Today was the perfect day for a run. Sunny and warm, with a cool breeze to bring the temperature down a few degrees. I love running in the summer. What’s more, I love what running does to me–and for me. Having a bad day? A run will change that. Needing to wake up? A jog can help. Looking forward to a guilt-free dinner out? Thank you very much, little 5-miler.
My favorite side-effect of a run? Of course I love getting a good workout and breaking a sweat, but I run because of what it does for my mind. Once I’m a mile down the road, everything I left at home or work or in my last phone conversation has melted away. It’s almost as if any negative pieces of life are chipping off like paint flakes, revealing a fresh, vulnerable side of me that feels open and willing and hopeful for what’s next. I love the challenge of a race in the distance, the mental and physical preparation and the diligence and perseverance I know it will take to get there. I’m intrigued by the commitment to myself and my body. Medals and certificates feel good, not wholly because of the race, but because of the hundreds of miles I have to push through to finish that race well.
My mind clears itself on a long run. Eventually, the music on my iPod–or the silence without it–patterns my step. When the beat picks up, I alter my pace. When the song is slow and reflective, my spirit goes with it. I pray. I pound out the parts of life I don’t feel like I can handle. I laugh to myself, or cry to myself, or soak in my surroundings and marvel at the Creator who made every plant, leaf, tree, bird, flower…the muscles in my legs, the air in my lungs. I feel alive.
And I love the salty, warm, breathy feeling of arriving home, clocking my pace, getting in a good stretch. I love the winding down moments, as I gradually make my way down the sidewalk, up the driveway. I love the cold glass of water and the way the Kruger wags his tail when I get back. There’s not a whole lot else I can do in an hour that makes me feel exactly this way–perhaps there’s nothing else. Running has added so much to my life, to who I am, to who I aspire to be. I’m grateful for every, single step.