#78 Running is LIFE.

I opened my MapMyRun account yesterday, and it occured to me that sadly I had only been on five runs since my half-marathon in April.  FIVE.  That is basically one run a month.  I know the weather has been hot/rainy/whatever, but it was no wonder why I felt so pent up and anxious.  I needed my therapy.  Last night seemed fitting for a run too; it was my mom’s birthday, and I always feel closer to her when I am out on a run.

I used to be a crier.  I used to be able to let my emotions out without a care or concern.  Ever since my mom died, there have only been a handful of times that I can remember that I shed a tear.  Instead of allowing myself to feel these at times overwhelming emotions, I find myself shoving these emotions deep down.  I am very aware of the process and what I am doing, but somehow I am no longer able to stop it from happening.

After following the loss of my mom, I wanted to be there for my son, who was only 22 months old at the time. I had spent the last several months of her life being there for her and taking care of her, and I was ready to dive in and become Will’s mom again with no distractions. The guilt I felt over losing some of those months with him ate me up inside, and I was determined to be by his side again. Without realizing what I was doing, I was already putting my emotional turmoil on hold so that I could focus on being a parent.

Now these emotions rear their ugly head at the worst of times and re-emerge as anxiety. I was never an anxious person until I started grieving. The fear of losing control of my emotions, especially in front of my kids, is unsettling to me and causes me to have panic attacks. This is why running is so important to me, more than it ever was before: running allows me space to be alone in my thoughts. Many times when I am out for a run, I am able to clear my head. My mind wanders, and I find myself thinking about my mom. Many times it allows me to cry, and man it feels good. I am that crazy person on the side of the road, bawling my eyes out as I run, and I could not care less. It brings me joy and relief to be able to deal with my innermost thoughts and grief.

The best thing about running is that it is a true test of your inner strength.  There is no equipment to help move you forward; it is up to you how far you go.  You have to continue to push yourself to keep your legs pumping, to control your breath, and to maintain your form.  It takes concentration, while simultaneously allowing your mind to escape.  There is something cathartic about your feet hitting the pavement.  I absolutely love the feeling, and that feeling is what keeps me going. It is what keeps me putting my tennis shoes back on and getting back out there. When I am running, I am free.

My legs may have felt tired and a little weak at the end of this run, but emotionally I felt great.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9