A Runner’s Thanks (A Belated Thanksgiving Post)

I have read and listened to various stories about how running saved someone’s life – from obesity, from addiction, from lots of things.  I don’t feel like I can be so grand as to say that running saved my life, but it certainly has changed it dramatically.

Running has given me so very much.  It has enriched my life in ways that I never would have thought possible.  It’s such a simple thing, really, to run, and to have so much value come from it is pretty astounding.  So, I am thankful for the run.  I am thankful for the runs that exhilarate me, as well as the runs that exhaust me.  I am thankful for the runs that challenge me and the runs that feel easy; for the runs that give me new personal records (distance, speed) and the runs that feel like the same old thing.

I am thankful for runners.  I am thankful for runners that smile at me as we cross paths and for those who ignore me, intense in their own rhythm.  I am thankful for the runners at my local running stores who give me sage advice and for runners who blog so that I can learn from their wisdom, no matter how far away they may be; for runners who I see when I’m in my car because they get me excited to go out myself later in the day and for the runners that I passed and passed me in my races this year, spurring me on with healthy competition.

I am thankful for those that support my habit, even if they may not quite understand it.  To those in my life that cheer with me when I add another half a mile to my long weekend runs and to those who leave encouraging posts for me here on this blog.  I am thankful to the volunteers who helped keep my fueled during and after my first half-marathon and to the strangers along the way who lifted my spirits with encouraging shouts and signs.

I am thankful that I have discovered an activity that feeds my introverted nature and need for solitude, while still connecting me with a vast network of community and support.  I am thankful that I have reached new levels of health and fitness – places where I never imagined I could be.

And, I am thankful for myself.  For having the courage to try things I once thought were impossible and for believing that I can continue to do it – every single day.

So, fellow runners, those who support runners, volunteers, and the like, you have my utmost gratitude and respect.  Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you all!

Why Wednesdays? – Why I Run, Reason #3: Because I’m Able To

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on running

When I’m not blogging, running, cooking, or knitting, I’m working.  My regular gig is in the field of social services.  My first foray into this work was as a young intern, working on a program that helped match up socially isolated individuals living with HIV or AIDS with others for assistance and companionship. Then I worked for several incredible years as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and last year I shifted gears a bit to help provide services to elderly and disabled adults.

Photo courtesy photos-public-domain.com

I love my work for many reason, but it is hard, hard work.  I will not delve into all the reasons why I love it and why it is hard, because that could be a whole other blog, but I will focus on one thing relevant here:  my ableness.  At the risk of sounding a bit sappy, the hundreds of women and men I have worked with over the years who have had their ableness compromised (by injury, by violence, by disease, by genetics, by random freak circumstance) have definitely made an impact on me.

This can, at times, make you (okay, me) feel a bit uncomfortable, too.  Anyone who has ever taken a few minutes to recognize their privilege in light of other’s lack of privilege has surely felt some discomfort in that.  But one thing I have come to realize is that trying to hide or deny the privileges I have is not helpful to anyone.  So I try to do the opposite.  I use my privileges for the good of myself and others.  I vote.  I advocate.  I debate.  I buy local.  I donate when I can.  I boycott when needed.

And I run.

You may be wondering how running fits in to all of this, but it really, truly does.  I run because I am able to and celebrating that seems appropriate.  I celebrate it for myself and for those whom I have met over the years.

I run thoughtfully for the artist that I spent an hour with while he showed me his paintings – beautiful, emotional pieces – and told me how he used to earn a living climbing ladders, jumping around stages, and painting props until a random infection left his hip unable to support those activities any longer.

I run through the streets for the women who got up each morning to start a work-out group in the courtyard of the shelter where they lived, the one place that they felt safe and able to do so.

I run hard for the former athletes who can’t anymore and I run with joy for the elderly who reminisce about their younger days.

I run passionately for the 20 year old that I was privileged to know for two weeks before the cancer won.

I run for myself – because I can and I am able to do so at this time in my life.  I haven’t always been able to say that and I may not always be able to in the future, but while I can, you better believe that I’m celebrating it.  And I’m pretty sure that the women and men I have met over the years would cheer me on as I do.