Running past failure

I ran today! It wasn’t far and it certainly wasn’t fast, but I ran.

Running, to me, symbolizes the signs of being healthy. If I can run fast, then I’ve gotten strong, I’ve mastered my asthma, and I can push myself in the short-term. If I can run long, then I’ve learned the balance between speed and distance; I’ve been able to overcome muscular problems; I’m eating well enough that my tummy can take being jostled for a while.

For the last two years, if I can even bring myself to lace up my shoes, then I’ve won a mental battle for my health. I’ve done it maybe 50 times in the last 730 days.

Running is hard for me. I have cellulite and my thighs rub and my shorts crawl up. My shins hurt easily and my lungs seize up unexpectedly and dangerously. I jiggle and flop and I’m not graceful. My legs are unconventionally hairy (I don’t shave them) and my legs are almost yellow after a winter spent indoors. I’m the slowest 22-year old runner I know; I will likely never be able to run with anyone in my age group, because I’m so slow.

I could walk instead. I do walk instead. Walking’s easy, even at my briskest pace. I can go for miles.

But running… Running’s special to me. I can do it in a regimented, structured way. I can just go and alternate between walking and running on the basis of my body’s dictates. It’s never boring.

But just getting out the door is so hard for me. Running is at times unbearably lonely, and at times an unbearably painful reminder of how far I have to go to be at even my own definition of “fit”.

It’s not a step-at-a-time sort of goal for me, to be able to run. It’s a shoe-at-a-time thing, I suppose. It’s looking at my calendar of workouts, seeing that it’s an aerobic day, and choosing to put on the shoes. There are no shortcuts to success, no fancy reminders that will get me to do it, no magic pill to make the pains go away, no way to not feel the weight.

The only way to move past my failure to run… is to run.