When I think of things I can do during the day to make me happy, working out is never on the list.
I love hearing about the stories of some “high” people get when they go running. There is some mysterious event that occurs in the bodies of some who need to conquer the road with their own feet. Some accelerant pumping through their veins with the element of surprise that excites the mind of the runner, forcing them to keep going. To break through the wall and push past the pain, to keep the beat of their pace to match the drive they feel bursting in their hearts.
To me, however, these experiences of endorphin rushes and running miles upon miles without death keeping pace next to you, are just like the tall tales of Paul Bunyan and his mighty blue ox, Babe, carving out the landscapes with his ax. Someone may have seen him do this, years ago, and the stories may have some credence. Maybe some gigantic man with an ax walked across the plains of America, putting his mark on the earth. But I have never seen any of his footprints, or even the reflection of blue from Babe shining upon the flowing streams across the lands….
It seems as if these mysterious people who run for pleasure reach some point in themselves where time stands still and their body is okay with pushing the limits. Some ephemeral space that makes them put on their running shoes and demand more.
This has never happened for me. I have made an effort to run, with my special inflated running shoes and my purple compression pants, and even my motto blazed across my running shirt that says, “Running Sucks.”
I’m the next cover of Vogue, I just know it.
I run for my health; but admittedly, I run a little. I certainly don’t wake up in the morning and plan on running. I plan on coffee and the agenda for the day…and maybe, just maybe, I can squeeze in one mile on the treadmill during the afternoon when the older kids are finishing up their schoolwork and the younger kids are sleeping. But this is a scheduled event that sometimes, more often than I like to admit, gets pushed off in favor of other things I believe to be more important (laundry, cooking dinner, helping with schoolwork, tending the house, working on projects, etc.).
Yet, I am always thinking about running. It isn’t on my mind that I “have to,” but honestly something that I sincerely “want to.” I want that endorphin rush, and I want to feel like I have conquered the road. I would love to run for miles and feel amazing, instead of getting to 0.6 miles and having to talk myself into making it to 1.0 without stopping.
I want to run without feeling the bulk of my body crashing on my legs, or the muscles that used to be in my abdomen actually hurt, convincing me that they even exist anymore after 5 gigantic pregnancies. I want my physical strength to be on par with my intellectual strength.
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
― Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
My goal is to be the lion. To wake up in the morning and chase the day until it gives up and becomes mine. And the only way I can get there is to be stronger, faster, more driven than the fleeing gazelle.
I may not have the endorphins of the runner. I may never get that rush of running a marathon. But the force of the lion is within me, pushing me to strength.
This is my drive.
I might get there on roller skates, though.