This weekend, my community is hosting its first ever full distance IronMan triathlon. Athletes swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run 26.2 miles. As I sit here on the couch in my PJs writing about it, I can’t imagine pushing my body that hard for no real reason other than the enjoyment of it. But when I’m around the athletes, I think how cool it would be to be able to push my body that hard for no real reason other than the enjoyment of it.
There was a time in my life that I was able to push my body pretty hard. In high school, I ran track; quarter mile, 4×100 and 4×400. I loved running so much. It satisfied my competitive nature and allowed get away from all of the stress in my life. There is nothing like the sound of your feet hitting the asphalt in concert with your breath to get you focused with laser like precision. There’s no room for self-doubt. There’s no room for regret. Sadness and depression get replaced by determination and a strange brand of euphoria. It doesn’t matter if your parents are getting divorced or the guy that you like doesn’t like you back. All that matters is the mesmerizing sound of your feet hitting the asphalt and crossing the finish line.
The last time I tried to run was a huge disappointment. That’s when I found out that I had developed osteoarthritis in my left knee. The enjoyment of running didn’t outweigh the pain and damage to my knee, so I gave up. “Gave up”….that’s what it felt like, but I know it was a calculated, intelligent decision. It still feels like I gave up even though I know that’s not what I did. I can’t seem to shake the feeling.
You’re being lazy. You don’t want it bad enough. Stop whining and push through the pain. Just do it. Look at that woman. She weighs almost 300 pounds and she just finished a TRIATHLON! Certainly you can get your butt in gear and run a 5k! What’s your problem? Why are you giving up so easily? I thought you were stronger than this.
It’s a loud nagging voice that drowns out my common sense.
Girl, you dun lost your mind! Running? Again?! Girl, please! Don’t you want your knees to last you a lifetime? I mean, if you want to get an artificial knee before you hit 50, then by all means, go out there and run. Enjoy the feeling of all those aches and pains. Don’t come cryin’ to me when you can’t make it up and down the steps anymore. And you know it’s not just your knees. It would be horrible if just because you felt the need to push yourself that you also accelerated the damage to your hips. That 300 pound woman is probably in better physical shape than you are. Don’t compare your life to hers. You don’t know her story and you’re not traveling her journey. Stay in your lane! You do remember how you used to feel after a race, don’t you? You’re 25 years older now plus you have a list of diagnoses that you didn’t have back then. How do you think you’ll feel now? It’s just not worth it. Find another way to push yourself ‘cuz this running thing don’t make no kind of sense for you whatsoever. I thought you were smarter than this, girl.
I’m sure I’ll continue to listen to the voice of common sense, yet be tempted by That Other Voice That Shall Not Be Named. I’m thankful I know which voice to listen to and I wish it was loud enough to kill off that other voice.