“What’s next?”

“”What’s next?”” is a question I’ve been asked a lot since Boston as it pertains to upcoming races and competitive goals. Truth is, I am running just enough to keep myself fit. As I run with my usual group I realize how far behind I am. The willingness to endure the pain of hard running has reduced just like my endurance. I’m not sure if it is just my head, but I am running like a new swimmer who has been thrown off the edge of the pool straight into the deep end.

Don’t get me wrong; I love to race. The competitive side of the sport is what got the most out of me, made me the person I am today and as I ran, over time, was the reason I kept running. Running has helped me shape my identity. Helped me cope. Helped me escape. The training has helped me step out of my comfort zone. You believe that you can do it and you actually can (or at least try). A few days ago, when I decided, or perhaps, more accurately, realized, that I didn’t necessarily need to have a competition on my calendar as the impetus to lace up my shoes every day.

Running is the stitching that has held my life together. Not just day-to-day but year to year, life stage to

life stage. All these years, in my shoes, I worked hard. The work was painfully incremental. Each day got me closer to freedom. Until one day I broke through.

The reasons why I run have evolved over the years, but these days, putting on my shoes and getting out the door might be the only hour or 30 minutes that I can get away from the business of everyday life, when my mind is empty, that quiet time which allows for introspection. It is my time. It doesn’t matter if I’m holding on for dear life at the end of a tough track workout or trotting along at a pace that more closely resembles walking-the simple process of putting one foot in front of the other brings me unparalleled joy.

It is the person I am. This is what I do. I am a Runner.

So, what’s next?

I’ll figure it out as I go. 🙂

A clear calendar lends itself to endless possibilities.

 

 

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