For most of my life, I’ve been an active person. I frequented dance classes. I’ve slogged it to the gym (though that’s never my first choice). I spent a good chunk of time devoted to yoga, even going through a year-long teacher training class to deepen my study. But I think if I were ordered to choose just one method of exercise, it would have to be running.
I’ve had a very long love affair with running. As I said, there’s always been other things and right now my yoga bug is reigniting, but there’s something truly special about putting one foot in front of the other in rhythmic succession as your body cuts through the air and you move and the endorphins pump through your veins. There’s a freedom about it that’s intoxicating and I’m always happier afterward. There’s so much of the world you see that you wouldn’t see otherwise. Life as it looks at sunrise. The happiness of other runners out in the snow. The elation and pride as people cross the finish line of a challenging race.
And there’s so many places I hold dear because of running—I’ve ran on the bike path along the beach in Venice and Santa Monica, California; I’ve chugged it along the Minutemen Trail in Cambridge, Massachuetts, and out into Arlington and beyond; I’ve ran along the Charles River in Cambridge and Boston; I’ve run through downtown San Francisco and out to the Embacadero Promenade along the waterfront; I’ve gotten up at the crack of dawn for a 7-mile cruise along the Las Vegas Strip; I’ve gotten out for a quick lunch run through the streets of Boston; and gotten soaked running through Portland, Oregon.
Speaking of rain.
It was pouring today, and a little window of time opened up when it slowed. I quickly put on my running clothes and went outside, but sure enough the sky opened up and began dumping buckets. Frustrated, I went back inside, and began complaining to my boyfriend over gchat.
A confluence of factors, including some recurring injuries, have found me in my least in-shape status ever. As I became less active, things that would never have stopped me before—the cold (so what, go to the gym), I’m too busy (so make time), I don’t feel like it (I always felt like it!)—suddenly became “reasons” for not working out. Today, I truly had only enough time to run outside, the gym would’ve taken too long, so it was brave the elements or nothing. As I whined away, I suddenly thought of my sister, who is truly an awe-inspiring machine and who ran almost an entire marathon in the rain. It’s amazing how we all impact each other, how what we do can inspire the people around us. Another friend, who is more of a newbie, also ran an important-to-her race—a half marathon—all in the rain. She ran it with a friend who has since died of breast cancer (at the age of 30), and the memory of that rain-soaked run will be one she treasures. And then there was myself of not so long ago, who loved running in the rain because it always evoked the joy and freedom of being a kid. When else do you have a free pass to splash through puddles as an adult?
It dawned on me: I was not going to let Winter boss me around anymore—or any other “reasons” for that matter. I put my shoes and jacket back on, headed out in the rain, and did my run. And like something from The Secret, the rain slowed until right at the end when it gave me a good soak.
By then, of course, I was too happy to care.