A few days ago I ran around the Maschsee in Hanover. It felt good to be able to do this.
I only ever cheated in gym class, and for the mile run specifically; we were graded on improvement and I knew I wouldn’t be able to improve, so I intentionally ran slow at the start of the year. Back then I wasn’t aware of any allergic reaction I had to gluten; all I knew when running was that it hurt all over my body when I did it – and it did, it hurt really bad.
Fast forward some years and running just wasn’t part of my routine. I grew a bit emotional about running, worried about the physical pain, worried about the shame for not pushing through mentally when it hurt.
In due course I went through my own journey eliminating gluten from my diet and the source of my pain disappeared. Surprisingly it wasn’t just my lazy head not wanting to put in the effort. Still, even today, running revives a lot of the emotional response I built up over time. It was no longer physically as painful to run, but I got headaches thinking about it.
In January 2022 that changed, finally. I don’t know why. Wish I could say I decided to push through the pain and the effort paid off but actually some switch unbeknown to me flipped and I started building a routine. Something similar happened in April 2018 when, without any work on my part, most of the sleep issues I grew up with disappeared. It’s not like everything was magically perfect, but things did feel magically unlocked.
Over a year later and I was able to run 7 km with relative ease, at a comfortable 9:30 min/mi pace. This isn’t even my longest or fastest run, and that befuddles me. Something happened and I’m able to actually enjoy running, something I thought for a long time I’d never be able to do. I’m frankly embarrassed to admit it, because I still carry some of that baggage about running itself.
And it was a lot of effort. I did have to work through some normal pain that everyone experiences, restricted my diet, and made a point to run even when I didn’t feel like it. Maybe it’s like getting back on the field after an injury, or climbing again after an accident. I don’t know because I haven’t done those things, but it feels like maybe it’s like that.
There’s not much of a point to this post; if you’re looking for a point, maybe there’s a plea to believe people when they say something’s not right. I tried so hard for so long feeling so awful to run, and then one day I was able to, and it really had nothing to do with me. Sometimes it’s just like that I guess.
I wish I were running around the Maschsee with you.