Monday, December 2, 2013

Growing healthy

I'm going to try and connect a few dots here. Bear with me.

I often say that I found myself out on a run. It's not a new concept; I don't know where I first heard it, but it certainly isn't original. Running - for some of us, anyway - is a philosophical pursuit as well as a physical one, and often times when I'm out there, competing against just me, I dig into places that require me to rise above myself. Or I'll be out for a long enough time that my mind wanders off and discovers things I didn't know. Or couldn't acknowledge. Anyway, out there, it's just me (and occasionally a close friend) and the run.

It's where I do my best thinking. And it's where I have healed. And grown healthy.

In a very real way, time and running have healed me. I was a new runner when I got my first injury: a micro-tear in my right Achilles tendon. It was awful. I couldn't raise up on tiptoe; I walked with a consistent limp. A careful regimen of slow jogging (as if I do anything fast!) and physical therapy allowed me to heal in a real, tangible way. My Achilles recovered, and I was cleared to run again.

But that's nothing compared to what has happened to my soul since I became a runner.

Yesterday, I was reading through an old journal of mine. In early 2007, I wrote from a place of devastation. I wrote of wishing for strength, wanting answers, needing someone to understand. I wrote about loneliness and fear of dying alone. I wrote about fear of not dying, as if surviving the pain was worse than leaving this world. I even wrote that I wished I could become seriously ill, so he might understand the error of his ways.

What I didn't realize was that I was seriously ill. Through the depression, I really couldn't see it, but I was dying on the vine.

In the summer of 2007, I wrote that when I got my finances in order, I would join Lifetime Fitness. I followed through on that, and the rest is history. One step at a time, I began to heal.

It would be a long time before I would actually begin to run. First I'd argue that I couldn't run. Then I'd say I didn't want to run. And all the while, I would see runners and secretly ponder how much I wanted what they had.

So why not? Why not run? Why not at least try? It was the summer of 2008 - the same week my divorce was final, in fact - that I laced up my cross trainers to try it for the first time. And I failed a lot. A fast (to me) walk was about all I could muster. But I kept trying. A few years later, in the fall of 2010, I would finish my first race.

And nothing would ever be the same.

I found myself on the run. I met the best and worst parts of myself out there, and I blazed (or walked or stumbled) past them. I kept going.

In the finding came the healing. In the healing came true health. Not that I'm where I want to be; not by a longshot. But from here, I can be content. I can rest easy knowing that I've done the hardest work, and the rest will come because I am determined and tenacious and a little bit nuts.