This week I celebrate my one year anniversary; an anniversary that was so life-altering that I just had to write a post about it. One year ago I started running.
I know I am about to start sounding like a religious convert; but running has changed my life. I could never have guessed that putting one foot in front of the other could make such an impact.
One year ago I hit the Trans Canada trail in my almost dead winter boots. The trail was packed with snow and ice-- but I felt the time had come to get out and do something for myself. In the past seven years I rarely found time to do anything recreational let alone physically challenging-- my mind and body were crying out for it-- but it was a need that would not be easily met after such a long period of physical dormancy.
I have always been an active person to some degree; have had bouts of being a weight-lifting gym monkey, dabbled in martial arts, fencing, kayaking, rock climbing. I have always been a prodigious walker. But running was a new challenge.
In the beginning I hoped to run 20 minutes without stopping; other than that I had no goals. I just wanted a 20 minute work out to fit into my always busy day.
Things started off pretty good by my standard—some of my first days out I could run for 10 minutes. Then other days doing five was a real chore. But once I had done 10 I knew I could do more.
In three months I was up to 20 minutes, not every day but most. I could run 5 km in about half and hour and was pretty happy with that. I ran almost every day that my kids were in school.
And then summer came.
Most people would consider summer a blessing for any running enthusiast but for me it meant less time to get out on trails and dirt roads because the children no longer had school.
It became my habit to run during every birthday party the kids got invited to; this often meant new roads in different areas of the county. Exploring new ground added to the adventure.
Luckily birthday parties were not the only excitement on offer for kids in this area over the summer holiday and I enrolled the kids in almost everything –recreation for them meant running for me.
I also went home to Massachusetts and went running there with my cousins and ran my first race—a 5 km to raise funds for a Boston bombing victim.
And when my family came to Nova Scotia for a visit, I had a running buddy and a supply of aunts to watch the kiddies while I hit the road.
After my first race I started to dream of more-- I got ready to tackle a 5 mile race in my home town. At first that seemed like an impossible goal but I did it and then did another 5 mile road race in the next town down the shore.
In July and August running 5 miles was the end of me for the rest of the day-- I had to come home and sleep. I could not run the next day. It took all my energy. So 5 mile runs were not something I was planning to make a habit of doing-- regular 5 km runs seemed good enough.
And then there was the dreaded coming of winter. I could not imagine being a winter runner. Those people were nuts!
Yet again I surprised myself and learned how to run through the winter. Running in the winter when it is harder to get overheated helped me run farther. I went from a regular 5 km run to a regular 5 mile run several times a week.
Now we are heading into a new spring and today I ran just over 6 miles and didn't feel like a limp rag after my run. I have also managed to stay up past 10 pm with no post-run nap.
Every day is not a 6 mile day but they are feeling more normal-- 5km is just enough to get me warmed up now.
When I used to see people running I would ask myself-- why would you do that to yourself? Now I have a few answers to that question.
Running has made me feel more energetic and less stressed. It is my form of meditation, my time to work out everything in my head.
Running always leaves me thinking about how much I can do the next day; excited to get out of bed and back on the road.
Running has brought me closer to some members of my family and my community. It has made me a better person who is disciplined in at least this one aspect of my life (despite my passion for writing I am never disciplined about sitting down and getting the words out on the screen).
The experience has been a conversion for me-- a new way of living, a new force in my life.
It warrants celebration- one year on the run.