Open to the Experience

For awhile I was having very bad runs. I did almost no running 3 weeks before the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon, and even before that my runs started to become sporadic. It was extremely frustrating. Running has always been a really useful stress relief tactic for me, and to not want to run, and not feel like running, threw my whole mental state into a tailspin.

I wouldn’t feel like going on a run. I’d be grumpy and whine while pulling on my running clothes after work. I’d lay on the bed for awhile and contemplate not running at all. Once I finally got out of the house and my husband asked where I wanted to run, I’d grumpily say “nowhere” or “wherever” and proceed to huff and sigh my way through a run that left me feeling unfulfilled, untrained, and unchallenged.

I realized today what was holding me back. One of the reasons I really love running, is that at the end of a long or difficult run, it strips away everything you have. You can’t have any barriers or walls anymore, because all your energy is being poured into breathing, staying upright, and continuing to move. You become completely open to all of your emotions, and by the end, it feels like you’ve managed to get some sort of control by allowing yourself to be completely broken down.

This is not my normal state. In fact, I prefer to not face emotion at all, and to pretend everything is fine. This is for a myriad of reasons and past experiences, and while I’m doing it, I think everything really is fine. I can believe my own lies.

But I’ve been dealing with a lot of emotional things lately. Starting a new job, moving, dealing with my father’s poor health. And it became easier to not deal with those emotions, and to keep them hidden. And the longer I failed to deal with them, the scarier and more menacing they seemed.

So I started to avoid running, knowing subconsciously that pushing myself to my limits would mean facing my avoidance and dealing with all the things that I didn’t want to think about. Which, hilariously, only makes everything else harder to deal with too.

I think the race  finally got me over that hurdle. I feel like running again, and feel like I can think a little better than I have been. And hopefully, next time I feel like laying on the bed rather than putting on my running shoes, I can remember that there are a lot of really good reasons that I should be open to the experience.

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