Today, on Thanksgiving here in Canada, I give you the reasons I am thankful for running. This list could be miles longer, depending on the day – just as it may be a little shorter on the days when the run kicks your butt. But, even on those days, I am so glad that I got my run on this year!
This morning’s trail run, against a brilliant backdrop of Fall colours, had me thinking back to last Thanksgiving…when I was just starting to flirt with this idea of running; when I never would have considered a 12K trail run “easy”; when running 21.1K for fun would have sounded impossible, not to mention completely crazy; when I had never even heard of runDisney or something called the Princess Half-Marathon; when I was trying to reposition myself and get out of a bad place where I had lost my power and a lot of pride. Yes, a lot can change in a year. Running to the middle of nowhere and back, again and again, has taken me places I never thought I’d go. Sure, it can be hard. And no, it is not always fun. Of course, it can take a lot from you – but never more than it gives:
1. It has given me a goal and forced me to create a plan to realize that goal – the purpose, the drive, the dedication and the commitment required have been great lessons for my daughters to see (and for me to see…at times, I have even surprised myself).
2. It has given me a whole new world of shopping possibilities! Hello Lululemon, Garmin, race belts, shoes and – gasp! – costumes too. Who needs to live vicariously through her daughter playing princess dress-up? Mommy has her own tiara now!
3. It has given me toned, firm arms – who knew that running was such an upper body workout? I have always hated my arms, despite hours on the elliptical machine with wrist weights to boot. All it took was becoming a runner and suddenly, I can wear tank tops! As an added bonus, runners get to eat peanut butter, not as a treat…but as “fuel”. Yes, please!
4. It showed me what I am really made of as I ran through wind and snow, coming home with frozen eyelashes and slushy soakers. I realized how strong I can be when I was running my furthest in the sweltering humidity of the hottest summer on record. Bottom line – I am way tougher than I knew.
5. It has taught me that you can’t run away from your problems, but you can run them away over time to some degree. Spending hours alone with yourself on the road, you can run but you can’t hide from your thoughts. You have to confront the ugliest of truths – and make peace with them. You realize that you can’t change your past decisions or circumstances, but you can be stronger because of them.
6. It has reminded me that competition is a healthy thing – when you are competing with yourself. Instead of comparing myself to others (and often feeling like the loser in that equation), I am now more interested in trying to beat my own personal bests. This is a far more satisfying, and much healthier, proposition. Like most women, I have always been my own worst critic. It is harder to be your own champion. But it is a little easier when you have fought for a run and have the sweaty workout wear to prove it!
7. It is ok to celebrate your successes! As women, aren’t we often made to feel that talking about ourselves, especially our successes, is unattractive? Aren’t we just self-deprecating to a fault? Well, darn it all, the Oasis 10K at the Toronto Zoo last month was HARD, but I ran a damn good race at an impressive pace, set a new PR and placed in the top 20% of women. There, I said it. I did good and I am proud of myself.
8. It has made me think about my health, and not take for granted that I can lace up and run 20K. Not everyone can. Not everyone has the luxury of training for a half-marathon. Watching my friend battle breast cancer has reminded me that our health is not a given. Compared to what she is dealing with, a challenging race or running negative splits is a cake walk. I am lucky to be out there.
9. It has introduced me to a whole community of fantastic people with a shared love of running. People I didn’t even know a year ago, and many of whom I have never met in person, are now some of my “go to” peeps. We are from different places, we run at different paces – but we have the love of the run in common. (This includes YOU for following our Race to the Castle! Whether you are running with us or cheering for us, we are so thankful to have readers who seem to think we are entertaining and maybe even a bit helpful at times!)
10. It has resurrected and redefined one of the best friendships in my life – that with my fellow princess, Alana. For two princesses on the run, ours is an incredibly low maintenance relationship. No drama, all heart, we tell it like it is and have a blast doing it! And I think laughing until you cry is probably one of the best workouts you can find: good for the core and the spirit too. May you all find a sole sister as fabulous as mine!