I went for a brisk run last night in Boulder. I say brisk, because of the pace and not, for once, because Mother Nature has been acting like a college student this spring. Instead of spreading her work out over the entirety of winter, she's crammed it in last minute. The stool on my deck was pissed about it.
In between being happy I didn't have to worry about falling on ice again and wondering if I just look like a blur to the Kenyans lapping me, I thought about how much I enjoy running, and how different that is from a previous version of me.
It's become a central activity in my life, and among the most important things I do. So much of who I've become and what I've been able to accomplish in the past two years has been through the help of running. During long runs or furiously paced runs have come my greatest moments of clarity.
It's how I lost over 60 pounds in a little over a year.
It's how I've kept those pounds off, despite my love of craft beer.
It's how I decided moving back to Colorado was the right thing.
It's how I decided staying here was the right thing when I had opportunities to leave.
It's how I worked through important projects and ideas - both work and personal.
It's how I realized I was overworked, unappreciated and unhealthy at my last job.
It's how I figured out how to change that.
It's how I realized I liked Jill...like, liked her. Like, a lot....
It's how I write most of these posts.
It's how I've gotten myself to steady, healthy place.
The real benefits from my increased dedication to running (besides awesome calves and the ability to avoid zombies better) have been the lessons I've learned about perseverance. In Hebrew, my first name means "Strong, Enduring" and those are attributes I take pride in. It wasn't until I started running regularly, however, that I saw those traits manifest in me to the fullest. Running has taught me above all else, strength. I've become physically stronger through running, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Since moving to Boulder especially, I've found myself on long or challenging runs - pushing myself to the brink. I mean that in a physical sense - battling fatigue, cramps, aches, pain - but also in an emotional sense.
Running can be taxing. It can stretch you so thin and strip you so bare that you just want to shut down and say "screw it, I give in." - especially in a place like Boulder, Colorado where the air is thin, and everything is a hill. I like that though. When you're at that moment you really have nothing left to do...except to take one more step. You put your foot in front of the other one more time.
There is a reason running is so often used as a metaphor for life. We're often challenged so much with pain, suffering, death, destruction, financial woes, relational woes, and - if you're a Cubs fan - terrible baseball year in and year out. We're often stretched so thin and stripped so bare, that it seems unreasonable and whimsical to think anything good can come of it.
But we take another step.
A parent or friend dies. We take another step.
We lose our job. We take another step.
Some assholes plant a bomb in Boston. We take another step.
This is what running has taught me. Take another step.
All right, so how do I wrap this up? I started jabbering about how awesome running is, and then I got all inspirational or something. Hm. How about I go with a "choose your own adventure" on this one? Yeah? Great.
OPTION 1: So I firmly recommend running as a way to get yourself centered. It's the easiest thing to start doing. Put shoes one and run. If you're in need of something like that, here's How to Become a Runner in 5 Easy Steps.
OPTION 2: "That's great you like running so much, Coate. Welcome to being out of your mind." Fine. Just look at this picture of Ryan Gosling running, and then go back to whatever cat YouTube videos you were watching before.