"Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different..." C.S. Lewis
Seven years and thousands of miles ago, I couldn't run a single mile without stopping. I couldn't run a mile without feeling like my lungs were going to burst out of me, without feeling like my knees weren't meant to run, without worrying, "But I don't look like a runner."
When will running get easy? It's a question I asked when I first started running, and it's a question I often get asked today. And I don't quite know how to answer that. I don't want to say, "After all these years, after all these miles, running still isn't easy for me." And yet that's the truth. Because I don't want to scare any new runners away. I want anyone and everyone who is interested in running to give it a fair shot. I can't answer that simple question with a simple answer. I know they are hoping to hear, "After a few weeks... after a few months... after you get used to doing a few miles a day, a few times a week -- that's when it'll get easy." But that wouldn't be truthful. The truth is: It's complicated.
My running truths are that it never really does get easy. You'll learn to love that some days you'll look forward to a run and other days you'll have to drag yourself out the door -- confused how you can love something so much yet some days find it so challenging. You'll learn that sometimes it takes you a long time to get warmed up in your run but when you do, everything falls in place and for a moment -- maybe a mile, or quite a few miles -- it does feel easy. You'll learn that that easy feeling will come and go and that sometimes you'll want to run a pace that feels comfortable and some days you'll want to push the pace so hard you feel like your lungs are going to burst -- and somehow both runs will leave you feeling smiling, breathless and thankful.
You'll learn that when you find something you're passionate about, boredom won't be a factor. You'll accept that thoughts will flow; that you'll sometimes fixate on a problem, a worry, a love, a fear; that you'll work through some of your biggest problems and before you know it, miles will be past you and you'll wonder, How did I get here? You'll get lost in your head -- the music, the scenery or simply the focus of getting through your run.
I've been running for a little over seven years -- for some that's a lifetime, for others, I've just started. I hardly feel a difference, but after all these days, years and miles, when I look carefully, I see everything is different.
I'm a running thief. Running gives me so much, and I take and take and give it nothing in return. It has helped me transform -- not on the outside, but it's on the inside I feel most different. I've learned my mind and heart are stronger than I ever thought possible. My body is capable of more than I ever imagined. I've transformed on the inside to feel more confident about me -- no matter what I look like on the outside. My biggest transformation will always be on the inside -- having the confidence to push myself farther, to chase after my goals and dreams -- even if I feel scared. Running has given me the best gift: the knowledge that our heart doesn't want easy -- it wants life. And life is beautiful, messy, challenging, breathtaking, sometimes scary, full of laughter and lots of tears -- but no, like life, running isn't easy.
Running has taught me that no matter what I look like on the outside, the heart is where it matters. My heart defines me -- as a runner, wife, mother, writer and more. My heart is what pushes me when I want to give up. It wasn't a finish line that told me I'm a runner -- it was one day when I was out running, with nobody cheering me on, no finish line medal waiting for me. It was one ordinary day, when my heart whispered in a quiet cheer, You are a runner.
My running truth is that not everybody is meant to love running. What a boring world would it be if we were all passionate about the same thing? One of my favorite things is seeing what others are passionate about. You know because their eyes light up, they speak with confidence and a lightness of wanting to share what brings them joy -- and you can't help but smile from seeing the way the light radiates from them from the inside out. They are beautiful. Running has made me hope my children find their passion. I believe passionate people bring beauty to the world. Like a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly -- it's not the wings that make the butterfly beautiful, but its confidence and passion to fly.
Join Nicole at MyFitFamily as she writes about her training for her first ultra-marathons, being a mother to four and finding the balance of it all.