Today, I awoke to discover that there was absolutely nothing that I had to do today. Don’t get me wrong, as I had, and still have, plenty to do, thanks to a never-ending list that reminds me that there is always something that needs to be done. Always. But I had no scheduled commitments to honor, so, I had complete control over my day.
As I thought of everything I could and should do, one thought kept pushing itself to the top of my list. Trail running. Not just any trail run, but a long trail run. Recently, I resumed trail running, after completing treatment for breast cancer, but I had yet to do a long trail run. Physically, there was no reason I could not do such a run, but leave it to my mind to find a limitless supply of reasons to keep my trail running to a minimum. Today, I got out of my head and out of my own way, and I hit the trails for a long run, at long last.
As I took off on the longer trail, my head kept telling me that I could take a shortcut and run a shorter distance, but my heart told me otherwise. I kept running and running and running, and I immediately experienced feelings that I usually chase off of the trail. Joy. Peace. Contentment. It was a moment of pure bliss amidst the canopy of trees on those muddy trails, and I felt profoundly grateful to be there.
As I ran, a number of runners approached me from the opposite direction. Their numbered bibs indicated that they were participating in a race of some sort. As the various trail runners would pass by me, we would exchange greetings, and many of them called out words of encouragement to me. Great job! Keep running! Looking good! With each greeting, I felt a bit unworthy, as they were the ones running a race, while I was just running. I generally run by myself with my music and my thoughts, which are more than enough company for me, so, it was a bit odd to encounter so much foot traffic.
As much as I appreciated the kind words of my fellow trail runners, I enjoyed the solitude along the trails most of all. They had their race to run, and I had my own. I alternately engaged in a stream of consciousness that allowed whatever popped into my heart and mind to flow freely and lost myself in whatever artist was serenading me through my headphones. At times, I engaged in my version of prayer, which is really just a conversation with God, or at least, who or what I refer to as God. It is somewhat humorous that I find so much solace when I trail run, because I equate roughing it and camping with staying at a hotel that does not have room service or a concierge. A happy camper, I am not.
No matter how many times I run those trails, the experience is never the same, but the one common denominator is how I feel when my run comes to end. As I reached the finishing point, I found myself overcome with emotions. I was proud of myself for completing such a hard run, that left me covered in mud, sweat, and tears, after doubting that I could do it, again. I was elated from a trail runner’s high. I was happy to simply be alive and well. As I broke down in tears, I felt healed and whole once again.
I have long maintained that if I could trail run every day, I would be the happiest person in the world. Since this is not realistic, at least not right now, I will look for ways to incorporate some of the elements of trail running in my daily life. I have been going for walks by myself and with my daughters nearly every day for the last month, and even though it is not the same as trail running, it helps to keep me grounded. At the same time, it helps keep me moving forward, as I have many more trails to blaze.
Just one thing each day . . .
Categories: Just One Thing Each Day