Recently, my husband insisted on watching our toddler so that I could go run on my own. I accepted and hit the road on my own, without a stroller or a dog. As I ran around the neighborhood track at 7:30 a.m., in a light fog, I realized how different I am than I ever expected. Over the last year and a half, I have changed as a runner, and I have allowed running to change me, too. Not only have I ditched the headphones and seriously increased my average speed. but I have become a different type of human being.
1) I am more dedicated to improvement – After seeing the changes that came to my speed and endurance with dedicated practice, I feel more dedicated to other tasks, as well. I am open to accepting larger projects at work. I am okay with the novel I’m writing taking several years to write. I saw real improvement in my running after about four years, and I’m willing to put in that work in other areas of my life.
2) I am healthier – In order to feel satisfied with my running, I have to run well. In order to run well, I have to eat well. In order to even consider running at all, I have to sleep well. I have adjusted my sleeping and eating patterns and, as a result, have not only lost baby weight but have more energy for other tasks.
3) I am open to trying new things – Before last month, I had never mowed a lawn. My husband’s intense work schedule, though, left our little patch of grass rather jungle-like, so I took matters into my own (newly muscled) arms and pushed the mower around until the lawn looked decent. I am stronger as a result of pushing the stroller around, and if I can run a half marathon, I can certainly mow a lawn. It turns out, I can also edge a lawn, use the yard vacuum and, on an entirely unrelated note, teach PE. I have pushed my body and mind to levels I never considered possible, and now I am far more open to other possibilities. If I can run 13.1 miles without stopping, I can do just about anything.
4) I am proud of myself – I have done a few things in my life that make me feel proud. I got into my dream college. I worked full-time while getting a master’s degree. I had a baby without an epidural. Still, running makes me feel the most proud, because it is something I have actually stuck to over several years. I haven’t given up, though there have been times I have wanted to, and I am amazed that when given the chance to have an hour to myself on a cold fall morning, I chose to run.
Running has made me a stronger, better person. I am sure that the serotonin has something to do with it, but I am grateful for what running has given me – confidence, courage, and a fitter, faster body.