on gratitude {another running post}

one of the coaches for the training program i’m doing said something the other day to our group about doing a “gratitude check” during particularly challenging runs. it’s corny, but most people i know who run say that running is a great way to sort out the mental debris we often carry with us. and doing a gratitude check can be helpful when there’s a lot of debris and it’s hard to see the good things. or, if you’re on a run where everything hurts and home is far away and you just stepped in a puddle and UGH, it’s good to do a reminder about what on this run is good.

my run this morning was in the lull before thunderstorms hit.  i felt a tightness in one ankle, my calves were on fire, and after stepping into a deceptively small puddle and soaking one foot, i turned down the wrong road and had to do this super awkward little turn-around when i realized i was running into a parking lot and not a shortcut to the road i wanted to be on. graceful! and mentally, i was sorting through the things i need to do to wrap up my semester, get ready to move, and pay the surprise bills from a doctors’ visit that lasted all of 20 minutes and yet is costing me a lot. whee.

but after i stepped in that puddle, my brain was like HOLD THE PHONE, I QUIT THIS THING. and so i did my gratitude check then. and it helped. (walking briefly also helped, after scolding myself that it was totally okay to walk). here’s what i had on my list: i am grateful that i didn’t run in a thunderstorm. that i am about to hit the 2-mile point on this run. that i keep improving my pace every week. that i’ve stuck with this program and am seeing/feeling results. that i can tell why my ankle hurts, and know what to do next time to prevent it.

i did have this moment of serious self-doubt – can i make it to a half-marathon? and then i laughed at myself, because, dude. i’m only on week 5. of a 24-week program. my intervals just changed a bit and my body is adjusting to the new plan. and i’m running for a longer span of time for the two runs on weekdays. i’m not supposed to feel like i can run over 13 miles yet. i ran a little over 2 miles. that’s cool. that’s where i am now. i’ll get to 13.1 later. chill.

and i dunno. there are people who cannot run. or bike. or other forms of exercise (sorry, i am drawing a blank on other things right now). so i’m deeply grateful that i am healthy enough to devote this time to myself. and i know that it will help me in the long run to be healthier, to be stronger.

also it helps that my mom told me that my legs were looking more muscular. YES. BAM. I’M AWESOME.

so. that’s just how the running/brain thing works for me. clear the mental debris, occasionally panic that i’m failing, then scold myself for being silly and list the things that are full of light in that moment. even when it’s hard to do (seriously cannot stress enough how much a wet running shoe is the worst), find the light.