I am a runner. I have been running since I was a kid and we lived on a half-mile dirt road. I ran all over a five mile radius of farm land, and occasionally, I would run as fast as I could to get away from my parents. But they always caught me and dragged me home.
Then I got into high school and wanted to run track, I was too slow so they put me on discus.
Then I realized that I didn’t have to be on a team and I started running alone. I ran alone for years until my friend Alison took time to help me learn better form so I could be faster and run farther. She is an amazing marathon runner, but she took time out of her training schedule to teach me and keep me company and really help me find the beauty in running with friends.
We moved several times after that. Everywhere I went I looked for friends to run with – people who needed my help and people who could help me. It was a wonderful way to exercise.
Eventually we stayed put. And I made wonderful running friends in NC. I helped and encouraged them through babies, marital problems, death, divorce, depression – and they did the same for me.
Only we’ve been here for 7 years now and what I’m starting to hear, over and over again, feels a lot like that little girl running away.
You aren’t fast enough. We will catch you. You can’t get away.
Or that overweight teenager – You are too fat, too slow, we don’t want you. Go do something else.
And now a middle-aged mother – You are too slow. You need too much sleep. You ruin my work out and get in the way of my training program. You whine too much. Oops, sorry, we planned a bunch of stuff with out you, but you can’t do it anyway, you’re too slow.
I’m back to being on my own. It hurts. It hurts a lot. But what am I supposed to do? Whine? Apparently I’ve been doing that a lot lately. It just makes people avoid you more.
Look for new running partners? Yah, I could do that.
Or just run by myself.
I’m happy being alone. I go to the movies alone, I schedule one day a week to work on my books all alone. Why not just run alone?
Because it’s not as fun.
This weekend, two of my super amazing running friends invited me to the beach with them. We went running together twice. I pushed my fat injured self and they took pity on me.
It felt almost like the good old days.
But it’s not. I still have a long way to go before I’m over this injury and I’m super again, but I’ll never be super amazing like my friends.
We each have our talents. Mine is not running fast. I don’t even really want that talent, if I’m honest.
I want to be well rested and kind to my body and my children. I want to feel healthy, but not completely beat down. I want to feel I’ve accomplished my goals, not beat myself into the ground trying to keep up with others.
And if that makes me too slow, then I guess that’s what I am.
And that’s fine with me. But it’s lonely.
This year, when you super athletes set your goals, think about helping someone else feel super, accepted, loved, and not left behind. Think about other people’s goals and not just your own. It will make your goals that much sweeter when you reach them, knowing you helped someone else along the way. I hope I run into someone I can help as I get my butt back in gear.