The road is calling
It had been a while. A busy September turned into a cold October, and before I knew it the daylight was gone by the time I got home from work. I never liked running in the dark, but more than that, I didn't want to admit to myself that I probably couldn't go as far or as fast as I had only a few weeks before.
Instead I rejoined the gym, but let's be honest, treadmills don't always cut it. After weeks of resistance, I knew the road was calling.
So tonight I dug my headphones out of a bag, laced up, took a deep breath, and stepped into the night air. It was bracing and I had to walk briskly to warm up. As I rounded the corner and broke into a jog, I couldn't suppress a smile at the feeling I was coming home to an old friend.
Settling into a rhythm on the first long stretch of road, I wondered how it had come about that something I had once been so afraid of had become something I loved. I felt the strength in my legs, marvelled at the capable way they carried me and the surety with which each foot found the ground, as if to run was second nature.
One of my worst recurring dreams is that I need to get somewhere quickly but cannot run. Dozens, maybe hundreds of times I've woken from it in a state of panic because my mind was telling my body to run but my body wasn't able. In these dreams I flounder, as if in slow motion, and whatever I'm trying to run to never materialises, or whatever I'm running from catches up with me.
But not so in real life. After years of thinking, being told or telling myself that I couldn't, that I was no good, it turns out I can. And when the road is calling me and I head out, it truly is a friend.
That friend can be a difficult one. It exposes weaknesses of body and of mind; it requires commitment to strengthening both. But for it to be a friend and not an enemy - that has taken years. And friends don't cause upset; they bring joy. They're not about competition or punishment; they support growth, in all its forms.
Yes, I only managed 3.5k. Yes, I had to stop and walk a few times. Yes, I got a terrible stitch. But you know what? It was worth it.