Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Power of Running

I just finished my last training run in preparation for a race that I am running (I do a run/walk combination) in four days. The race is a 10k event (6.2 miles) and is the second race I am going to be competing in since I started running five and a half months ago. The first one was a 5k (3.1 miles) on New Year's and since then, I have been training for Saturday's race with my friend, Heather. My husband is also going to be running that day, albeit at a much faster pace than Heather and I.

This race is a big deal for me. Two and a half miles of it is uphill and honestly, I have never even ran 6.2 miles in my whole entire life. I have done three miles...four miles....and a one-time five miler, but never more than that. But, I have been consistent with my runs and since I am still dealing with some type of upper leg injury that has yet to be resolved, that is a major accomplishment. Actually, it is a major accomplishment that I can even run at all considering the physical obstacles I have endured and worked through over the past several years. I cannot lie though, I am a little scared. Scared of how my body is going to react to pushing it further than it is probably ready for.

I have been wondering lately how the heck I got here; what fuels me to want to do this running thing week after week. I know a big part of it is the endorphins and how good they make me feel. When I started a new job recently, I took almost a week off from running to try and manage the overwhelming fatigue I was having from going back to work after five years at home and you know what? I missed it, a lot. Running has become my primary way to deal with stress. A much healthier way than eating my way through stress.

So many other aspects of my physical self have improved over the past few months. A few nights ago, I went to scratch an itch on the back of my leg and when I touched my leg, I felt what I thought was swelling. Because of the Sjögren's, I get all types of weird things that pop up here and there and I am very in tune to any changes in my body. Well, apparently not that in tune because as I felt my leg more thoroughly, I realized what a fool I was. My leg was not swollen or messed up from autoimmune issues.... I had developed some serious MUSCLES in my legs. It still amazes me when I look at my legs. They don't look like mine at all anymore.

My cardiovascular status has improved significantly. My knees no longer hurt at all when I run and when I first started running, my knees hurt so bad, I didn't think I would be able to continue running. My asthma has remained stable and despite the fact that I am on the lowest dose of prednisone I have been on in six months, I can run/walk three miles in less than fifty minutes. Not a world record breaker by any means, but a success nonetheless.

I realized something this afternoon though. It was one of those breakthrough moments as I was driving home from our training run. I was crying in the car because of this realization. Aside from all the physical benefits that becoming a runner has given me, I have figured out the one major reason why I love running so much, despite all my constant complaints to my husband about how much I hurt sometimes:

Running makes me feel powerful.


When I run, I am not a patient. I am not an illness.

When I run, it is me and my body battling itself, and I always win. Some days more so than others. But the fact that I get off the couch and go, that is me winning.

When I run, I do not feel like the fat girl who was teased in gym class for being so slow and awkward. I feel the strength in my legs and the air racing in and out of my lungs. I am not the awkward fat girl. I am a runner.

When I run, I hear the soothing rhythm of my feet striking the ground.
The sound of power.

Running makes me feel powerful because I am doing what I was told I would never do. It is me defying the odds and refusing to let my illness or my own mind beat me. It does not matter if I am running a twenty minute mile or a thirteen minute mile, me and my body are beating the odds. It may last another week. It may last the rest of my life. But regardless of the outcome of my running life, or even this race Saturday, I have conquered.

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