Every runner started somewhere. Usually as a walker and then a jogger and then a runner.
When we become “runners,” however, something happens. We forget where we came from and tend frown on those who are “just walking.” I’ve seen it on the multi-use trail around White Rock Lake. I’ve seen it in training groups. Heck, I’ve even heard it from the little voice inside my head.
This morning, I set out on my usual 5k route from the house. It’s hard for me to admit, but at 12 weeks postpartum, I still can’t run the whole thing. I think I could without the jogging stroller and infant car seat, but I don’t really know. The truth is: It’s hard. Much harder than I ever imagined it would be. Each day, though, I challenge myself to go two extra blocks here or an extra hill there. So, my run-walk ratio increases every week.
“Today,” I thought, “maybe I’ll be able to run even farther.”
But, today, something was different. There was a perfectly cool breeze (a nice treat given our late start). Reece fell asleep early on. Thanks to our late start, the school buses had already run, there was hardly any traffic, and the lawn services were wrapping up their rounds. About one mile in, the point at which I would ordinarily pick up the pace, I was struck with a sense of calm.
When I run, I tend to get obsessed with distance and pace. My mind is occupied by thoughts of how far I’ve been or how far I have left to go. If I’m having a rough day, I self-bargain to make it to the next landmark. If I’m having a good day, I start thinking about races or new goals.
When I walk, I soak up my surroundings. My mind is occupied by thoughts of how lovely the foliage is or how happy the birds sound. There are no good days versus bad. Just appreciation to have another day.
I didn’t dwell on how far I had left to go. And instead of noticing my usual landmarks like fire hydrants, cars or light-poles, I admired everyone’s fall landscaping and Halloween decor.
I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t want it to end. So, I didn’t run a single step today.
The calmness that struck me at mile one carried me all the way home. I watered plants, decorated a pumpkin, and wasn’t at all frazzled when Reece woke up wanting attention.
Some days a walk is exactly what a runner needs.