Sunday, June 5, 2011

Run, Forest, Run!

A huge deciding factor in me quitting my job and working for myself was outdoor activities. I wanted to be able to take my dogs hiking or jump on my bike whenever I wanted. I hated wasting beautiful sunny days in a cubicle. I am that girl you pass on the yellow loop at Island Lake Rec Area with a goofy smile on her face while struggling to pedal up a "mountain." I know of a secret section no one else seems to where my dogs can run free while I run up and down huge sand dunes. This is what makes me happy. Feeling. Free. Fresh air. Sun. Dogs. Sweat. Play. Bike. Wind. Me. This is my church on a Sunday morning.

A few weeks ago, I saw an online posting for a Triathlon at the end of June. It was a beginner's one - just a 2 mile run, 9 mile bike, and 300 meter swim. I have never ran more than a few blocks, and haven't swam since high school gym class. But I signed up, thinking it would give me more of an excuse to "get into" running. 

For years and years all of my runner friends have told me how much I would love running once I got into it. They told me how amazing it is, how freeing. So I have tried. I have jogged here and there and hated it. I kept telling myself if I just push through I will love it. Too many people have promised me I would if I just kept it up. They couldn't all be wrong...right? 

For the past few weeks I have been trying. I can't do it with my dogs (they pull me off balance) so right there I felt myself getting negative and wishing I could be doing something to get them fresh air as well. But I pushed past it to keep trying. As I "run" (quoted since I actually run slower than my normal fast walk - lol) I just keep feeling the jarring sensation in my joints. The impact on my knees. My feet slapping against the ground. My lungs burning for more oxygen than my inhales can provide. It has been torture. I have not found one ounce of enjoyment out of it. Yet everyone says how wonderful it is, so I must just be a freak of nature. 

Then last weekend, I tried to put two of the activities together. First, I biked 9 miles. The trail was paved with lots of gradual hills, so I tried to push myself. I set a timer on my phone and began. Right off the bat, I found myself obsessed with the timer. I pushed myself and pushed myself. Instead of smelling the blooming lilacs, listening to the birds, seeing the bright green contrasting with the blue sky, I pedaled hard. Everything I loved about biking was gone. Instead of that satisfied, peaceful feeling I usually have when I end, I just had breathlessness and disappointment when I looked at my time. I loaded my bike into my car and started back down the trail at a jog. Within a few steps, I was heaving for air. I slowed to a walk and caught my breath. I started again, this time with my legs feelings like jelly. Walk, run, walk, run, walk, walk, walk. I did the 2 miles but it was hell (and majority walking).

Sitting in the car, I was struck with an overwhelming feeling of WTF. Here I was wasting a beautiful morning doing something I hated with every fiber of my being. Instead of feeling rejuvenated and de-stressed after an early morning at the park, I felt negative and disappointed and that I was a lesser person since I didn't thrive on this feeling of competition like most do. 

I get that things like this need to be worked up to. But I am beginning to question why I am even trying. I have so much in my life that brings me joy, why do I feel that I should be a good runner as well? Why do I want to complete a triathlon when I have always detested competitions? I like to grow, but I am not a huge believer in "no pain, no gain." Yoga, hiking, biking, kayaking, horse back riding, etc - these are all things I have enjoyed right from the start. My love of the activity is what has pushed me to grow and learn more. Not some competition. And certainly not anyone's opinion that I should enjoy it. 

There's a good chance I won't be doing the triathlon. But it has taught me how much I have in my life already. That in my busy life where I don't get much free time, it is silly to choose an activity I dislike over one I thoroughly enjoy. Stop choosing a path that makes you unhappy. Life's too short. 


  1. As I sit here in my cubicle, your last two sentences are playing over and over in my mind. Definitely time for a change - and soon! Thanks for this post! :)

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