What I learned from running.
I love running.
I hate running.
I love running.
I hate running.
I love running.
I started running with a friend, in high school, before going to class. But it was more for spending some time together, to catch up and talk about our future rather than training for a competition. And when she moved away, I gave up. I didn't like running by myself anyway. In university, I ran for one semester - I had to do some sport to get my credits, so I went on the running track and hated every single minute spent there. It was boring and got me nowhere - I just ran in circles. I looked at people who seemed that they enjoyed doing it and I felt sorry for them. I truly believed that people who spent there more than 30 minutes have nothing better to do with their free time.
I went back to running after a breakup. I had to find a plan to start over again - with life, with not having a boyfriend, with sending resumes, while canceling the wedding plans and explaining friends and family why I gave up Vienna. It was awful. I didn't want to do any of that but had no alternative. Life got in the way, and I had to accept it. The perks of being an adult, I thought. But this time I was in my hometown and the running track is in a beautiful park. The first 200 meters that I ran almost knocked me down. And the next day, it happened again, but I got up. I knew I have to let my anger and frustration out somehow and I hoped running will do the trick. So I decided to show up day after day.
I was running to undo the damage I've done to my body by postponing being active for so long. I was running to regain the feeling of being complete, expecting to relieve me of discomfort and pain. I was running in the early morning breeze, being embarrassed to feel the tears on my face. Few found the satisfaction to greet the coming day, among the drops of morning dew, but not me. My anger mingled with feelings of jealousy, rivalry, and envy. I was jealous at people who made running look fun and easy and exciting. I was angry at people who ran longer or faster than me. This time I felt sorry for me. My running routine lasted only a couple of months because my broken heart decided that, in the end, I hate running. So I said goodbye.
But on 1st of March 2015, the sense of loss returned. I felt again the dull aching pain of being utterly alone, and I asked the running track to take me back. I was apologetic, regretful, and desperately wanted to show that now I was going to commit. This time, I will show up, no matter how I feel, no matter how the weather is, no excuses. I was ready to give running a try — a real attempt. I will run in circles for as long as I have to because I love running. Week after week after week I was there, on the streets, in a park, around my neighborhood, anywhere, anytime. I was committed until I had to give up running again. But this time it was something that I had no power over, and I had to accept, once again, that I need time to recover after surgery.
But the minute I had my running shoes back on, I told everyone that I love running. I was happy for being able to run 2 kilometers. I was back, and this time I was going to stick with it. It didn't matter that I used to run 10K before, I was thankful for having muscle pain after running for 15 minutes. I was grateful for being able to run in the rain, to run on fresh snow, to run in the forest and to make new friends. Running did me good. I loved running.
When I moved to Berlin, running was already part of me. I had to run; there was no way around it. Four months I ran twice, three or four times per week. I was training for a half marathon, and I was going to enjoy every mile of it. But I had an accident at a party, and I had to pause running again. I hoped it would be for a couple of months, but we're in January 2019 and I my running shoes are hidden in my closet.
I miss running because I learned what a runner is. I learned that no matter how slow I run, I am lapping everyone who's sitting on the couch. I learned that pain is inevitable, but it doesn't last forever. I learned that on the days I didn't feel like running, showing up was the best decision. I learned that on the days I ran for the pure, absolute joy, I felt free.
I might not always love running, but I find enjoyment in having run. I have my ritual. I now recognize how my body reacts, I know that, in the end, it's personal - it's between me and running. It's me being out of my comfort zone and accepting new challenges and overcoming the fear of not being the best. It has been an on-again, off-again relationship and I openly negotiated transitions into or out of it. But I learned that it doesn't matter how long I've been out there or how many times I said goodbye. I am always welcome to run - to run far, to run slow, to run fast, to run away my sadness, to run my joy. But above all, running has given me a life lesson: there is no failing, as long as I keep going. I have to put one foot in front of another. And repeat.
I run therefore I am a runner.