, weeks and months when I stay inside, with ice pressed upon some damaged joint and a bag of chips in my hand.
But 2500 miles.
If I could string them all into one huge effort that would take me from my daughter’s apartment in Brooklyn to my other daughter’s place in Los Angeles. Well, it would take me at least as far as Los Vegas and then I could rest before adding in a few hundred more miles.
So here is today’s revelation.
Small steps really do add up.
I hope that is true in so many ways.
Now I’m going to go check the tread on my running shoes, and treat myself to a snack.
I feel like I have earned it.