It is with keen anticipation I get ready for a three mile run. As I lace and tighten my shoes and stretch my legs, I am happy. I have been running for over twenty years and have learned a lot about long runs. Okay, three miles might not be a marathon, but it is long enough for me.
I feel fresh and ready at the beginning of every run. One of the hardest things to do is to set a steady pace that is not too fast, so I don’t tire myself out too quickly. That means I have to pay close attention to what I am doing until I hit my stride. I love to run in new places and to look around at the scenery as I go by. I have found a pace that allows me keep a steady jog, but not race through so quickly I don’t have time to notice the beautiful life around me. Once in awhile, there is an exceptionally gorgeous vista or unexpected meadow or a majestic stand of trees which causes me to stop and drink in its glory - and the rest is welcome and refreshing - but I always have to get going again.
One thing I have learned from running steadily for so many years, is how important it is to keep moving forward and to focus on where I am at at that particular moment. It is okay to look a little bit ahead, but I never want to see too far, or I might get discouraged. Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of a particularly high hill or challenging terrain - and I can be intimidated to know it is coming. It is better to encounter those obstacles one at a time, and deal with them as they come than to try to keep moving forward with dread in my heart.
So, I only look a little ahead, just to be sure I am somewhat prepared and don’t trip and fall. I have fallen a few times - and sometimes I get really angry, and sometimes I get really upset. The problem with getting carried away with my emotions is it can really disrupt my run, and as long as I am not too damaged, I need to get going again as soon as I can.
I also find I like to look back occasionally to see how far I have come. I have to be careful, though, not to get caught up in looking back, because I might find myself stuck in one beautiful spot on the trail, and it can become harder and harder to leave, especially if it is a restful, peaceful, place. I can keep the beauty of the moment in my memory to treasure, but I can’t go back; I have to keep moving forward. I have also found if I look back too much, I can stumble and fall - just as when I am not careful as I go - but those falls that happen when I look back too much can bring everything to a standstill for a long time. They hurt, and it can be difficult to recover from them. I do, though. I eventually pick myself up and continue moving forward.
When I finally reach the end of a three mile run, I usually feel a sense of accomplishment. The trail might have been rugged, or it might have been smooth; either way, I am happy for the journey. I feel healthier and stronger when a successful run is completed. I accomplished what I set out to do - and am invigorated and ready for the next challenge.
When I think about it - running is very much like life, isn’t it?