“The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
You might as well call it the dreadmill, because I hate running on the treadmill. Texas in the summer though, particularly this summer, necessitates the occasional treadmill run. Most mornings I wake early enough to allow time to get outside before the heat suffocates resolve. Running outdoors in the summer is a study in perseverance; gone is the thrill of just being while running. My body can be coaxed to do the same work. The same prayers are uttered. The same miles yield beneath my feet. All that sameness costs in the summer. The efforts are harder, and the payoff most days feels like checking a block. If I find joy in running in the summer it’s in knowing that fall and winter and spring come next. It’s anticipation.
Still, the heat and scorched skin and guzzled water bottles and general misery are much preferred to the indoor run. I love to run, because I love to be outside. It frees me. It fills me. It reminds me that the world is bigger than me and my story. I connect with God. I hear him best when I run, and boy, do I need to hear him. The treadmill takes those things away. I hamster wheeled out a workout today, because my body requires it. I sleep poorly without some physical activity. Hours spent at a desk produce antsy limbs created for use. I ran in the gym at the apartment mid-afternoon. Poor sleep coupled with an early morning photo session closed the window of time designated for my morning run. I thought about skipping, but training picks up in the fall. Discipline about scheduled running days helps prepare for increased mileage and the accompanying busyness the extra minutes then hours logged produce. I run on running days.
And honestly, today’s run sucked. I ran thirty meager minutes at about the same pace as I do when I run outdoors this time of year- s l o w. It sucked, but I did it. I finished. The work got done; the miles got covered. It wasn’t a glamorous run. It wasn’t fast. It wasn’t far. But my body did what needed to be done, and some days that’s all you can ask of a person: that they do what needs to be done.
Striving for excellence is noteworthy. Great feats ought to be celebrated. Champions are cheered for accomplishing something amazing. That said, the hardest work and biggest efforts aren’t always race day PRs or big wins that get noticed. Sometimes the most is given in the nuanced choices to put one foot in front of the other on the days when anything else seems more appealing. Today I did the work. Today I finished. I did what needed to be done, and it was enough. That’s what I learn and relearn on the treadmill.
Not the most stunning anecdote, but what I’ve got for tonight.