That's a mantra I used to repeat to myself on my really long runs, usually 10 miles and up. Yesterday I was having to tell myself that on my 6-miler which is my current "long run". I've been a runner since jr. high, but I've recently been in a slump.
When I was in 9th grade, it was easy to find motivation to run. Getting out of my crazy house for some stress relief was reason #1. My parents lived really close the MKT trail (also known as the Katy Trail), so I would either run a few miles or bike to the next town and back. 10th grade I had a really cute boyfriend who only lived 4 miles away, so I would run to his house and sometimes if I wasn't up for the run home, he would drive me back. The duration of high school I ran cross country to keep in shape for soccer because I was a midfielder and we did a heckuva lot of running. There was a trailhead that was unknown to most that I would go to on my own just to run in the empty fields and by the creeks that wound throughout. Getting away from everything was my main goal and I loved that I was all by myself. I would go there in college too, but by then other people had discovered it. Jeff & I would go there a lot. He knew that if I was having a rough day, that's where I would be and he would come and find me out there sometimes. We had some of our best talks there. It was where he would propose to me years later. He knew it was a really special place for me. I haven't found somewhere here that brings me as much peace as that place.
I kept running in college. Still for stress relief, but mostly because that's what I did. It's who I was. I didn't feel right unless I had been running. I wasn't an every day runner, but I had my routines; my set days. I would go to my old high school to do speedwork/run bleachers and would run into my old coach sometimes. I think he was happy that I was still running but probably a little disappointed because it looked to him like I was more dedicated than I was while I was on his team. :) Jeff & I started to run together while we were in school and that's something I really miss doing with him. I know a lot of people who run with their kids in a jogging stroller, but M's capacity was about 2-3 miles and then she had a full meltdown. It doesn't do much for stress-relief to push a screaming kid while trying to run.
When we moved to Rockford for Jeff's job, we joined a running club called Road Crew. I loved it and I really miss it. It's another reason I love my M.O.THE.R running group so much. I had never run over 8 miles at this point and that was just in XC practice. We did hill work, speed work, tempo runs, etc. and became better runners. I was pretty good in my age bracket in local races and the Road Runners club I joined. I still have my 5K, 10K, 1/2, and full PR's from then in my head. Jeff & I trained for and ran the Chicago Marathon together. Then we moved back to St. Louis 2 weeks after that. We kept running, did another half marathon, but it wasn't the same without our group. And then I had M a year and a half later. While pregnant, I walked EVERY DAY with my friend Melinda. In rain, in snow, in negative temps. So I was in pretty good shape when she was born, but afterwards....running with a chest full of breastmilk HURTS. I did not envy my friends who had to deal with cup sizes bigger than a C their entire lives. I could see why many of them had breast reduction surgery. But I got through it and returned to normal size. I kept running but was not one of those women who gets better after having babies. We used to run in Rockford with a lady who would win races mere weeks after having a kid. We saw her name in Runner's World a few years back for winning the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. And she has 4 kids. How do they do it?! Natural talent and lots of babysitters.
When I got pregnant with JJ, I was busy chasing around M, but didn't get my running in. And I had to go to physical therapy for a twisted SI joint, so working out wasn't tops on priority list. So when JJ was a few months old and I thought I would just click out an easy 3-miles, my body said hell no. Many ortho visits ensued and the message was clear that my body wasn't what it used to be.
I finally started to get back into it and was doing pretty well when I was really hurt by someone I thought was my friend. I thought that I would turn to running again to deal with my stress and sadness, but the mind/body connection is a funny thing. The person that had hurt me had once told me that she starting running because she was inspired by me. Yeah, in a Single White Female sort of way. So I think I subconsciously chose to not be anything like that person. To not obsess over running, to not place my value in my physical appearance. I didn't want to find my identity in running, and I think I also wanted to punish myself by not taking care of my body. I would listen to the negative tape of messages in my head that told me I would never be the same. That was 2 years ago and I am still recovering. But now I am surrounded by amazing women who are real friends and who love me well. I have a great running group again. And I am getting my confidence back, running and otherwise, from that emotional blow.
I went for a long run yesterday. In the rain - one of my old favorites. When my mind started messing with me, I focused on "one foot in front of the other" and "running is just hard" - another mantra from years before. And the thought of a warm shower when I got home. And I made it - with no breaks. And I didn't let the negative voice compare the me now to the me then. 6 miles was a great accomplishment yesterday - I don't care if I used to do 10 miles every Sunday back when we were in Rockford. That was over 8 years ago. This is my new long run. And I want to erase those old PR's from my head so I don't compare, but only celebrate my new accomplishments. Next Saturday I'm doing 8 with two dear friends that are such an encouragement to me. After a long drought, I feel hope. For the first time in quite a long time, I feel like a runner again.