When Pushing Yourself Is Worth It

I just wasn’t feeling it. My legs were heavy as I trudged along the side of the road. Why had I chosen to sleep late, instead of getting up and out on my run early as I had planned? I had somewhere to be later. Now, I had to shorten the distance to get back in time. Filled with guilt for deliberately sabotaging my own plan, I contemplated turning around. I could just go home and run another day. That option sounded all too appealing but, I tried to convince myself to keep going.

As if in protest, my right knee began reminding me of its age and then my left calf chimed in with its own plea for mercy. Oh, my body is too old and tired to run. Taking cues from my legs, my mind engaged its own attack. Instantly, all I could focus on was the busy day ahead and how much more practical it would be to turn back. Even the world seemed set to test me that morning because suddenly I could hear the grinding noise of chainsaws. As I ran, the noise grew louder, and large construction vehicles came into view. Surely, I should turn around now. It’s probably not safe to pass anyway.

Completely torn about whether to continue or go back, I stopped running and started walking. The internal debate continued. My body ached, but, honestly, no more than usual. As I moved closer, I could see that the workers with the chainsaws were not actually on the road but off to the side, and that the road was not closed. If traffic was being allowed to pass, then there was no reason that I couldn’t run by unscathed. Plus, if I kept going, I could get to that spot that I like.

A few miles down the road is a lovely area where the trees are cleared. It provides an enchanting view of a local river before it leads out to the ocean. Getting to that spot is my reward for going the distance. Sometimes, I am even blessed with the presence of wildlife when I get there. Surely, I could pass the construction and keep going to get to my happy place. I just needed to push myself.

Changing my podcast to upbeat music and thinking about the river, I crossed to the other side of the road, settled into a comfortable running pace, and passed the workers. When I reached the river, I took in a large breath of salty air and let it out slowly as I gazed at the sunlight dancing on the ripples of the water. Although there was no wildlife to greet me this time, I was completely content with the view and lingered there for several minutes.

Feeling invigorated from the sight, I decided to run a bit farther. As I went, I began to hear music coming from outside of my headphones. I turned off my music to listen. I couldn’t quite make out the style or where it was coming from, but it grew louder as I ran down the road. Then, I found it. The source of the music seemed to emanate from a flower-filled patio across from the river and the lyrics were sung in a language that I didn’t recognize.

At once, I was transported to another place. I imagined myself running down the streets of another country on a summer holiday. The warm air and the magical music intensified the daydream. Oddly, no one was around. It was just me, meandering in an alternate reality. I crossed the road and stared out at the river, choosing to stay in my imaginary vacation for a little while. The music and the view were intoxicating. I could have stayed there for hours.

I’m not sure how long I stood there, but when I was thoroughly soaked with the experience, I turned back down the road. I felt completely relaxed as I ran. To my surprise, when I reached my favorite spot, I was treated with the site of a large bird, possibly a Great Blue Heron, standing on a large rock. Taking in another full breath of salty air, I walked slowly and watched the majestic bird as I went. Once it was out of my sight, I began running again.

On my way home, I couldn’t help but contemplate my experience during the run that morning. It had turned out to be a great run! What if I had given up and turned back when I had wanted to? I would have completely missed my mini vacation. I would have missed the river and the bird. I would have missed the fabulous feeling that now filled me with delight.

There are times when your body tells you to stop running, like when you’re injured, and by all means you should obey. However, there are also times when your mind and body seem to conspire against you in a way that is not truthful. I wanted to stop running because my heart wasn’t in it that morning. I wasn’t committed. Thankfully, I chose to push myself to keep running and received a wonderful reward for making that choice. The next time that I’m just not feeling it, hopefully, I will remember this lovely run and keep going.