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January 28, 2010 / elodie kaye

Waking Up

One morning I sat up in bed and I didn’t want to run.  I hadn’t gone running in almost a month.  I knew I wasn’t going to run that day, and probably not the  day after.  I wasn’t sick, or overtrained, or busy with work or school.  I just didn’t want to run, and I had no intention of making myself do it.

Until that morning, I ran a little out of guilt, a little out of virtue, a little out of sheer stubbornness.  Some of my runs were good, some not so good, and a few were great.  I knew how to make a good run, but persuading myself to do it had a tinge of something sour.  When I rested for more than a day, I felt vaguely afraid.  Of getting fat, or lazy, or weak.  Of the awkwardness I’d have to face to regain my fitness.  Of maybe quitting for good and never running again.  This tiny fear would grow little by little, until I ran again.

Like nearly everyone who begins to run as an adult, I ran sporadically for a few months, a season or two.  Then I’d get injured or school would start, or work would get busy, or I’d get obsessed over a boy.  I would stop running for weeks or months at a time, until the weight of self-loathing drove me to it again.  For me, running began as a sort of penance for over-indulgence in many colours.  Even though running itself was often a pleasure, the desire was heavy and baroque, decorated with all the things I should not have done, did too much of, and quests for redemption through self-improvement.

I’m still not sure what was different about that morning.  Maybe it was that I had quit and re-started a magic number of times.  Mostly I remember the sudden clarity of noticing that the sour aftertaste was missing.  I wasn’t afraid of becoming fat, or lazy, or weak.  I knew I would probably indulge again unwisely.  And I knew I loved running.  I loved the simple movement of arms and legs and air, buoyant and freed from the way it had begun.  I knew I would want that again, even if I didn’t want it at that moment.  I knew I was a runner.

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3 Comments

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  1. Keith Peters / Jan 29 2010 11:07 am

    I’m kind of amazing myself with my consistency. I think the only time I’ve skipped workouts is when I’ve been travelling. And even then I usually manage to get in some runs. I guess it’s all new and exciting to me, but I figure if I can run consistently through this winter and make it to spring, I should be pretty well hooked. But I do wonder if some morning in the future I’ll wake up and just not care about running. I know I have the ability to focus intently on one thing for a long period of time, but eventually that focus moves onto some other activity. Time will tell.

    • elodiekaye / Jan 29 2010 1:30 pm

      I’m sure there are as many different stories of recognition as there are reasons to run. One of my runner friends started running in high school and never stopped. He’s been putting in 3000+ miles every year for the last 20 years! That could be you, Keith. 😉

  2. Keith Peters / Jan 29 2010 4:18 pm

    57 miles a week? My singular quads is upset with you even mentioning that. 😉

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