ALL or NOTHING
I was invited to a business meeting, well, it was the tail end of a previous meeting that I got tacked on to. That's another story altogether. In this meeting the group was discussing how to pay honour to a man that struggled with mental health and how to support the family that he had left behind. There was a regular marathoner, a marathon coach, a man that had taken up running in his 50s, a sportscaster and me. When the marathon coach got up from the table to grab some grub the remaining people asked me if I run. "I used to run".
You would think that I was drowning a kitten the way they all looked at me.
"You USED to run."
I think they all wanted me to go get checked out instantly. "Yeah, I used to run, I kind of got tired of it". Again, their faces looked as though I said I hate children or something equally heinous. I chose to leave it there. No need to explain everything and the unravelling of my love affair with running. But they are not you, so I will tell you.
I ran for fun, and to get outside. I really enjoy being outside. But for some reason I used to think it wasn't ok to just be outside. I had to have a purpose and a destination, thus running seemed normal. Truthfully, running was almost always hard for me. It was a struggle to go, and it was a struggle during, then it was a struggle to recover. I don't know if I ever did it properly, maybe I should have hired the aforementioned coach.
Somewhere in this long season of running I thought it was a good idea to run a half marathon. If you know me, you know that I believe that absolutely anyone can run a half marathon. If you train for it, if you have a mild interest in it, you can do it. A full marathon is for the very few, that is a triumph of will power more than anything, and a bout of insanity. Don't even ask about ultra marathoners, I worry about those people*.
*I am being facetious
Anyway, I thought a half marathon would be a great idea. I did it and cried a little as I crossed the finish line. If you ever feel like a good, emotional, human-spirit, inspiring cry, go hang out at the finish line of a marathon. It is powerful. I wasn't sure that my small frame would actually carry me 13 miles, but it did. And I know that there are people who, for them, that distance is a nice short Sunday run.
After that, I thought, well, I've done it. It was a lot, and it hurt in a lot of places afterward. I ran a few more 10k races and still enjoyed running. But it was taking a lot to get the high and I was finding that it wasn't helping me to keep weight off. I walked a ton when I lived out of province and came home and ran a 11 kilometre 10k race with some friends. I did it to be with my friends and (mostly) for the pierogis we got at the end. It was soon after the race that I stopped.
This was a shock to so many people because I was such a firm believer in the cult of running. All the beauty you got to see, the alone time, the processing you could do on a run, the no thinking that might occur when your body turned from aching and pulsating to machine hitting its stride. If you've never run you won't get any of this. If you've run, you know that that moment is the goal: lungs, heart, legs, arms, you don't feel anything except movement, you are both completely at home with your body and completely detached as it feels like it is doing what it was designed to do - without a single thought. And I had brought many into the cult of running. I was the grand Poobah of all things running.
All or nothing.
It became nothing. What was once such a core part of my identity was meh and not really that interesting anymore.
And I do this with so many things. It's my sole focus, or in the pile with many other fads that have come and gone in my life. Yoga, yogurt, Yogi Bear (just kidding on that last one, I was going for alliteration). Coffee, no coffee, green tea, coffee and no green tea.
I was out walking my dog the other day and had an overwhelming urge to run. She loves to go fast on the leash, she'll bark and bark and get excited and push her stubby little legs harder and harder in the quest for speed. I jogged a little bit, but was worried that I would train her into running (she picks up habits easily) so I slowed. I also worried that I would have to get back into running and all the gear, the schedules, the work up to it. All. Or Nothing. I chose nothing that day because I was scared that it would become my all.
Living in extremes wears on you. But it's part of our idiot brains that makes us do these things. We like putting people into nice little files. This is the guy that knows how to fix things, this woman is my go to for techie questions, that person is all about trees. Whatever. And we do it to ourselves. We say: I will be a runner. I will be a coffee connoisseur. I will be known for this. But we are more than just this one thing. Some of everything and bits of anything. We are many things, and we enjoy many things. Be parts of all, and choose when you want nothing, knowing you can pick it back up whenever you want.