“Mind over matter,” Sophie repeated. It was still in the first week of training for our half marathon that’s coming up next week. It certainly didn’t feel like mind over matter. It felt like my heart was more than a little upset that it had to do more than usual and my legs were feigning ignorance. “What is this running you speak of?”, they seemed to ask. My running buddies were encouraging and supportive but that wasn’t enough to make up for my serious lack of running over the previous 3 months. They had been running – a lot – and I couldn’t take it. But I couldn’t quit. I signed up for the half, there was no way I could back out now. I would just walk/run. This long distance stuff was shaking my pride. I’m a good sprinter, I’m a good 1-miler. But 5 was killing me, and so was being beat by my running buddies. So I started running by myself, like I used to do – before Spain, before training. Granted, in the past I ran because I’m like a border collie and I have to get some energy out everyday, and because it helped me pray and think through the muck and joy of life. Now, those things were still happening, I just had to do them longer. In this lonesome manner, I continued my run/walks, adding distance every weekend. Then came an 8 miler. I’ve never run 8 miles. I’ve hiked over 10 in a day. I walk everywhere everyday because I live in Europe, but I’ve never run 8. “It’s ok,” I consoled myself, “walk if you have to. Runner’sWorld says it’s ok. Better than injuring yourself…”. The sense of dread was greater than any previous run. The looming exhaustion and duration had me bad tempered and sighing. So I started with a shuffle. One foot in front of the other. Repeat. In the cold and the fear I managed a jog. My audiobook is a wonderful work of non-fiction, and I found the heavy themes and steady rhythm sink down to my toes. I found a peaceful pace beyond my original shuffling. Around mile 2, something unenergetic but sure said, “I’m not stopping”. And I didn’t. I didn’t want to walk, I didn’t want to stop. I just wanted to keep jogging along like Forrest Gump.
Was it “mind over matter”? Was it my training the previous month-the build? Was it my slow start? My sister-in-law is always gently reminding me to pace myself in my runs. Did it finally happen? I don’t know. I changed the title of this post. It started out “Learning to Run Long Distance”, but I changed it to “Go Long” because when I hit mile 2 and realized I wasn’t going to stop it didn’t feel like learning. It felt like the breeze that catches your kite to make it soar. It felt like I finally found the light switch in the dark room. I’m still learning to push myself. I still look gloomily at the cold and rainy outside when it’s time for my run, but as I put one foot in front of the other no dread accompanies me. It falls off with my pounding feet.