The Girl Who Formerly Hated Running.
Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Very Harry Potteresque. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite have the draw that will make it the crux of a multibillion-dollar franchise. But it does make a nice article title.
Yup, I’m the Girl Who Formerly Hated Running. The word run used to make me break out into a cold sweat.
Growing up, soccer was my sport. But I dreaded the first few weeks of high school soccer season because they invariably involved suicide upon six-minute-mile runs upon stadiums upon 180s upon whatever other cockamamie running scheme the coaches came up with.
Running with a ball or in drills was fine, but Just Plain Running was a different story. Just Plain Running was pure torture, with a capital T.
And then I had major hip surgery in 2011. The surgeon separated my femur from my hip socket to repair a labral tear and remove calcifications caused by hip dysplasia. He put me back together with three plastic pins and sent me packing into six months of physical therapy.
At my one-year post-surgery checkup, I asked if I could play soccer again. I was told that I could—if I traded in the gym elliptical for the pavement.
Imagine how elated I was.
But I gritted my teeth, shoved the whimpering part of me into a distant dimension inside myself, and laced up my kicks.
The first run was … well let’s just say that my hip was none too happy about this new exercise. And I spent the majority of that “run” walking. But with that round, white-and-black carrot dangling in front of my nose, I continued to get out there.
As I did, something weird started to happen: I started to enjoy running. I’m sure that my infatuation with Mumford and Son’s latest album, Babel (affiliate link), helped. The mellow indie music drowned out the screaming my body was doing. But there was more to it than that.
Right around the time I started running, my husband emailed me a comic by The Oatmeal titled “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances.” The author had taken up running 10 years earlier and had finally written about why he runs.
I found the comic terribly amusing, but I didn’t entirely relate to it. The Blerch that follows me around when I run isn’t a fat cherub—it’s a large DQ blizzard.
And then I got to the end of Part 6, where the Oatmeal says, “I’m an introspective person, and sometimes I think too much, about my job and about my life. I feed an army of pointless, bantering demons. But when I run, the world grows quiet.”
Um, yeah—nailed it. That’s exactly why I’ve come to enjoy running so much.
I run because it’s one of the only times I have to myself. I’m called Mommy by three three-year-olds, Wifey by a hardworking husband, Copyeditor by clients, Occasional Blogger by readers, and Fill-in-the-Blank by family and friends. Running is one of the only times where a tumulting toddler isn’t loudly clamoring for my attention, laundry and dishes aren’t staring me in the face, a work deadline isn’t crashing down on my head, and people aren’t asking for my attention. Running gives me time to just be.
It’s one of the only times where my introspective self isn’t overanalyzing something, and Regret, Doubt, and Fear aren’t piping up with their two cents’ worth. This is likely because my brain is too busy barking out orders like a drill sergeant: “Asthma, Shmasma. Airways, don’t you dare close!” “Plantar fasciitis?! Remember recovering from hip surgery? Suck it up, buttercup!”
Running is one of the only times where the real world and my own inner demons stop hassling me. Instead, it’s just me, my music or audiobook or podcast, and the pavement.
Simply put, I run to quiet the voices in my head. And it’s glorious.
I’ve been through my fair share of challenges the last 10 years: recovering from hip surgery, battling infertility, undergoing IVF, carrying triplets, and raising triplets. Running has provided me with a healthy escape and outlet through it all. It’s allowed me to step out of my head, take control over something when many things in my life aren’t in my control, and put a lid on those things and thoughts that I allow to cause me so much stress.
As the Oatmeal says, “The world grows quiet.”