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But I do it, at least sometimes, because I know it’s good for me.
And ironically, it’s taught me some things about life.
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You run differently for a 100-meter dash than you do for a 2-mile loop. A 26-mile marathon is a different skill entirely. You have to know in advance how far you’re planning to go, then pace yourself accordingly. At the Olympics, the long-distance “run-walk” stride may look slow, but you know those runners are going to last til the end. Some efforts in life are short-term and you give your utmost for a few hours, days, or weeks, knowing you can then flop down, exhausted. But if you’re going to last and continue having resources to give over the long-term, sometimes that means curbing your pace, conserving your energy.
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When I first started my running route through my neighborhood, I made it my goal to jog to the top of the hill without stopping. I made it, but then I stood at the top, bent over and gasping for breath, for at least five minutes. My lungs burned, my calves burned, and by no means did I want to run anywhere else after that. But a few weeks ago, as I started getting tired and sore halfway up the hill, I…stopped. Realized I didn’t have to achieve high marks on my imaginary goal. I listened to my pain, stopped to catch my breath, then ran on to the top feeling good and ready to continue (like pacing, rest is an element of long-term survival ). I realized that I didn’t have to wait until I was completely exhausted and feeling horrible to take a long rest. I could take a short one when I just felt tired. And then I could continue on with energy and a good attitude.
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When running, there are two possible things to think about: the pain, or everything else. I can focus my mind on my screaming calves and how hard my heart is hammering, or I can enjoy the blue sky and the quiet places my routes take me. Sometimes even my body’s exertion is a cause for thanksgiving–legs that can move, lungs that can fill with clean air, eyes that can see the beauty around me. The act gives me a rush of adrenaline, helps me find the good even in an activity I don’t love.
Have you learned any life lessons from running? From any form of exercise?