Running changed my life. No, not just in the obvious ways – though it’s true, I am much healthier and much happier since running and I shacked up together four short years ago. Let me rephrase: running changed the way I live.
It’s no secret I have always enjoyed being busy, and that I thrive under a scheduled out day that leaves me very few gaps or unaccounted for time. But in my pre-running hay day, I often had more lag time. And that lag time turned into a dull sense of stasis in which the world moved around me but I didn’t quite move with the world. There is certainly nothing wrong with this sort of lifestyle if it should suit you, but it made me uncomfortable. It made me antsy.
And then, there was running.
Truth be told, I’m a chaser. I’ve said it in various ways in the past – that I beat dead horses into the ground, that I won’t stop until someone else says when, that I’ve got my eye on the prize – but those are far too harsh for the reality of my chasing. My chasing is slow and steady; I’m built for endurance, not for speed, and this holds true in running, biking, swimming, and life.
As a chaser, I’m rarely content with the status quo. I’m not comfortable unless I’m reaching out, expanding past my comfort zone, connecting the world within itself. My friend and fellow runner Tami once asked me what I thought it would be like not to be a chaser, and we agreed that to not chase would be strange, an ill-fitting garment that stops the natural way of breathing. If I’m not in motion, or planning to be in motion, or in a spot of planned rest, I feel wanderlust.
All this relates to my relationship with running in a slightly different way, which came to my attention when my brother asked me how I managed to self-start various parts of my life. It took some thought, but the answer is this: I don’t negotiate with myself. Which is funny, considering all the Food Rehab talk recently, but when it comes to anything non food related, there is zero room for negotiation. I think, “I will get out the door by the time the clock strikes 7:45” and Sha-Zam! Done. I don’t think “I hope to get out the door but if I happen to futz around with the dishes…” or “I want to get out the door.” My internal dictator makes the decress, and it happens.
Which is yes, how I wake up to swim in the morning, or how I show up to spin class twenty minutes early. I’m always trying to do a million different things, and the only way to get it all to happen is to go-go-go. My mind whispers rush rush rush and I talk to myself in exclamation points (“Swim cap! Pool! Shower! Coffee! Work! Type more! More coffee!”). And I do a lot of this for future Runner’s Delight; future me does not work well with skipping out on goals, missing deadlines, or being lazy. In fact, future me will be like “Oh holy night, really?” Which totally sucks, because you cannot get that time back.
There are no question marks, no room for interpretation. The best version of me I’ve ever been was when I would wake up, swim, work two jobs, run, come home, grade papers for job three, and do it all again the next day. The only way to get everything done is to hustle. And have conviction.
Running gives me an anchor to my day, a space holder which everything else can revolve around. Moreso, running gives me a chance to chase on days and at moments when chasing feels undoable, or when I’m caught in a humdrum routine simply out of sheer need to meet basic bill paying or didn’t plan as well as I could have.
So the chase is on. While I’m not the fastest hare by any means, I do tend to keep going and going; now, I’m left looking over my shoulder and hoping someone will keep pace.