If you’ve ever achieved something people told you that you couldn’t do; if you’ve ever had the strength to just give it all away, if you’ve ever said “I quit” while doing something you love only to find yourself working stronger towards your goals…then you’ll understand this post. Lately I’ve read or been told a lot of things about people who cried after a major athletic achievement, or living vicariously through the writings of someone who’s just completed something they were told they couldn’t do. It’s made me think about a few things, and how sports relate so closely to emotion, and how they are a cure for a broken spirit.
A couple years ago before I met my coach, I was running a lot of longer distance events. I can’t remember how many half marathons I ran that year on top of the full distance events, I believe it was 5 or so, but what I do remember is running one of them with my mother. Now I wasn’t with her the whole race, our pacing being quite different, but I was with her right until the starting gun went off, and I was there when she crossed the finish line, sweatless streaks running the length of her face from the tears she had loosed when she realized, “I’m going to actually do this.” I remember being told, and reminded recently, that my grandmother cried while reading my post about the event because she could feel my passion and how proud I was of my mother. She didn’t run the race herself, but she experienced the same emotions my mother had that race morning.
Recently, a Team Rev3 teammate and an endurance couple powerhouse couple I have the grace of calling my friends, completed the double iron distance event in Florida. Before you Google it, it’s a 281.2 mile event. And yes, you read that right. Kacie, Dani, and Jason all did fantastic, and while I don’t believe Jason cried during or after this event or after ULTRAMAN (421.8 miles) not too long ago, I’m sure he felt the same emotions that led to Kacie and Dani crying as they crossed the line. None of them cried because they were in pain, and while a small reason could have been imbalances from the amount of work they just put in, the vast majority was the sense of accomplishment and the freedom that the event brought. Dani has the reason to feel this way because she’s got an exceptional story that includes doctors telling her she wouldn’t even run after being hit by a truck. And Kacie, well I know she just never thought she’d ever be able to do something like as double iron. They gave up during those events, and I don’t mean they quit, I mean that during the time they were out there, absolutely nothing else mattered. They ‘gave up’ caring about anything else; no job stress, so bills, nothing but the sound of cheers from the spectators and their own heartbeat.
I read a tweet earlier from MMinHI that inspired this post. She posted that she needed a run, then the next tweet just half an hour later revealed that she’d cried…but that now it was out of her system and she was over it. I don’t know what ‘it’ was, but I completely understand where she’s coming from. I have another friend, who I’ll let stay nameless, who recently had a pretty major health issue. Its remedy removed sports from their life, but I remember the first time they got back after it and ran. They didn’t say they cried per say, but they conveyed the emotional state that they had. I’ve had runs before that I didn’t want to go on because my brain was just spinning and short-circuiting from all the things I had on my plate on that time, but 10 minutes into that run I felt myself well up, the world around me quiet, and everything melt off me because in that moment, all that mattered was that next step away from all my stress, and towards my Eden.
I don’t have a therapist anymore, not for about a year, and it’s pretty much because of sport. I’m not the only one who’s turned this into an addiction of sorts because it really does keep me sane and level. I can work out my problems in my mind with every slap of my sole against the pavement, with every pedal stroke that stresses my bike’s gears, and every time my body is surrounded by water as I dive into the pool. I didn’t write this for people to read and congratulate me on graduating from seeing a shrink, a lot of you would probably say I need to go back, but I did write this to ask you a question. With all the stress and stimulation that goes on every second of every day in our lives, why are you spending money on vices or just letting them fester inside when you could go out for a run.
I’m going to ask you to do me a flavor now, and I have no way of making you do this or checking up on you, but I’m going to ask anyway. Don’t sit down and fret, but to go outside the next time you’re sure the world’s whole weight is on your back like a modern day Atlas. Lace up your shoes or hop on the bike that’s become a dust colony in the garage, and just go. It doesn’t have to be long, but let it become a journey towards your own oasis, and let each beat of your heart flush away the worries, letting you evolve into a new person.