On paper, we’re a perfect match. I have long legs. I prefer solo sports because I’m too competitive for group activities. I don’t want to do it constantly, so the time commitment is minimal.
And yet, for years I’ve had an on-again, off-again (but mostly off) relationship with running. Because we seem like we’d get along so well, I keep coming back, but to be honest, I’ve never really enjoyed it. Allegedly you can build up your endurance, but mine is always awful.
So yesterday, after the euphoria from the idea of it being 75 degrees in the middle of March wore off, after about 5 minutes, I felt like I was going to fall over. As I ran, I felt my insides threatening to burst, and I felt that cookie I’d eaten a half hour earlier warn of its impending jettison, and I felt burning in my legs.
In the past when I felt like this, I stopped, because I’ve learned that when your body is telling you something, it’s not a good idea to ignore it (otherwise you could end up throwing up all over your Oscar the Grouch project). But yesterday, I didn’t stop. I decided to ignore my body’s warnings and keep running, despite the fact that everything was getting fuzzy. I avoided thinking about the sharp pain that had migrated to my butt. I angrily waved the car on when its driver honked at me to go through the intersection ahead of it when clearly I was waiting for it to go first because I needed a tiny break. And after that intersection, I kept running. I kept running. I kept running until my body went on strike because it was sick of arguing with my head and had taken matters into its own hands. Then I scooped up my useless legs and reasoned with them until they agreed to walk me home, as long as I promised never to force them to do something they didn’t want to do again. I told them I’d think about it and they took pity on me and said that was good enough for now.
In the moment, it seemed smart to keep running. I thought that if I could overcome this terrible, physical agony and just push through it like real runners claim it’s possible to do, then I could do anything. If I could ignore the alarm bells telling me I’m trying too hard and reaching too far, then maybe I could prove that “too far” doesn’t exist.
Of course, that was impossible because it does exist; I went there yesterday. But before my legs turned to jelly and reminded me that today I wouldn’t even be able to walk because of the pain in my muscles, I did feel stronger, so I think I’ll go too far again sometime. Maybe not while running, though. This could be the start of a good on-again phase of our relationship here, and I don’t want to ruin it.