The Joy and the Pain of the Run

I’m a runner.

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Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

Well, I try to be at least.

I’m working to get myself back on the bandwagon after over a year off. OH MY GOD, does it suck. Which this in and of itself sucks because I used to be so good at this. I could slap on my running gear and take off for a 3-7 mile run after work, no hesitation. I was never crazy fast and wouldn’t win any Olympic medals – but I was good.

Here I am about 80lbs heavier than I was at my lowest weight and fittest time in my life. My knees hurt, my back hurts, my hips hurt, and after I run about 30 seconds everything else in my body hurts.

Today was no exception. In fact, today was probably the hardest day this week. I know, I know, it’s only Thursday. It’s a journey – give me a break.

Anyway – here I was working through my interval run/walking and feeling like I was failing miserably. My pace felt slower than yesterday. My knee was incredibly tight. My face flushed to the point that I’m sure everyone attending the local Wildcats baseball game thought I was seconds away from collapsing. Not to mention, all of my very wobbly bits were in full view as it is damn near impossible to not let every flaw fly free when running.

My mind was drilling me to the ground with all of the negative things I was so sure the skinny sports moms were saying about me as I pushed myself through this workout. I was embarrassed that anyone was able to see me. I of course only want to be observed when I am in excellent shape, model thin, and flowing through the air with a complexion ready for finish line cameras. Instead, I felt more like a slightly faster version of Jabba the Hutt on full display for all to witness.

Needless to say, my self-esteem was taking a beating.

As I was making my way around the park I saw this young, teenage couple, both rail thin and looking like they just stepped out of Seventeen magazine – and they were walking right towards me. My heart sank. I was going to have to drag my slow, wobbly ass right past these perfect looking teenagers who undoubtedly believe they will look that pristine and put together their entire life. If I thought the sports moms were judgy – I could only imagine how judgey these two would be.

I kept running. I kept looking straight ahead – desperately not wanting to make eye contact. I could literally feel myself slowly dying from embarrassment with every step closer to them.

Then suddenly – something happened that was so damn surprising I nearly tripped.

The boy, in all of his teenage, James Dean glory, dropped his girlfriend’s hand, gave me two thumbs up and said: “You’re doing a great job!“.

EXCUSE ME?!?!?!

My mind raced through the possibility – is he making fun of me? Is this just one of those backhanded compliments that actually translates to a statement on how pathetic I look right now. Probably.

However, I fought off those thoughts with as much energy as I could possibly muster. NO. That was just praise. I may not be perfect, and I may look absolutely ridiculous trying to push myself around this track – but this kid recognized that at least I was trying. More than that, I was actually doing it.

That’s more than I can say for any person who didn’t get out and run today.

I did it.

That thumbs up and the verbal pat on the back? That was all the motivation I needed to push through the discomfort and the pain that comes with trying to do a little better than I did the day before. I  pushed myself and I didn’t stop when I wanted to give up. I stopped when I was finished.

I don’t know who that kid was. I’m not sure if he even recognizes what he did. However, that kid was single handly my cheering section today, when I so desperately needed it. For that, I could never thank him enough.

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Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

I am excited for the opportunity to pay this forward. To be someones cheering section, their motivation, and their support when I know they probably need it the most.

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