Every time we run, she kindly says, “Make sure you let me know if we need to slow down.” I appreciate that so much, but I remember when I used to torture myself if someone said that. I’d start on a long people pleasing rant. “Don’t let me slow you down. Go on ahead if you want. I don’t want to ruin your run. Don’t worry about me, I’m fine.” I don’t matter, I don’t matter, I don’t matter.
Thankfully I’ve learned a few things. One of them is I know I matter to Kim, and she would not run with me if a fast pace was her goal. She wants to run with me. That gives me peace, and quiets the people pleasing fear in me. Slow is OK today. I keep that in mind as we head north on the bike path that is connected to the studio parking lot.
We had a ton of rain last week, and it was shocking to me that the path underneath Schrock Road that runs along Alum Creek wasn’t flooded, because it sure was flooded the previous week. It was a bit muddy still, so we carefully trudged through it and found our rhythm. The first mile or so is always hard for me, as I ask my lungs and my legs and my joints to wake up and get moving. They respond just a little slower than they used to.
We started talking about heart rate and how the run with MIT had gone the previous Saturday, when suddenly we encountered a gate across the trail. Trail Closed. Looks like the flooding happened up this way, instead of back where I expected it. So much for running in this direction! I guess we’ll head south instead.
We turned around and retraced our steps until we were back through the mud and then passing the studio. Whenever I walk or run, it is hard for me to pass the car. There is part of me that wants to be done and would rather go home and eat breakfast than keep going. I mean, the trail was blocked. We have the perfect excuse to call it. It was a nice try but it just wasn’t in the stars for us to run today. But my coach says, “Let’s go.”
I would not call myself a morning person. But these mornings out on the trail, with the blue herons and the deer, the hawks and the rabbits, are pretty amazing. We find our rhythm again and wind through the trees along the water. I pull the humid air into my lungs as Kim chats effortlessly. Little thoughts like, “Someday you’ll get there. It will come back”, flicker across my mind. I respond back with, “Someday is today. I am doing it”, replacing criticism and judgment with the truth. It is a moment by moment practice. Every time a shoe hits pavement: I am good enough. I am good enough. I am good enough.
Just as we round the bend, we encounter another part of the trail flooded. Right in the middle of the trail, floating on a temporary lake plunked right on the path, are three oblivious ducks. There’s no gate, but there’s no going through this much water. We pause for a moment.
Isn’t this life? Just as we are sailing smoothly, along comes a lake with three ducks blocking the path. This is the moment. It certainly is a valid excuse for quitting if I’ve ever heard one, right? I mean, there are ducks in the path for crying out loud.
But you know what? I can’t move the ducks and I can’t move the water. I can’t build a bridge and I can’t run through it. Railing at it all doesn’t change my life one bit. It doesn’t change my health. It doesn’t change my fitness. It doesn’t change my body. It doesn’t empower me. It doesn’t make me stronger. All railing at it does is keep me stuck.
So we turn around and we keep going.
Thanks to our zig zagging, we got to pass the studio and my car yet again before coming to the end of our workout. Oh, did it feel great to hear those works coming from Kim, “We’re done!” Halleluiah! As I drank my water and caught my breath, I thought about how the fitness journey zig zags. It is not a straight line. It is a winding, crooked, back and forth path that is muddy in places and incredibly beautiful in others. The gates that say Trail Closed are part of the journey. The blue heron and the deer and the hawks and the rabbits are part of it, too. Even ducks on the trail are part of the fitness journey, and we really begin to grow and heal when we stop railing against these obstacles being there, and learn to accept the gifts that they really are.