February 13 2018
Colleen Kelly Alexander discusses the accident that changed her life and how she has rebounded in spite of the trauma to her mind and body.
One morning, a few weeks ago, I texted my mentor the following:
“What if we didn’t care if we went running in the morning? I wonder what that feels like.”
And maybe I was kind of joking, but I really wanted to just sleep past 5:30 a.m. that Saturday and feel absolutely no different about pushing off my long run to the next day, or never. It was starting to get to me that so many of my friends could just go out on a Friday night and give no qualms about when they went to bed or how they felt in the morning. If—and if is the keyword here—I make it out on a Friday or Saturday night, I am anxiously checking my watch to ensure I am home by the curfew I have decided for myself. At 24, the idea of giving up my social life and being perceived as “boring” wears on me quite a bit, and this morning I was reaching a tipping point. That’s when she responded with:
“But honey, those people never know how good it feels.”
There have been mornings—okay many mornings—where I wake up and really just don’t want to go for a run. But, the knowledge that I have never, and probably will never, regret a run haunts me. Just the other day, I had an incredibly frustrating day at work. Right after I sent my last email, I put on a pair of sneakers and headed out the door, barreling down the street. By the middle of the second mile I felt ultimate relief flood over me. Through all the stress I was feeling, I kept my breathing evenly spaced out and quiet. It is an incredibly powerful feeling to be in control when so much of life is out of our control.
In moments like those, everything that is bothering me, seems to disappear and the first honest smile I’ve had all day creeps onto my face. To quote Paria Hassouri, “Before I started running, I was drowning. Now that I am running, I can breathe.” When people ask me why I run, which seems to happen every day, I am very comfortable lying and smiling and deflecting. I’m really, really good at it actually. Let’s be honest, that is like me asking someone, “So, why do you go to church?”
When I run, I see things clearer. I feel things a little deeper. I figure out and flesh out all of the issues I have dealt with that week. Instead of complaining, or throwing in the towel, I let myself truly feel things so that, ultimately, I can figure out what I need to do to make myself feel better and move forward.
Yes, sometimes it would be really nice to hit snooze, or skip a run to go socialize after work. And sometimes, I do. I’m human. But I care. I care quite a bit. And I don’t care how it feels to not want to go running every day. Wonder, sure. Not quite understand, definitely. But actually want to get up in the morning and not crave a run? Nah. I’ll take that tired, sluggish run over that any day. Because, my goodness does it feels good to just let go and feel so in control, all at the same time.