On this fourth day of my birthday month, I received a most unexpected and welcomed gift in the form of an absolutely stunning Sunday. Under sunny, blue skies and temperatures in the 70s, I went for a long trail run this morning. As I have written about in previous posts, trail running is much more than a fantastic workout for me, as it is therapeutic and spiritual in many ways. It never ceases to amaze me the lessons and insights that the trails present to me, and today was no exception.
As I hit the trails, a mountain biker sped toward me and hollered to the cyclist trailing him, “Runner!” As soon as the words left his mouth, I paused to look behind me to make sure that the runner in question did not need to pass me, but there was no-one else on the trail. It was at that moment that I realized that he had been referring to me. With that realization, I smiled big time. While I have run on and off for the past 14 or so years, I never have considered myself to be a runner, which is why his label threw me for a loop this morning.
When I think of a “runner”, I think of those amazingly fleet of feet fit people who run seven days/week, track their splits and personal records, train religiously, and are outfitted in the latest running gear. I definitely do not fit this image, as I have not been able to train and run consistently, due to legitimate and not so legitimate reasons, and I trail run simply because I love it, splits and personal records be damned. I am simply a girl who runs, which is why that stranger’s perception of me as a “real” runner amused me, and his pronouncement has rattled around in my head ever since then.
His comment made me start to think about how others perceive me and how I, in turn, perceive myself. I am perfectly flawed, and as much I want and need to be loved and/or accepted unconditionally, I have a decidedly difficult time allowing compliments and positive perceptions that contradict my negative self-image penetrate the wall I have around my heart and mind. It is easier for me to believe the negative things that others, myself included, believe about me than it is to believe positive feedback,. However, thanks to the support of my family and dear friends and the works of such people as Joel Osteen and Wayne Dyer, I am beginning to make some long overdue progress in this area.
One of the concepts that both Pastor Osteen and Dr. Dyer espouse is that whatever follows the words “I am” is what becomes your reality and truth. What you think and speak about yourself and others impacts your actions and choices. That’s the simplified version of what I have taken away from these wise teachers, and it has only been recently that I have begun to apply what I have learned. After being christened a “runner” on the trails, I decided to try that label on for size, and I was surprised that what first seemed ill-fitting ended up feeling rather comfortable.
As I ran, I kept thinking, “I am a trail runner”, and mid-way through my run, I noticed several things. While trail running is a challenge, due to the terrain and distance, the greater challenge usually is my own inner dialogue. I may physically feel up to a challenge, like running up a steep hill, but my mind gets in the way with thoughts of, “Just walk up the hill; it is too tough for you”. Sometimes, I give up before I even begin, or I will start up the hill, only to quit mid-way, when my thoughts overrule my body. Today, though, I decided to listen to my body, not my mind, and sure enough, I ran harder and faster and faced the challenges of steep hills and rough terrain effortlessly. I am in the process of getting back into better physical shape, so, the reason for today’s awesome run can be attributed to my more positive thoughts, as opposed to physical gains.
Even though the run ended hours ago, I carry the thoughts from the run with me still. I have been thinking about the other “hills” in my personal and professional life and how I have approached them in the past and how I have the power to change my perception of myself and these challenges in the present and the future. It all begins with “I am”, and it reminds me of my personal mottos: “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”-Joan of Arc and “Though she but little, she is fierce.”-William Shakespeare. I am not afraid, I am fierce, and I am a trail runner.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story