***DISCLAIMER - the post you are about to read was fueled by a toxic combination of personal issues and post-workout endorphins... just so you're warned...
As I lay in my bed typing this and nursing my tender quads and hammies and glutes I can't help but think how feeling this kind of satisfying pain time and time again has made me feel not uncomfortable, but at peace - because I know that as crappy as my legs feel now, the disappointment and pain from everything else hurts a little bit less, (as my mom says, you can only feel so many things at once) and because I know that while I may not be getting anywhere in any other aspect of my life, at least I'm getting a little bit stronger in some respect.
Not everything we do gives us this kind of satisfaction. In what other endeavor can we be so sure that we're improving? What other activities offer such concrete evidence of progress? With learning; with relationships; with recovering from bad habits, it's not so tangible.
Running is simple.
Push too hard or dive in too fast, forget to be smart about it, and end up on your face. Take it easy and slow, take the time to build up consistently, make changes where necessary, take days off when needed and take some chances when there's more to gain than lose, and it will reward you like nothing else.
Running gives back what you put in.
Running has never failed to bring me consistently more joy than pain, though I would probably not admit to this during the last few minutes of a tough tempo run.
Running lets me think about everything, or about nothing at all.
I can let my mind wander to figure things out, fix things, or try to make things better. Or I can let go, and let the sound of my feet on the pavement be the only thing to fill my head.
Running is there for me.
It was there for me when middle school drama made we want to roll my eyes and just get away. It was there for me in high school when a bunch of family members went and kicked the can all around the same time. It was there for me when I wasn't able to spend time with one of my first loves, lacrosse. It was there for me for every up and down during my first year away from home, and during my second too. And now, it's there for me even as I'm losing something else.
Woah, woah, back it up, so how did I get from DOMS to running as a replacement for therapy? Well I think my questionably-delusional thought process went something along the lines of, the pain in my muscles won't get better by lying in bed, it'll get better by staying active and keeping everything moving and not getting stiff. Translate into a life lesson: when we're hurt, we don't get better by wallowing in self pity. We get better by figuring out ways to cope, either fixing things or learning to accept them, and moving on.
Regardless. What better outlet is there than running for anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, anxiety, guilt, jealousy, or just plain feeling like crap? Until there is something really spectacular out there to help me make it through everything life throws at me, whether it's achy legs or an achy.... heart (ok there I said it, now I feel super sappy but I can't go back now).... I'm going to keep running.
Because whoever said nothing is better than a good cry obviously never went on a good run.