Last week I went for a run. I’ve moved into a new house and since first learning that running outside isn’t just for insanely fit women in shorts and crop tops, I’ve liked exploring new places by running. It helps me get my bearings and work out how far I am from things, what fun places are nearby, and feel comfortable in my surroundings.
The problem is that anxiety makes new things scarier than they should be. It’s just a run, and GPS exists on my phone, and it was still sunny when I was getting ready to go, but man… I didn’t want to go. There was a knot in my stomach and I tried to shake it but couldn’t. In the end, I got changed and put shoes on before that knot realised what I was doing. I left the house and headed down the road in the vague direction of a body of water.
What followed, was 7km of bliss. The feeling of feet pounding against pavement, a heart racing with adrenaline, and the race against the sunset to get to the water’s edge was enough to get me going, but as I collapsed on a swing somewhere between home and the city, I couldn’t help but laugh. I used to run to punish myself, or to beat myself, but those 7km weren’t about that – they were about exploring, breathing, and denying anxiety the power is had over me.
On the way home, I sprinted for 200m, which isn’t really much at all, but my lungs were screaming for breath and my heart felt like it could jump out of my chest and an elderly man probably saw more of me than I wanted when my tights fell down a bit (sorry, dude), but those 200m weren’t about performing well, they were about the rush of movement and the sheer joy you feel as your feet wind down from the effort. I laughed as I stopped, grinning like a kid on Christmas morning.
It was dark by the time I got home, and I knew that I wouldn’t get another run in for a week or so. Wisdom teeth removal and vigorous exercise aren’t really good friends, so until next week, I’m on a strict relaxation schedule, but I remembered on that run that there’s joy in running, and that’s why I do it. It’s why I do it. It’s why I signed up for Spartan Race, because I wanted to chase joy like never before. It’s why I’m so thankful for my church, because they show me more and more what it’s like to have joy in God.
I went for a run last week. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pretty, but I wont apologise for it, and I wont feel bad about it, because it wasn’t about performance, it was about joy. And man, I felt that joy.